Buying a Handgun in Indiana: The Constitutional Right You Can Lose

July 01, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Buying a Handgun in Indiana: The Constitutional Right You Can Lose

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizens the right to bear arms. However, this right is not unlimited and can be lost in certain circumstances. Federal and state laws govern the right to buy a handgun in Indiana. Moreover, a violation of Indiana gun laws under Indiana Code article 35-47 or federal regulations can result in serious legal consequences, including prison time and significant fines. In other words, possessing or buying a handgun in Indiana means navigating a bevy of laws and regulations.

Should you have questions about buying a handgun or licensure or you’ve lost your right to own or possess a gun, an Indiana handgun lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help. With deep experience in protecting your Second Amendment rights and navigating federal and state gun laws, we use Indiana and federal law to defend your rights.

A Guide to Buying a Handgun in Indiana

Neither federal nor Indiana gun laws require a person buying a handgun in Indiana to have a license. However, federal law requires those who want to purchase a handgun to submit to a background check. Usually, a person may buy a handgun with no issues if the background check is clean.

Certain conditions can limit your right to buy a gun. Attempting to sidestep restrictions imposed by law, such as through straw purchases, can result in serious consequences. Alternatively, if you have a criminal record, your right to possess or buy a firearm in Indiana can be prohibited, but there may be ways to restore your handgun rights. Understanding all facets of gun rights comes through intense study of and practice in this area. An Indiana handgun lawyer at Keffer Hirschuaer LLP has the experienced to evaluate your case, advise you on the best path forward, and assist you through the process of restoring your Indiana gun rights.

Conditions that Limit Your Right to Buy a Gun

In Indiana, persons 18 years or older may purchase a handgun if they pass a federal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, an individual may lose the right to buy a handgun in Indiana for various reasons, including:

  • Having a domestic battery conviction, whether a felony or misdemeanor
  • Having a serious violent felony conviction
  • Being an illegal or unlawful alien in the United States
  • Being found by a court to be dangerous

Those who are not allowed to buy a handgun in Indiana due to a prior conviction may petition the court to restore their gun rights in Indiana. However, before the restoration of your gun rights, the purchase and possession of a handgun is illegal and may result in significant penalties.

Buying a Handgun in Indiana through Straw Purchases

When the law prohibits a person from buying and possessing a gun, it may be tempting to purchase one anyway with the help of another person whose gun rights are intact. This is known as a straw purchase. A straw purchase is the process of buying a gun for someone who cannot buy a gun under Indiana gun laws. These purchases include buying a handgun in Indiana with intent to take any of the following actions:

  • Resell or give the gun to a person who is ineligible by law to buy a gun
  • Resell the handgun to a person they know plans to use the gun in the commission of a crime
  • Transport the gun across state lines to sell or give the gun to a person ineligible to buy a gun or who plans to use it to commit a crime

Violation of this law is a Level 5 felony but can be a Level 3 felony if the person who receives the gun commits murder with the firearm. These crimes carry significant legal consequences, including jail time and heavy fines. If you face charges for a straw purchase under handgun purchase laws in Indiana, contact an experienced Indiana handgun lawyer immediately.

Penalties under Indiana Gun Laws

When the law prohibits you from buying a handgun in Indiana, you face significant penalties if caught in possession of a handgun. These penalties include jail time and fines. The following are violations of Indiana law by both purchasers and sellers of handguns:

  • Possession of a handgun by a serious felon may result in a penalty of two to 12 years in prison
  • Possession of a handgun by a person with a conviction of domestic battery may result in up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000
  • Illegal sale of a firearm may result in incarceration for one to six years and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Straw purchase of a handgun may result in incarceration for one to six years and a fine of up to $10,000

In addition to these penalties, you may lose your right to own and possess a gun even after completing your punishment. When facing charges like these, reach out to an Indiana handgun lawyer for strategic defense options and to explore whether you can restore your gun rights under Indiana gun laws.

Buying a Handgun in Indiana: How to Restore Your Rights

Indiana honors the Second Amendment and provides citizens the opportunity to purchase and own a handgun. Unfortunately, some people can lose this right to own a gun under Indiana and federal law. If you lose your right to possess a handgun, contact an Indiana handgun lawyer about ways to restore your right to buy a gun.

