Article I, § 32 of the Indiana Constitution provides that “[t]he people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State.” Indiana courts have interpreted this provision to allow an individual to possess firearms for purposes of self-defense and defense of the state, subject to reasonable police power regulation.
In Matthews v. State of Indiana, the Supreme Court of Indiana rejected an Article I, § 32 challenge to a provision of the state’s Uniform Firearms Act prohibiting the carrying of a pistol without a license except in the home or fixed place of business.1 The court observed that the Act is intended to maximize control over criminal and careless uses of certain types of firearms while at the same time making them available to persons when needed for protection.2 Noting that Article I, § 32 “does not say that people shall have a right to bear pistols, or any other specific kind or type of arms” the court concluded that the challenged provision was a reasonable regulation of the use of firearms that may be readily concealed, enacted in the interest of public safety and welfare, and did not violate the state constitution.3
In Schubert v. DeBard, the Indiana Court of Appeals relied on Matthews in holding that an applicant for a license to carry a handgun for self-protection could not be denied the license on the ground that self-protection was not a proper reason to be licensed, because the Indiana Constitution “provides our citizenry the right to bear arms for their self-defense.”4
In Lewis v. State of Indiana, the court of appeals held that Indiana Code Annotated § 35-47-2-24 does not unconstitutionally infringe upon the right to bear arms under Article I, § 32.5 Section 35-47-2-24 places upon a defendant accused of a handgun offense the burden of proving that he or she has a license to carry a handgun or is exempt from statutory requirements.6
- 148 N.E.2d 334 (Ind. 1958).
- Matthews, 148 N.E.2d at 338.
- 398 N.E.2d 1339, 1341 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980).
- 484 N.E.2d 77 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985).
- Lewis, 484 N.E. 2d at 79. See also Baker v. State, 747 N.E.2d 633, 637 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001) (holding that Ind. Code § 35-47-4-5, which prohibits the possession of a firearm by a serious violent offender, does not unconstitutionally infringe upon the right to bear arms under Article 1, § 32), and Dozier v. State of Indiana, 709 N.E.2d 27 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999) (following Matthews, reaffirming the constitutionality of the state licensing statute, and rejecting Article I, § 32 challenges to statutes increasing the class of offense for a person carrying an unlicensed handgun on school property and prohibiting possession of a pistol by a person under age 18).