Counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions have no authority under current law to restrict or prohibit the sale of firearms and/or ammunition during an emergency declaration, Attorney General Curtis Hill said today.
Attorney General Hill issued an advisory opinion on this subject following inquiries from state Sens. Jim Buck, Aaron Freeman and Jim Tomes. Their interest in the matter arose following reports that an Indiana county asked gun stores to close their doors during the state’s public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“Year after year, Indiana’s lawmakers have recognized the paramount importance of Hoosiers’ right to bear arms,” Attorney General Hill said. “We’re talking about a liberty so cherished as to be enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
Counties and municipalities have significant authority under Indiana’s “home rule” statutes, Attorney General Hill acknowledged, but they only retain power “that is not constitutionally or statutorily denied.”
“Disaster emergencies declared by the governor or local units of government do not abridge Hoosiers’ freedoms to buy, sell or otherwise transfer firearms or ammunition,” Attorney General Hill said. Further, he noted that Governor Eric Holcomb has explicitly classified “firearm and ammunition suppliers” as essential businesses in one of his recent executive orders, in keeping with existing Indiana law.