News & Insights

Indiana’s Troubling Firearm Laws as They Relate to Public Schools
March 11, 2014
by Jeffery Johnson

 

South Bend / Mishawaka, IN – The current state of the law in Indiana with regard to possession of firearms in relation to our public schools would surprise many citizens and it is about to get even more troubling.

Understandably and sensibly, currently, under Indiana law it is a Class D felony to possess a firearm in or on school property (I.C. 35-47-9-2). There are certain obvious exceptions to the firearm prohibition such as law enforcement officers.  But one exception that would surprise many Indiana residents if they knew is that it is not unlawful for an individual to have a firearm in their car while on school property if that person possesses the proper permit to carry the firearm and the purpose of the person possessing the firearm is to transport another person to or from school or a school function (I.C. 35-47-9-1).

And right now, as this article is being written, the Indiana legislature is in the process of expanding the exception set forth in I.C. 35-47-9-1 to allow a person to keep a firearm in their vehicle locked in the trunk or glove box while they attend school functions.  What is the possible reasoning behind expanding the right of individuals to bring firearms on public school property?

Furthermore, even though, with certain exceptions as noted above it is a Class D felony to possess a firearm on public school property, it  is unlawful for a school corporation to have a policy prohibiting visitors from bringing firearms onto school property (I.C.35-47-11.1-2).

That means under current Indiana law it is unlawful for a school corporation to adopt a policy that would prohibit an individual from committing a Class D felony on school property.  Does that make sense to anyone?

And if a school corporation were to adopt a policy prohibiting a visitor from bringing a firearm on school property, any person affected may be entitled to bring a lawsuit for declarative and injunctive relief in addition to actual and consequential damages (I.C. 35-47-11.1-5).  Of course, a defense that would surely be adopted by a school corporation sued by someone alleging they were adversely affected by a policy prohibiting them from brining a firearm on to school property is that their action was a felony criminal offense.  But again, why shouldn’t a school corporation be able to adopt a policy regarding possession of firearms on school property that is consistent with Indiana criminal law?

One bright spot of Indiana law as it relates to firearms and school property is that a school corporation may adopt a policy that prohibits employees from possessing a firearm and/or ammunition on school property (I.C.34-28-7-2(b)(1).

So in conclusion, under current Indiana law a public school corporation cannot legally adopt a policy that prohibits the possession of a firearm on school property by a person that is not an employee.  And Indiana law is about to expand the exceptions to the criminal law prohibiting possession of  firearms on public school property to include allowing persons with valid firearm permits to keep a firearm in a locked trunk or glove box while they are on school property.

 

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