Here is our response to the most recent Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network (ACLDN) “Attorney Question of the Month.”
We’re starting to hear questions from Network members who are planning cross country summer vacations. Naturally, they’re particularly concerned about the potential for violating weapon restrictions and self defense laws once they leave home where they familiar with the law. Their concern extends beyond guns and includes worry about restrictions on pepper spray, Tasers, knives and other non-gun self-defense tools, too.
In hopes of aiding these intrepid travelers, we’d like to focus our next Attorney Question of the Month column on warnings our Affiliated Attorneys might offer fellow armed citizens traveling through their state, so I will greatly appreciate your comments on the following:
When armed citizens vacation in your state, what weapon and self defense laws are they most likely to be unaware of and may inadvertently violate?
If a Network member is planning to vacation in your state, what advice would you offer about their self defense weapons and provisions?
In our experience, there are several areas that many individuals are unaware of regarding places that are “off-limits” despite having a license to carry a handgun. These places are certainly of interest for travelers or anyone pursuing recreational activity in Indiana. Keep in mind, Indiana is generally a very gun-friendly state, and Indiana recognizes handgun license permits from all states. Currently, Indiana is not a “Constitutional Carry” state, and a license to carry or other recognized permit is generally required in Indiana to carry a handgun.
Indiana has the “usual” locations where carry is generally prohibited, to include but not limited to, schools, childcare facilities, airports, and any place where a firearm is prohibited by federal law – just to name a few. However, when considering recreation, most people do not realize that a firearm cannot be carried at the Indiana State Fairgrounds with the exception of law enforcement and authorized security personnel. Indiana administrative code requires a person properly licensed to lock a personal firearm in their vehicle and not visible while on the fairground property.
Additionally, another specific area where one is prohibited from possessing a firearm despite having a license or permit includes riverboat casinos. The casino is supposed to provide a secure place for patrons and off-duty law enforcement to store firearms. A couple of other places that are off-limits are horse racetracks and the Indiana Government Center Campus where the state capitol is located. Lastly, a person may generally possess a firearm on Department of Natural Resource property other than a reservoir owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Falls of the Ohio State Park. The larger lakes in Indiana are owned and run by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and it is illegal to carry on Corps property unless written approval is obtained from the appropriate authority at the Army Corps.
This response should not be considered comprehensive regarding where you can carry with a valid license. These are just a few examples of gun-free zones people often find surprising. In order to be more prepared for travel in Indiana, we would refer you to sources such as the Indiana State Police website and www.handgunlaw.us to learn more. Although these sources of infomation do not serve as legal authority, we find them generally reliable and a place to start further research.
We understand some individuals are concerned about knife laws as well. We are only aware of a few prohibitions with respect to knives in Indiana. For instance, we believe that if you have a knife that would be considered a throwing star of some sort or a knife that has a detachable blade that can be ejected from the knife handle as a projectile, you should not bring that sort of knife to Indiana. Additionally, knives are generally prohibited on school property. In a nutshell, it is our understanding that Indiana has very few restrictions, but you should begin your own due diligence process and review educational information from organizations such as kniferights.org – or your own attorney. Also, keep in mind, unlike in the firearms area, there is no preemption statute in Indiana with respect to knives, and it is possible that some localities may have local laws regulating knives. Although unconfirmed, we understand there are local ordinances in Merrillville, South Bend, and Westfield that address restrictions on blade length and/or and possession in parks.
In terms of tips for travelers, we would suggest that you have a high-quality, locking automobile safe to securely store your firearm when not on your person. We are also advocates that individuals seriously consider less-lethal forms of self-defense in addition to being a responsible armed citizen. One that we favor is quality pepper spray. Fortunately, there are no statutes in Indiana that directly prohibit the use of pepper spray. However, as with any use of force, the use of pepper spray must be “reasonable” under the applicable circumstances.