The legislature passed a bill Thursday that would make it legal to leave firearms locked and concealed in vehicles on school property.
Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, said the bill makes changes that are “common sense” and it is meant to keep “law abiding citizens” from being charged with felonies.
Current law states that if a person brings or leaves a firearm in a vehicle on school property he or she could be charged with a felony.
But under the bill passed Thursday, people could only be charged with a misdemeanor – and only if they leave a firearm out in the open in an unlocked vehicle.
The controversial bill had drawn a number of opponents, including gun control groups and educators.
“We remain strongly opposed to legislation that would jeopardize the safety of our children by allowing guns in and around schools and school activities,” said Nicki McNally, leader of the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action. “It’s clear that the committee is in lock step with the Washington gun lobby, whose primary goal is to push legislation that allows more guns in more places even at the expense of our children’s safety.”
But one of the bill’s key supporters, Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said focus is to protect parents from being charged with a felony for simply leaving a firearm in their vehicle on school property when doing something as simple as taking a student lunch.
“The bill now goes way beyond that. It prohibits a school district from controlling the premise of the parking lot,” said Sen. Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.
The National Rifle Association supports the bill, while it is opposed by the Indiana State Teachers Association, the Indiana Association of School Principals, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Indiana School Boards Association, Indiana Urban School Association, and the Children’s Coalition of Indiana.
SB 229 also restricts law enforcement from using state funds to operate buyback programs.
It allows for law enforcement agencies to conduct buy-back programs and says a firearm can be destroyed for scrap metal, parts, recycling or for resale as parts for other firearms or sold to a salvage company.
The bill now moves to Gov. Mike Pence to be signed or vetoed.
Erika Brock is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by the Franklin College journalism students.