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Indiana gun laws reexamined

Posted on 02.06.2013

Indiana and the University of Indianapolis have similar policies regulating guns on campus. With the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, debate has been renewed on gun control both at the state and national levels.

Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Maryam Stevenson explained that the Constitution of the United States is not very restrictive so that future national leaders could change the document to reflect the changing times.

“The Founding Fathers, when they wrote the Second Amendment, wrote the amendment to allow leeway. There is nothing in the federal Constitution regarding sale or acquisition of guns, or any specific requirements for ownership,” Stevenson said. “This law is vague, and there is an open door for Congress to reinterpret the amendment and pass laws that could affect an individual’s ability to buy firearms.”

The vagueness of the Second Amendment and the provision of the Tenth Amendment—which leaves anything not in the power of the federal government up to the states to decide—permits Indiana to implement its own laws and decide how restrictive to be about gun control.

Indiana’s relaxed gun laws can have effects on surrounding areas. A recent story on The Chicago Tribune website reported that the increase in illegal gun sales is partially because guns are often bought in Indiana at gun shows and shipped to Chicago.

The Indiana General Assembly’s website states that to purchase handguns, a buyer must apply to the local sheriff’s office and pass a background check, which determines whether he or she can own a handgun, depending on criminal history. If an individual is of a “good character and proper person to do so,” he or she will be approved to buy a handgun.  Indiana does forbid ownership of several weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, Chinese throwing stars, weapons of mass destruction and armor piecing bullets.

Despite forbidding several types of weapons, Indiana has a reputation for having easy access to weapons. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ranks Indiana 39th, tying with ten other states, for gun violence prevention through gun laws. (

Though state law allows guns to be purchased easily, carrying concealed weapons in places such as universities and state buildings is illegal. Indiana law states that having a gun at any type of school or school function is a felony.

According to the University of Indianapolis Student Handbook, guns and anything else that can be defined as a weapon are banned. Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli said that in spite of the recent shootings and the national concern for campus safety, UIndy is safe.

“We did, back in 2011, have an alleged gunman, although the report from the victims was that he said he had a gun but they [the victims] never saw it,” Vitangeli said. “There was also an incident with two UIndy students … but the shooting took place off campus. Fortunately, we’ve had no incidents on campus.”

New UIndy Chief of Police David Selby said that the campus is safe, in part, because of tragedies like Sandy Hook and the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.

“Because of the media attention and the locations of the recent shootings, colleges do have to take extra measures to be safe … ,” Selby said. “Campuses sometimes will attract people you don’t necessarily want hanging around because it is a public place, but overall campuses are safer than what you would think.”


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