The U.S. Supreme Court took a step to limit states’ abilities to pass gun-control legislation Tuesday, a move which likely will not directly impact Indiana’s gun policies.
The decision struck down a century-old New York law requiring people to demonstrate a self-defense need when applying for a concealed-carry permit. Legal scholars say the decision will have ripple effects on gun-control policies nationwide.
Pierre Atlas, senior lecturer in the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI, said Hoosiers are unlikely to directly feel those effects.
“I would say, though, that the logic of the ruling, and what they say about the Second Amendment in general, could have an effect in Indiana in terms of any other current gun laws or any gun laws that might be put on the books in the future,” Atlas emphasized.
Atlas pointed out the court’s ruling essentially reinforces Indiana’s approach to gun permitting and gun control. Indiana’s current policies are known as “shall-issue” laws, where the burden of proof to deny a gun license is on the state. New York’s now-defunct law was a “may-issue” policy, which shifts the burden onto the citizen to prove they need the firearm.
For as many gun-control doors as it closes, Atlas argued the court’s majority decision also opens a few paths. Penned by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, the decision noted there were laws in the mid-19th century dictating “individuals could not carry deadly weapons in a manner likely to terrorize others.”
“Imagine today maybe somebody coming up with a law saying you’re not allowed to carry a firearm openly in a way that terrorizes others,” Atlas posed. “That might be used perhaps to reduce open-carry of AR-15s, which you could say could be used to terrorize others.”
Indiana is poised to enact a new law Friday to eliminate the need for a handgun permit, which Atlas observed will trade out the state’s current “shall-issue” approach to handguns for an even looser gun control policy.
The law has been criticized by law enforcement and gun-safety groups, who contended it removes an important safety barrier to keep firearms away from people who shouldn’t have them.