The Impact of Indiana House Bill 1296


Marcelina Kukawska, Creative Director/Reporter

On July 1, 2022, Indiana House Bill 1296 went into effect, deeming it no longer necessary to obtain a permit nor license to carry a handgun in Indiana. In the course of the three months since this bill was passed, there have been eight mass shootings in Indiana, as well as local incidents involving firearms. It’s time for reform.

As a Republican stronghold, it’s no surprise that Indiana is straying away from a gun-free society. The bill, signed on March 21 by Gov. Eric Holcomb, has made it much easier for Indiana residents to be armed in public. While supporters of this bill may believe that this will grant individuals a greater sense of safety, the bill has actually put more lives in danger.

In order to understand the gravity of this bill, it’s important to know that Indiana’s highest homicide rate ever was just last year, with 271 killings— the majority of them committed with firearms. Since HB 1296 was passed, Indiana has faced eight mass shootings— two of which were on the same day, within less than three weeks of the bill’s passing. In the past two years, gun violence has become the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in Indiana. 

In recent weeks, South Bend has felt its fair share of the impact of the bill. Less than four weeks ago, on September 20, a firearm was discharged on a bus transporting students from Jackson Middle School. Nobody was harmed, but the incident shook the community. Two days later, a student at Washington High School was arrested after a loaded firearm was found in his backpack. Concerns regarding the safety of the students continue to rise among parents and teachers. 

Two weeks ago, I personally felt the impact of the bill when I drove through a shoot-out in South Bend. I was taking a route that I use everyday when driving to and from school when two men started shooting at each other from opposite sides of the street, with myself right in the middle of it. A whole line of passing cars drove through the path of their bullets. 

The sole possibility of being able to keep a firearm on oneself at any given moment during the day seems to have enabled people to do thoughtless things, like bring firearms to school or use them in the middle of a busy street. The disregard for the safety of others is spreading through Indiana as a result of the bill. 

With the record that Indiana has regarding gun violence, limiting access to firearms is essential to the safety of the people. Rather than making it easier for every person in the state to obtain a firearm, Indiana should focus on creating firm regulations that will decrease the purchase and distribution of firearms. 

House Bill 1296 is a reckless step in the wrong direction. At a time when gun violence is surging through the country— with mass shootings in schools, malls, and grocery stores— the state should not be providing more people with firearms than it already has. Indiana must reform its gun laws for the sake of its own residents and for the safety of the country as a whole.