In 2016, the Indiana General Assembly enacted I.C. § 14-22-2-8 -- “Deer hunting; permitted firearms; required report”. This statute (subsection (b)(1)) limited rifle use to privately owned property during the firearms season. In 2017, this statute was amended by the legislature but the limiting provision remained intact.
Despite this clear legislative mandate, IDNR repeatedly permitted rifle access to public lands for deer hunting purposes while denying access to the public in both 2016 and 2017.
On January 10th, 2018, the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee passed (8-1) Senate Bill 20 – a bill that again amends I.C. § 14-22-2-8. Unlike the previous versions, this bill does not limit rifle use exclusively to privately owned land and in fact, if adopted, would enable IDNR to authorize rifle access for hunting purposes on public land during four (4) deer hunting seasons – seasons that have historically spanned a period of 5 months. During this time, the public will be excluded from entering the public park(s) for all other uses.
Senate Bill 20 is of significant public import. Public land is reserved for the recreational use of everyone. Rifles are inherently dangerous instrumentalities and serve no legitimate purpose on public property.
Any benefit from allowing rifles on public property comes at great expense to the public at large and confers little, if any benefit, on any specific person.
What’s most disturbing about the proposed amendments is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s complicity in IDNR’s deliberate defiance of the clear legislative mandate. The message being telegraphed to all executive agencies is to simply ignore any legislation deemed unfavorable or inconvenient. The will of the people be damned.
The history of this statute is also disturbing. This statute was sold to elected officials in 2016 as a pilot program that would serve to gather data to determine the impact of rifle use for a limited duration of time. Yet every year this statute gets amended.
Of what value will data serve when the parameters are repeatedly altered?
Please contact your Indiana state Senator and respectfully urge him/her to protect the public’s safety and best interests by opposing SB 20.
(You can locate your elected Indiana state officials here.)