Indiana's Constitutional Carry law hasn't killed off concealed carry licenses

(AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

Even in states that don’t require a permit or a license in order for legal gun owners to lawfully carry a concealed firearm, there are going to be some folks who find the need to acquire a government permission slip. They might want to carry in other states that recognize their home state’s license, or (in some states) carry in places that are off-limits to those carrying under Constitutional Carry provisions but are open to those with an actual license.

That being said, I’ll confess to being surprised at just how many people have applied for a new license since Indiana’s permitless carry law took effect on July 1st. According to the Indiana State Police, while new permit applications are down, they’re still more common than you might expect.

One month later, Indiana State Police Captain Ron Galaviz said Hoosiers are still applying.

“We knew there would be a decline, but what this still tells us is there are people out there still trusting that process and going through it,” Galaviz said.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, Indiana State Police approved close to 35,000 firearm permit applications, Galaviz said.

That number averages out to about 5,800 permit applications per month. In July, however, that number dropped to 2,833 approved applications.

Galaviz said despite the drop in permit applications, the process to apply has not changed. Hoosiers can start the application process online for free.

The importance of practicing responsible gun ownership has also not changed, according to Galaviz.

“You are going out and buying a machine. Understand how it works, how to clean it, how to maintain it,” Galaviz said. “Do all those things, but most of all, make sure you properly and safely store it, so we are keeping it out of the hands of people that should not have them, especially children.”

I think the fact that Indiana doesn’t charge a fee for their concealed carry license has probably helped keep the number of applicants as high as it is. Applicants are still required to pay for fingerprints, but that’s the only real fee connected to the license since the state legislature approved legislation in 2021 removing the $125 licensing fee; a move that gun control groups decried even while proclaiming themselves fans of the Second Amendment.

“We are often seen as the enemy and we are not the enemy,” said Heather Hibert, Moms Demand Action volunteer. “We are pro-second amendment. We are a group that includes veterans and gun owners. We simply just want to make sure people are responsible with their firearms and that they don’t get into the hands of someone who shouldn’t have them.”

… Within the first week, Indiana State Police told WANE 15 that more than 25,000 people had signed up for the license. With the recent flood of Hoosiers applying for free five-year handgun licenses, Hibert says she is concerned.

“When the licensing takes too long it’s flooded the system, we run the risk of buying a firearm with someone else without carrying a license,” Hibert said. “When that happens we run into the risk of they are buying from a seller not doing a background check. We run the risk of them transferring ownership of a gun to someone who shouldn’t have it.”

As my colleague Tom Knighton pointed out at the time, Hibert’s fears were unfounded because the state doesn’t require a permit to purchase a firearm beforehand, and private person-to-person sales don’t require a background check under state or federal law.

Of course, her real issue had nothing to do with potential delays in background checks and everything to do with the surge in interest for concealed carry licenses after those governmental fees disappeared. Hibert has continued her general opposition to concealed carry in the months since, and was even handcuffed and briefly detained earlier this year after she and another activist were trying to protest after-hours outside of the governor’s office in the state capitol building.

While she’s complaining, more Hoosiers than ever before are exercising their right to bear arms in self-defense, with and without a government permission slip. We’ll see if the number of concealed carry applications declines further as more residents become aware of the permitless carry law, but even if that’s the case I expect the number of armed citizens to continue to grow… something that real pro-Second Amendment activists will be cheering on.