The meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is an often litigated topic with a reputation for provoking heated discussions. In a 2008 decision, the Supreme Court interpreted it as granting the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include self-defense. The parameters for legally obtaining those guns vary from state to state, with both Kentucky and Indiana laws being more lenient than those of many other states.
In fact, an examination by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence graded the gun laws of all 50 states based on 30 policies related to guns and ammunition, including procedures for lost or stolen firearms, background checks, and preventing dangerous people from buying weapons. Neither state fared well with Indiana receiving a D minus and Kentucky receiving an F.
At this time, anyone in either state who wants to purchase a firearm from a federal firearm license holder (such as a gun shop) has to fill out a Firearms Transaction Record commonly known as Form 4473. The form contains details about the gun, personal details about the buyer, and an affidavit stating that he or she is eligible to purchase firearms under federal law. Be warned that lying on Form 4473 is a felony.
A background check is then initiated with the FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to determine if the prospective purchaser’s details match those of a person who is not eligible to buy a firearm. Who is ineligible? Fugitives, felons, domestic abusers, and people who are dangerously mentally ill. Although the FBI has up to three days to do the check, most are completed within minutes, allowing the average eligible person to legally walk away with a gun in less than one hour. Neither state has universal background checks, which means that the above provisions do not apply to sales conducted with a private seller, at a gun show, or done online.
Another way that a firearm can change hands is through a gun trust. Originally intended to allow owners to legally share firearms with family members and to pass them down responsibly, such trusts are commonly used for certain heavily regulated weapons such as machine guns, grenades, silencers, and short-barreled shotguns. Until this summer, gun trusts (also known as NFA trusts, Title II trusts, ATF trusts, or Class 3 trusts) could be used to avoid some of the federal requirements for transferring restricted firearms. Final Rule 41-F, which became effective July 13, 2016, now makes it mandatory for all people responsible for a trust to comply with the same restrictions as individual owners – chief among them, being fingerprinted and undergoing a background check. In order to be valid, a gun trust must be drafted in accordance with state law provisions for revocable living trusts.
Currently, one of the largest firearm-related differences between Kentucky and Indiana has to do with the way people are allowed to carry their guns. In Kentucky, individuals who are old enough to possess the firearm are allowed to carry it in the open. Those who want to hide their gun on their person must have a special concealed carry permit, which the Kentucky State Police must issue or deny with 60 days if mailed in or within 15 days if submitted online. In Indiana, an individual needs a permit to carry openly or concealed, though there are exceptions for carrying a handgun unloaded, not readily accessible, and secured in a case in a vehicle, on your own property, from place of purchase, and to a firearm range for practice.
If you have been charged with violating firearm laws or have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the criminal defense attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY, Floyd County, IN, Clark County, IN, and Harrison County, Indiana. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or through our online form.