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Legal Information: Indiana

Indiana State Gun Laws

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State Gun Laws

This section addresses general Indiana state gun laws and the firearms seizure and retention law, which allows law enforcement to take away weapons from a “dangerous individual.” In addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help in your area, please go to the Indiana Places that Help page.

Basic Info and Definitions

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws? Why do I need to understand both?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both “federal gun laws” and “state gun laws.” The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

What is the definition of a felony?

A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor. Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a “serious violent felony” to have a gun.

Under Indiana law, a serious violent felony means:

(1) murder ( IC 35-42-1-1 );
(2) voluntary manslaughter ( IC 35-42-1-3 );
(3) reckless homicide not committed by means of a vehicle ( IC 35-42-1-5 );
(4) battery ( IC 35-42-2-1 ) as a:
(A) Class A felony, Class B felony, or Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014;  or
(B) Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, Level 4 felony, or Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(5) domestic battery ( IC 35-42-2-1.3 ) as a Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, Level 4 felony, or Level 5 felony;
(6) aggravated battery ( IC 35-42-2-1.5 );
(7) kidnapping ( IC 35-42-3-2 );
(8) criminal confinement ( IC 35-42-3-3 );
(9) rape ( IC 35-42-4-1 );
(10) criminal deviate conduct ( IC 35-42-4-2 );
(11) child molesting ( IC 35-42-4-3 );
(12) sexual battery ( IC 35-42-4-8 ) as a:
(A) Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014;  or
(B) Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(13) robbery ( IC 35-42-5-1 );
(14) carjacking (IC 5-42-5-2);
(15) arson ( IC 35-43-1-1(a) ) as a:
(A) Class A felony or Class B felony if committed before July 1, 2014;  or
(B) Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, or Level 4 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(16) burglary ( IC 35-43-2-1 ) as a:
(A) Class A felony or Class B felony if committed before July 1, 2014;  or
(B) Level 1 felony, Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, or Level 4 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(17) assisting a criminal ( IC 35-44.1-2-5 ) as a:
(A) Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014; or
(B) Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(18) resisting law enforcement ( IC 35-44.1-3-1 ) as a:
(A) Class B felony or Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014; or
(B) Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, or Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(19) escape ( IC 35-44.1-3-4 ) as a:
(A) Class B felony or Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014;  or
(B) Level 4 felony or Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(20) trafficking with an inmate ( IC 35-44.1-3-5 ) as a:
(A) Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014; or
(B) Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(21) criminal organization intimidation ( IC 35-45-9-4 );
(22) stalking ( IC 35-45-10-5 ) as a:
(A) Class B felony or Class C felony if committed before July 1, 2014; or
(B) Level 4 felony or Level 5 felony if committed after June 30, 2014;
(23) incest ( IC 35-46-1-3 );
(24) dealing in or manufacturing cocaine or a narcotic drug ( IC 35-48-4-1 );
(25) dealing in methamphetamine ( IC 35-48-4-1.1 ) or manufacturing methamphetamine ( IC 35-48-4-1.2 );
(26) dealing in a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance ( IC 35-48-4-2 );
(27) dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance ( IC 35-48-4-3 ); or
(28) dealing in a schedule V controlled substance ( IC 35-48-4-4 ).1

If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a serious violent felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the courthouse and search the conviction records.

1 IC § 35-47-4-5(b)

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

Indiana state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he:

  1. has been convicted of a “serious violent felony;”1
  2. was adjudicated delinquent for a crime that would have been a “serious violent felony” if committed by an adult, and is currently under age 26 or 28 depending on the severity of the crime;2
  3. is subject to an order for protection where the judge has specifically ordered that the respondent cannot have a firearm;3
  4. has been found by a judge to be “dangerous” during a hearing for the seizure and retention of firearms by law enforcement;4
  5. is unlawfully present in the United States;5 or
  6. has been convicted of the crime of domestic battery.6

However, a person who was convicted of domestic battery five or more years ago can petition to have his/her right to possess a firearm restored.7

If any of these situations apply to the abuser, it may be illegal for him/her to have a gun. Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 IC § 35-47-4-5(c)
2 IC § 35-47-4-9(b)
3 IC § 34-26-5-9(d)(4)
4 IC § 35-47-4-6.5
5 IC § 35-47-4-8(b)
6 IC § 35-47-4-6(a)
7 IC § 35-47-4-7(b)

Guns and Orders for Protection

I have a temporary order for protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

As part of an order for protection case, a judge can order anything else that is necessary to keep you and any family or household member in the order safe.1 It is possible that a judge could include gun restrictions based on this language. So, if this is ordered in your temporary protection order, the abuser cannot legally have a gun.1

However, if there is no specific mention of a firearm restriction in the temporary protection order, then it may still be legal for the abuser to have a gun under Indiana state law.

1 IC § 34-26-5-9(c)

I have an order for protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away?

Under Indiana law, a judge can include in a final order for protection that the abuser cannot use or have a firearm or ammunition. The order can also require that the abuser surrender to law enforcement any firearms or ammunition that s/he has while the order is in effect.1

Usually your order for protection will only be valid for two years, unless ordered otherwise by the court.2 You should be aware of the order’s expiration date so that you can extend the order before it ends if you need to. See How do I change or extend an order for protection? for more information. Usually you will need to show evidence that you still need the order for protection.

Federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun if you have a final protection order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that s/he cannot have a gun. Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.

1 IC § 34-26-5-9(d)(4)
2 IC § 34-26-5-9(f)

Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get an order for protection?

Indiana state law does not specifically say that anyone who has an order for protection against him/her cannot own or buy a gun but the judge can specifically order this as part of your order for protection. In addition, the order for protection form should automatically say that the abuser cannot have or buy a gun due to federal law.1

To try to make it clear that the abuser cannot have a gun, here are a couple things you may want to ask for in court:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s).
  • Ask the judge to write in the county sheriff’s office where the abuser has to surrender his/her guns. Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that this is included on your order for protection.

It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser’s guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. Therefore, you may also want to ask the judge:

  • if it can be written in the order that the police to go to the abuser’s house and get the guns;
  • to make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
  • to order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.

1 IC § 34-26-5-3(c)

Guns and Criminal Convictions

If the abuser has been convicted of crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Indiana state law says that a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he:

  1. has been convicted of a “serious violent felony;”1
  2. was adjudicated delinquent for a crime that would have been a “serious violent felony” if committed by an adult, and is currently under age 26 or 28 depending on the severity of the crime;2 or
  3. has been convicted of the crime of domestic battery.3

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

1 IC § 35-47-4-5(c)
2 IC § 35-47-4-9(b)
3 IC § 35-47-4-6(a)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Criminal records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Criminal records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

The Abuser Isn't Supposed to Have a Gun...Now what?

If the abuser's gun(s) is taken away, what will happen to it?

A police officer responding to the scene of a crime where domestic violence is claimed to have happened can take the abuser’s gun if all of the following are true:

  1. the officer believes a crime involving domestic violence has happened;
  2. the firearm puts the victim in immediate risk of serious bodily injury;
  3. the firearm was used in the crime; and
  4. the officer saw the firearm at the scene.1

If the officer takes the gun, s/he will store it until any legal proceedings related to the incident have been completed.2

A police officer might also take a firearm away from someone who has been found to be a “dangerous individual.” If the abuser’s firearm was taken away due to a judge finding that the abuser is a “dangerous individual,” the abuser can file a petition after 180 days to get the firearm back. It is up to the judge whether to return the firearm or not based on whether the person is still considered “dangerous.”3 You can learn more about these types of firearm seizures in the Firearm Seizures and Retention section.

1 IC § 35-33-1-1.5(b)
2 IC § 35-33-1-1.5(c)
3 IC § 35-47-14-8(a)-(f)

Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police. If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our Indiana Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Indiana on the ATF website. For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867). Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff that are called “victim/witness coordinators.” You may be able to ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with and ATF officer, or receiving a call back.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our Indiana Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law. If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.1

1United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

What is the penalty for violating firearm laws?

Under Indiana state law, anyone who has or buys a gun after being convicted of domestic battery is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, or a Level 5 felony if certain conditions are met, and can be punished by jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.1 Also, anyone who has a handgun after being convicted of a serious violent felony is guilty of a Level 4 felony, which can be punished by incarceration of between two and twelve years, with the advisory sentence being six years. In addition, the person may be fined up to $10,000.2

1 IC §§ 35-47-2-1(c), (e); 35-47-4-6; 35-50-3-2
2 IC §§ 35-47-4-5(c); 35-50-2-5.5

What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.1 If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

1National Criminal Justice Reference Service website

More Information and Where to Get Help

I do not have an order for protection against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Is there anything I can do?

Even if you do not have an order for protection against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of any crime, Indiana state law makes it illegal to buy or have a firearm if a person:

  1. has been found by a judge to be “dangerous” during a hearing for the seizure and retention of firearms by law enforcement;1 or
  2. is unlawfully present in the United States.2

If neither of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. See our Indiana Places that Help page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, may restrict an abuser’s right to have a gun. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

For additional information on gun laws in Indiana, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.

1 IC § 35-47-4-6.5
2 IC § 35-47-4-8(b)

I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can also contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 x2.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area on our Places that Help page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.

Firearms Seizure and Retention Law

La ley de incautación y retención de armas de fuego le permite a el/la juez/a a ordenarle a la policía a que remueva y se quede (incaute y retenga) con las armas de fuego de una persona peligrosa.

What is allowed under the firearms seizure and retention law?

The firearms seizure and retention law allows law enforcement officers to remove firearms from “dangerous individuals” and keep them until a hearing can be held where a judge decides whether the individual is a threat to himself/herself or others.1 In addition, if law enforcement already removed the firearm from someone who s/he believes to be a dangerous individual without a warrant, this law empowers the judge to allow law enforcement to keep the firearm.2

1 Ind. Code §§ 35-47-14-3(a)
2 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-3(b)

What is the legal definition of a “dangerous individual”?

A dangerous individual is someone who presents:

  • an “imminent risk” (immediate risk) of personal injury to himself/herself or another person; or
  • a risk of personal injury to himself/herself or another person in the future and either:
    • s/he has a mental illness that may be controlled by medication and has not shown a pattern of taking medication willingly and consistently while not under supervision; or
    • there is a reasonable belief, supported by documented evidence, that s/he has a tendency for violent or suicidal behavior.1

If the judge finds probable cause exists to believe the individual is dangerous and in possession of a firearm, the judge may issue a search and seizure warrant for the individual’s firearms.2

1 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-1(a)
2 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-2(3)

Who can get firearms removed under the firearms seizure and retention law?

Only law enforcement officers can file to have an individual’s firearms removed. There are two ways that law enforcement can remove an individual’s firearms.

  1. Law enforcement officers may take and remove (seize) firearms from any individual whom the law enforcement officer believes to be dangerous without getting permission from a judge in a warrant. When this happens, the judge must have a hearing within 14 to 16 days to determine whether probable cause exists to find that the individual is dangerous and law enforcement should keep his/her firearms and concealed carry license, if s/he has one.1
  2. Law enforcement can also remove firearms by first filing an affidavit in court describing the facts that have led the officer to believe that a person is a “dangerous individual” and that s/he possesses a firearm.2 The affidavit must describe the officer’s interactions and conversations with either the individual who s/he believes is dangerous or interactions with another person who the officer believes to be credible and reliable.3

1 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-5
2 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-3(a)
3 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-2(1), (2)

How are firearms removed from a dangerous individual under this law? For how long are they removed?

There are two ways that an officer can take (seize) the firearms from an individual believed to be dangerous:

  1. A law enforcement officer can seize the firearms from any individual who the officer believes to be dangerous without a warrant. In this case, the officer must:
    • file an affidavit in court within 48 hours that:
      • explains why s/he seized the firearms; and
      • states the quantity and type of each firearm seized from the individual;
    • ask the judge for permission to keep (retain) the firearm.
  2. A law enforcement officer can file a petition in court asking the judge to issue a warrant allowing the officer to seize the firearm.1

In either scenario, after the firearms are seized, the officer must file a “search warrant return” with the court within 48 hours that lists the quantity and type of firearms seized.2

After the affidavit or the search warrant return is filed in court, the judge must hold a hearing within 14 days, or within 60 days if a continuance is requested, during which time the state must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the individual is dangerous.3 If this is proven, the judge will issue an order that does the following:

  • declares the person to be a dangerous individual;
  • orders law enforcement to keep the firearms that were seized;
  • suspends the individual’s license to carry a handgun;
  • prohibits the individual from renting, receiving, owning, or possessing a firearm; and
  • determines whether the individual should be referred to further proceedings regarding involuntarily detainment or commitment for mentally ill individuals.4

If the individual chooses to, s/he can file a petition asking the judge to allow the firearms to be:

  • transferred from law enforcement to a responsible third party or a federally-licensed firearms dealer; or
  • sold at auction by law enforcement with the money from the sale going to the individual.5

1 Ind. Code §§ 35-47-14-3(a); 35-47-14-4; 35-47-14-2(b)
2 Ind. Code §§ 35-47-14-2(b); 35-47-14-2(e)
3 Ind. Code §§ 35-47-14-5(a), (b); 35-47-14-6
4 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-6(c)
5 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-10(a)

Under what circumstances can the firearms be returned to the individual?

There are two ways in which a firearm that was seized would be returned.

  1. At the hearing to determine if the individual is “dangerous,” if the state does not prove its case by “clear and convincing evidence,” the law enforcement agency having custody of the firearm must return the firearm within five days.1
  2. At the hearing to determine if the individual is “dangerous,” if the state does prove its case and the firearms are kept by law enforcement, the individual can file a petition after 180 days have passed for a new hearing. At the hearing, the individual may be represented by an attorney. If the petition is filed within one year from when the firearms were seized, it’s the individual’s burden to prove that s/he is no longer dangerous. If the petition is filed after one year, it is the state’s burden to prove that the individual is still dangerous. If the judge determines that the individual is no longer dangerous, the judge must:
    • order the law enforcement agency having custody of the firearms to return them within five days;
    • terminate the order that prohibits the individual from having firearms; and
    • removed the suspension of the individual’s license to carry a handgun so that the individual may reapply for a license.2

If the judge rules against the individual in the hearing and declares that s/he is still a dangerous individual, the individual must wait another 180 days before filing a petition for another hearing.3

Note: If at least five years have passed since a judge held the first hearing, then the judge may order the law enforcement agency having custody of the firearm to dispose of the firearm permanently. However, before ordering law enforcement to permanently get rid of the firearms, the judge must give notice to the parties and conduct a hearing.4

1 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-3(6)(f)
2 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-8(a)-(f)
3 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-8(g)
4 Ind. Code § 35-47-14-9

What happens if a dangerous individual possesses a gun after the judge removes his/her firearms?

If the judge has ruled that the person whose firearms were removed is a “dangerous individual,” it is a class A misdemeanor for that person to knowingly or intentionally rents, purchase, receive, own, or possess a firearm.1 The punishment for a class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.2 The penalty is more serious for the person who sells or gives the firearm to the dangerous individual. That person can be guilty of a level 5 felony, which can be punished with between one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.3

1 Ind. Code § 35-47-4-6.5
2 Ind. Code § 35-50-3-2
3 Ind. Code §§ 35-47-4-6.7; 35-50-2-6(b)