By Chris Arnold
A lawmaker is pushing a bill to repeal the prohibition against manufacturing, importing, selling or possessing a sawed-off shotgun.
Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, authored Senate Bill 433, which would also provide a 10-year sentence enhancement for a person who possesses a sawed-off shotgun in violation of federal law while dealing a controlled substance or dealing these weapons.
Indiana and federal law both define a sawed-off shotgun as having one or more barrels less than 18 inches in length and no more than 26 inches in length.
The shotguns are regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act, which requires an individual seeking to purchase one to complete appropriate NFA paperwork, receive a sign off from a chief law enforcement officer, undergo a background check, find a licensed dealer to purchase from, and pay a one-time tax of $200.
Indiana currently prohibits possession of these firearms, but Tomes wants to change that.
Tomes said many people own these firearms and have gone through all of the necessary federal steps to own one. He said the state should put the guns in the same category of other title two and class three firearms.
Erin Luper, a National Rifle Association representative, supported the bill as well and said Hollywood used to portray these guns as something used to murder someone, but today they are often used for home defense and as collector’s items.
Bill Bowden, of the Indiana State Rifle and Pistol Association, said his organization supports the bill because it would put Indiana in line with federal law.
“Many people not even aware of the fact that Indiana has a restriction on shotguns,” Bowden said. “I think it is time for Indiana to conform to federal standards.”
Michael Dvorak, a member of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, said he has no objection to the bill.
Dvorak said the prosecutor’s council would meet again to discuss language it has concerns about. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8-1 and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
Tomes said is confident about the bill as it moves forward.
“It has gotten bipartisan support already in the Senate,” Tomes said. “And it is not creating any new type of legislation as far as a new type of gun. It is just putting this gun in the same category as all other class three and title two firearms.”
Chris Arnold is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.