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IN firearm sales cannot be restricted by local government during emergencies, IG says

2nd Amendment (Gorup de Besanez/WikiCommons)

City, county or other local forms of government cannot restrict the sale of firearms during an emergency declaration, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in official opinion released Thursday.

“No unit of government in the state of Indiana has the power to restrict the lawful exercise of the right to bear arms during a state or local emergency,” Hill wrote in his opinion.

He said they are also prohibited from ordering firearm retailers to close their businesses or “in any other way restricting or prohibiting the transfer or sales of firearms during an emergency declaration or otherwise.”

Hill issued the advisory at the request of Indiana Sens. Jim Buck, Aaron Freeman and Jim Tomes after an Indiana county asked gun stores to close during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Year after year, Indiana’s lawmakers have recognized the paramount importance of Hoosiers’ right to bear arms,” Hill said in a press release that accompanied his opinion. “We’re talking about a liberty so cherished as to be enshrined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

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While counties and municipalities have been granted various authority under Indiana’s “home rule” statutes, they only retain power “that is not constitutionally or statutorily denied,” according to the press release.

“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,” he said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has also classified firearm and ammunition suppliers as essential businesses in his executive orders, in keeping with existing Indiana law, Hill said.

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© 2020 The Herald Bulletin