Blog 4/21/22

Op-Ed: Firearm background checks soar in Indiana as crime concerns grow

Every American should feel confident in their ability to protect themselves and their families at all times. However, between rising crime rates and efforts by anti-gun legislators to limit their right to protection, Americans are questioning their safety. For this reason, people from all walks of life are embracing self-protection and becoming their family’s first line of defense. As congressional midterm elections approach, lawmakers should expect this issue to be top of mind for concerned voters.

The importance of this issue is on full display in Indiana, where concern about crime has risen dramatically. According to a recent survey by SafeWise, 68% of Hoosiers think crime is increasing, with 44% saying they’re concerned about it daily. In addition, only about one in two Hoosiers feel safe in the state. While these statistics are concerning, they’re not surprising given rising crime has been a national trend in recent years. After the most violent year in Indiana’s history in 2020, a new criminal homicide record was set in early November 2021. Rightfully so, Hoosiers are worried about unexpected danger that could come their way – and many are taking active steps to protect themselves.

To regain a sense of security, more Indiana residents are choosing to become their family’s first line of defense. In 2021 there were over 1.8 million firearm-related background checks in Indiana – ranking it among the top states for background checks last year. In January and February of 2022 alone, there have already been over 218 thousand background checks in the state, making Indiana fifth in the nation for overall background checks. This significant upward trend cannot be ignored; citizens are concerned about their safety, and it demands smart policy action from both state and federal lawmakers to protect the interests of responsibly armed Americans – action that Hoosiers will take note of as midterms approach.

Thankfully, there’s been positive momentum in Indiana to implement long overdue policies that help more law-abiding gun owners exercise their fundamental right to self-defense. Recently, Indiana became the twenty-fourth “constitutional carry” state to allow law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves at all times. This law will allow more Hoosiers to exercise their right to carry without concern of excessive government red tape and burdensome delays that come with obtaining a permit. Law-abiding Americans should not have to ask the government’s permission to exercise a constitutional right.

More states should model this kind of sound policy that helps law-abiding gun owners readily protect themselves and their families. Similarly, other states should adopt laws that help Americans protect themselves when traveling – like Indiana’s concealed carry reciprocity law, which honors permits from all states and jurisdictions. If we instituted a law like this on the national level – like the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act – we could help millions more law-abiding gun owners protect themselves at all times, regardless of state lines.

A majority of Indiana’s Members of Congress are strongly supportive of national concealed carry reciprocity, including Senators Braun and Young and Representatives Buschon, Banks, Walorski, Spartz, Baird, and Hollingsworth. As Senator Young has said, “responsible firearms owners play a key role in our community’s safety,” and national concealed carry reciprocity “will protect the rights of Hoosier firearms owners by ensuring any individual who is properly registered in the State of Indiana for a concealed carry permit can transport or possess the firearm legally in other states without fear of prosecution by establishing reciprocity across similar state programs.” He’s absolutely right – this legislation would help fulfill the full scope of citizens’ right to self-defense by allowing people to carry and utilize their firearm even when they leave the state. This right should not simply be cut off at the Indiana-Illinois border, for example, it should be recognized all throughout the country.

Even in Indiana where progress has been made to expand and support citizens’ right to self-protection, it’s clear that far too many people still feel unsafe in their own community – a sentiment echoed in many states across the U.S. More people need the confidence that they can protect themselves when walking home from work, driving across the state, picking up their kids from school, or attending a crowded event. This year, if lawmakers fail to respond and engage on important issues related to personal protection, rising crime, and the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, concerned citizens can and will make their voices heard at the polls.

Mike Lowney is the chief strategy officer at Delta Defense and executive director and chairman of the Board for U.S Concealed Carry Association for Saving Lives Super PAC.