Gun rights advocates celebrated the passage of House Bill 1284, which adds a protection for Hoosiers from legal action following a justified use of force.
The bill also addresses several other issues related to firearms.
The legislation signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb takes effect this month.
“The initial purpose of [HB 1284] was to protect Hoosiers’ rights to protect themselves and not be bankrupted after a justified use of force,” Rep. Jim Lucas said.
Lucas, a Republican from Seymour who introduced the bill, described an instance when a woman shot her firearm to protect a police officer, killing a man stopped by law enforcement. The deceased man’s family filed a wrongful death suit, and attorneys pressured the woman to settle in the case, according to Lucas.
“I drafted legislation to prevent this from happening to any other Hoosier in the future,” he said. “I want to stress the use of justified force. Some have said this allows for someone to shoot on sight ... nothing could be further from the truth.”
Lucas said that the bill would also allow Hoosiers to carry firearms in churches and religiously affiliated schools.
In next year’s General Assembly, as he has in past years, Lucas said, he will introduce a bill to allow teachers to arm themselves at school.
“It’s unconstitutional that we make people defenseless against people that aren’t prohibited by laws,” he explained. “We have, in this society, disarmed those in the best place to do anything during a school shooting.”
Lucas said such a law would require teachers to have the same level of training as police officers, 40 hours, with training focused on school-based active shooter situations. This action could save schools money for retaining resource officers, the state representative said.
During the process of drafting the bill, Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, requested increasing the state’s four-year handgun license to five years, Lucas said. The bill also allows for law enforcement agencies to serve as locations for voter registration.
Other public safety laws
Three other new laws fall under public safety for Hoosiers, including bills criminalizing “revenge porn,” allowing for protective orders from harassment and creating protections for children from sexual predators.
The sharing of an explicit photo without the permission of the subject will now be prohibited as a Class A misdemeanor under Senate Bill 243.
The law defines the distribution of “nonconsensual pornography” as sharing an intimate image without consent and includes sharing those photos on the Internet. For subsequent offenses, the penalty increases to a Level 6 felony.
Previously, Indiana law permitted protection orders only after a violent assault. Hoosiers can now seek court-ordered protection from harassers under HB 1607, and courts can specify terms and conditions for the offender.
Young Hoosiers will have new protections from child predators under SB 551. Parents may now file for protection on behalf of their children against someone engaging in sexual grooming activity. The law also stipulates that children under the age of 16 may have comfort items or comfort animals while testifying in any hearing in any criminal matter.
The law prohibits the Department of Child Services from disclosing records related to ongoing investigations or criminal prosecutions. It also expands the list of offenses that may be prosecuted before a victim turns 31, including child molesting, child solicitation, child seduction and incest.
Contact Whitney Downard at email@example.com or follow her @WhitneyDownard.