Restoring Firearm Rights And Your Ability To Own A Gun In Indiana

January 09, 2021

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  • Federal Firearm Rights vs. Indiana Firearm Rights

    It is important to understand that restoring your firearm rights and ability to purchase and own a gun are governed by both Indiana law and federal law. Therefore, your ability to restore your firearm rights depends on both Indiana law and federal law, and what type of criminal offense caused you to lose your right to purchase and own a gun. Federal law bans possession of firearms for individuals convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving domestic violence. Meaning, even if your firearm rights have been restored under Indiana law, federal law may still prohibit your right to purchase or own a gun.

    Restoring Firearm Rights under Indiana Law

    Restoring firearm rights under Indiana law depends on several factors, including whether your firearm rights were taken away based on a Class A, B, C, D felony, or because of a domestic violence conviction. In addition, Indiana law only specifically bars possession of handguns, and is therefore less restrictive than federal law. For example, if you have lost your firearm rights due to a felony conviction, your firearm rights are only restricted for handguns at the state level, but you are prohibited from possession of any type of firearm under federal law.

    Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Convictions in Indiana and Firearm Rights

    Both federal law and Indiana law specifically bar those convicted of domestic battery from possessing a firearm (18 U.S.C. § 922; I.C. 35-47-2-1). An expungement in Indiana for a domestic battery conviction (conviction of I.C. 35-42-2-1.3) will not restore your right to carry a handgun (I.C. 35-38-9-6(f)). However, an individual who has lost their gun rights due to a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction in Indiana may petition the court to restore their rights (I.C. 35-47-4-7). Under Indiana law, a petition to restore your firearm rights may be filed no sooner than five (5) years after the date of conviction, and the court will use its discretion in restoring your firearm rights based upon the following factors:

    • Whether the person has ever been subject any court order that prohibits the person from possessing a firearm, such as a protective order, no contact order, or restraining order;
    • Whether the person still presents a threat to the victim of the crime;
    • Whether the person has successfully completed a substance abuse program (if applicable);
    • Whether the person has successfully completed a parenting class (if applicable); and
    • Whether there is any other reason why the person should not possess a firearm, such as committing a subsequent offense or failing to fulfill a condition that the court specifically set as a requirement for granting relief.

    If the courts grant your petition to restore your firearm rights based upon the above factors, your firearm rights under both Indiana law and federal law will be restored. As a result, you will be able to possess, purchase, and transport firearms throughout Indiana. However, not all states agree on this issue, and they are not required to follow the ruling of an Indiana court on these matters—therefore, you should consult with an attorney or perform the necessary research before possessing or transporting a firearm in another state following restoration of your Indiana firearm rights.

    Felony Convictions in Indiana and Firearm Rights

    In contrast, federal law can make it quite difficult to completely restore your firearm rights following a felony conviction in Indiana, depending upon the type of felony conviction. If your firearm rights were restricted because of a non-violent Class D felony conviction, both your Indiana and federal rights can be restored following a successful petition to reduce the Class D felony to a Class A misdemeanor. However, if your firearm rights were taken away due to a violent or more serious felony charge, your options to restore your ability to purchase and own a firearm are more limited.

    In 2012, Indiana passed the “Second Chance Law”, which has expanded expungement laws, permitting many offenses to be expunged that were previously ineligible. Indiana expungement law now provides for expungements which seal records relating to both arrests and convictions, and also restore certain civil rights such as firearm rights. There has been much contention related to Indiana expungements and firearm restoration. The Indiana statute related to criminal record expungements has been amended each year since its inception. While previous iterations of the statute did not provide for restoration of firearm rights, the most recent version of the statute related to restoration of rights DOES allow for firearm restoration. The current version of the statute specifically provides that expungement restores the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public, and to be a proper person for handgun licensure (I.C. 35-47-1-7(2)). Under Indiana law, any person convicted of a felony is not eligible for a hand gun license. After many versions of the statute, the legislature decided to put an end to the firearm questions and issues by specifically stating in the statue that expungement restores the ability to obtain a handgun license. The language of the Indiana statute is effective for restoration of firearm rights at the federal level. Once you have obtained an Indiana expungement, your firearm rights are restored under Indiana law and federally, unless of course your firearm rights remain restricted for some other reason (i.e. involuntary commitment, etc.).

    Obtaining a Pardon from the Governor

    Applying for a full pardon to the Indiana Parole Board is another route you can take to restore your second amendment rights if expunging or reducing your conviction isn’t an option. Should the Parole Board recommend your pardon AND the Governor grants your pardon, your gun rights will be restored if it has been at least 15 years since your conviction. While this may be an option, you should know that these pardons are very rarely granted.

    You can check your eligibility on restoring your Indiana firearm rights using our free and confidential expungement eligibility test.

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