Most of us who possess a license to carry a handgun in the State of Indiana understand that, to a very large extent, we are prohibited from having a firearm in or on school property. This includes, but is not limited to, school buildings, school buses and school parking lots. We do have a statute that allows the carrying of firearms by persons permitted to possess firearms who are transporting a person to or from school or to a school function as long as the possession is limited to possessing the firearm in a motor vehicle, and/ or storing the firearm on school property if locked securely and out of sight. There are exceptions for law enforcement officers, school resource officers, and for situations in which the school board has authorized individuals to posses a firearm on school property. It is safe to say that possession of a firearm, even by someone licensed to carry a handgun, is extremely restrictive on school property.
With particular interest is what the meaning of "school property" is when examining various institutions and organizations. Under Indiana statute (I.C. 35-31.5-2-285) school property means the following:
Why is this definition of interest for the person that has a license to carry a handgun if he or she seldom travels to what is conventional known as a "school?" The answer to that is you may be going to a "school" and you don't realize it when you go to church on Sunday morning - or at any other time. Although there are generally no restrictions regarding carrying a firearm to church in Indiana, unless the particular church prohibits the carrying of a firearm, the church where you attend worship services could be considered "school property." It is certainly possible that a church could be classified as a school under the preceding statute, and you are committing a class 6 felony. This can be the case if a school is being operated on church property and the operation of the school is one that has to be licensed under Indiana statute. The bottom line - you have to be very careful when attending church services as you could, in fact, be violating our statutes and committing a class 6 felony if your church could be classified as "school property."(1) A building or other structure owned or rented by:(A) a school corporation;(B) an entity that is required to be licensed under IC 12-17.2or IC 31-27;(C) a private school that is not supported and maintained by funds realized from the imposition of a tax on property, income, or sales; or(D) a federal, state, local, or nonprofit program or service operated to serve, assist, or otherwise benefit children who are at least three (3) years of age and not yet enrolled in kindergarten, including the following:(i) A Head Start program under 42 U.S.C. 9831 et seq.(ii) A special education preschool program.(iii) A developmental child care program for preschool children.(2) The grounds adjacent to and owned or rented in common with a building or other structure described in subdivision (1). As added by P.L.114-2012, SEC.67.
There is good news with regard to this issue. We understand that Jack E. Sandlin, who is a Senator in the Indiana legislator, has filed or intends to file a bill that clarifies our statute regarding firearms on church property. A press release issued by Senator Sandlin provides as follows: