Indiana governor given bill to approve short-barreled shotguns

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) will soon have to decide if short-barreled shotguns will be allowed in the Hoosier State. (Photo: AP)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) will soon have to decide if short-barreled shotguns will be allowed in the Hoosier State. (Photo: AP)

Some National Firearms Act regulated items legal under federal law may soon be allowed in the Hoosier State if Gov. Mike Pence (R) signs legislation headed to his desk.

The proposal, introduced earlier this session, passed the Indiana Senate by a resounding 44-6 vote last month before sailing through the House by a 85-14 roll call on Tuesday.

An SBS, as interpreted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, consists of a shotgun that has a barrel less than 18 inches in length. The current Indiana regulations, dating back to the days when outlaws such as John Dillinger roamed the state, prohibit people from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, or possessing a short-barreled shotgun.

However those days, and the reason for the ban, argue state lawmakers, have long faded away.

“The reason why it does not go against anti-crime legislation, is that no Class III weapon has been used in a crime to the best of my knowledge in the 50 states in this country for the last 81 years that this legislation has been in existence federally,” Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Indianapolis, co-sponsor of a measure to allow these guns in Indiana, told Fox 59 last month.

The legislation, SB 433, will strike language from the state law that prohibits ownership, sale or possession of a shotgun having one or more barrels with a length of under 18 inches or one with an overall length of less than 26. Guns meeting this criteria would still need to be registered and compliant with NFA guidelines and anyone using one of these firearms in the commission of a crime would be liable for a 10-year sentence enhancement.

Industry groups praised the rapid progress of the legislation that saw little effective opposition.

“This is a great step in the right direction,” said Todd Rathner the Executive Director of the NFA Freedom Alliance, a group that advocates for reform of laws governing such firearms, told Thursday.

Rathner also stated that the state is primed for “shall certify” which his group plans to help bring to the state.

“Shall certify legislation compels Chief Law Enforcement Officers (CLEOs) to certify NFA paperwork unless they can show that the applicant is a prohibited possessor under the law. This would streamline the NFA process for Indiana residents,” said Rathner.

Should Indiana’s bill become law, the state will join some 40 others who allow private ownership of these NFA-compliant firearms. In recent years, a Michigan ban on short-barreled shotguns, as well as short-barreled rifles (SBR), was repealed in March 2014 after legislation to do so passed the state legislature by wide margins. Alabama did the same in 2010.

Pence, a Republican, has a history of signing pro-gun bills into law and is highly rated by the National Rifle Association who back the current measure.

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