For most people with a criminal record, the best path toward restoring their gun rights is through expungement of the criminal record. However, for those with a domestic violence conviction, a separate Indiana law allows them to petition for restoration of their gun rights after five years.

Felony Convictions and Buying a Handgun In Indiana

If you have a felony or even just a misdemeanor, you can lose your gun ownership right. However, under Indiana’s expungement law, when a person successfully petitions the court to expunge or seal their convictions, they are viewed as a “proper person” under Indiana Code § 35-47-1-7 to own or possess a gun.

When a non-violent Level 6 felony conviction restricts your right to buy a gun in Indiana, a petition to reduce the felony to a Class A misdemeanor may be an option for restoring your gun rights. However, for more serious felony charges, your best option to restore your firearm rights is expungement.

Those with a Level 6 felony must wait eight years from the date of conviction before petitioning a court for an expungement. To expunge a Level 6 felony, you must establish the following:

  • All portions of your sentence are complete
  • No other convictions have accrued in the past eight years
  • No additional charges are pending against you

Those with more serious felonies must wait ten years from the date of their conviction or five years from completing their sentence to apply for expungement. In addition, in these cases, you must obtain the prosecuting attorney’s consent in writing for the expungement, which can be an intimidating endeavor. An experienced Indiana handgun lawyer can talk with the prosecuting attorney about your right to expungement and guide you through the rest of the expungement process.

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Convictions and Buying a Handgun in Indiana

Convictions for domestic violence result in a ban on buying a handgun under federal and Indiana law, and an expungement will not restore your right to own a handgun. However, an individual with a domestic violence conviction may petition the court to restore gun ownership rights.

To apply for restoration of your handgun rights, you must wait until five years have passed since your conviction. The court may use its discretion when deciding whether to restore your gun rights and will evaluate the following factors to reach its decision:

  • Whether you are subject to a restraining order, no-contact order, protective order, or any other court order prohibiting you from having a gun
  • Whether you still present a threat to the subject of a previous crime
  • Whether there is a reason you should not possess a firearm, including subsequent criminal offenses or convictions

Judges have broad discretion in granting or denying the restoration of gun rights to those with past domestic violence convictions. The court may set forth conditions that the defendant must satisfy to have their gun rights restored or ongoing conditions for such restoration. Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help with any questions regarding conditions on the restoration of your gun rights and how to ensure you meet these requirements.

The Expungement Process

Meeting the eligibility criteria to petition for an expungement is just the first step toward obtaining one. In addition to completing the petition and obtaining the necessary supporting documents, you must file the petition with the clerk’s office in the county where the judgment of conviction was entered and pay the filing fee or request a fee waiver.

Should you meet all eligibility requirements and the prosecutor does not object, a judge can grant an expungement without a hearing. However, it is within the judge’s discretion to request a hearing. Such a hearing required if the prosecutor objects to your petition.

Working with experienced Indiana handgun lawyers can enhance your chance of successfully obtaining an expungement with or without a hearing. Attorneys who work in the area of gun rights understand how to present your case favorably and are familiar with the proper court procedures, including properly filing all paperwork and communicating with the judge and prosecutor.

In the event the court denies your expungement petition, you must wait one year before filing a second request to restore your gun rights.

The Effect of An Expungement

An expungement of your criminal record can permanently seal your record from public view and restore certain rights. This can have a positive impact on your efforts to continue your education, find housing, receive loans, obtain employment, lawful possess a firearm, and more.

If your case is sealed, the only people who are able to access your court file after an expungement are law enforcement agencies for criminal investigations and legal proceedings. If you have questions surrounding the expungement of your criminal record, contact an Indiana criminal defense attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.

Why Do You Need an Indiana Handgun Lawyer?

Understanding your gun rights can be confusing and requires knowledge of applicable Indiana gun laws and federal regulations—including when those laws change. When you reach out to an experienced Indiana handgun lawyer, you have the benefit of knowledgeable guidance on whether you can buy a gun in Indiana or can get you on the path to restoring your gun rights. For help understanding the laws and retaining or restoring your rights related to buying a handgun in Indiana, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP for a free consultation by calling (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact form.

Categories: