INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier lawmakers gave final approval Monday to pro-gun legislation just days before the National Rifle Association hosts some 80,000 gun rights advocates, including President Donald Trump, in Indiana's capital city for the NRA's national convention.
House Enrolled Act 1284 opens the door for more Hoosiers to carry guns in school buildings where guns generally are forbidden except by special permission of local authorities.
Under the plan, which would take effect July 1, any person legally authorized to carry a firearm may possess it in a school building when the building is being used by a church or other house of worship.
Similarly, a gun owner could bring his or her weapon into any church or religious building that's connected to a school, so long as the religious institution permits guns within its facilities.
Supporters of the measure said churches that believe their members should be free to carry guns while worshiping shouldn't have that right denied just because the church holds services in a school building, or because the sanctuary is connected to a school.
On the other hand, state Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, who opposed the measure, said, "I can't believe that we're going to have people sitting in church, with firearms, expecting to defend the entire church."
However, the legislation also provides that if a Hoosier uses a gun in self-defense — whether at a church, school, home or anywhere else — the shooter cannot be sued for civil damages if the person shot was committing a forcible felony or causing serious bodily injury to another person.
The proposal's immunity against civil damages even applies to lawsuits filed by any surviving relative or the estate of the person injured or killed by a gun owner acting in self-defense.
In addition, the measure makes Indiana's four-year handgun carry license into a five-year license, and eliminates the $10 application fee and $5 license fee for a five-year license, starting July 1, 2020.
It passed the Republican-controlled House, 64-17, and the Republican-controlled Senate, 37-7, and now goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to likely be signed into law.