“(The law) was directed at people who have a license to carry a firearm, who’ve qualified for one, who’ve gone through the proper background checks with police,” Tomes said. “Some people imagined that we were going to have people shooting up libraries and parks and that just hasn’t happened.”
Tomes said Relford’s lawsuit has prompted questions about whether he thinks the pre-emption law should be amended to include polling places. His answer: “Absolutely not.”
While some gun rights advocates may encourage legal gun owners to test the law this fall, Tomes is not doing so and he cautions gun owners to be aware of the public perception of guns. “The media reports so many negative stories about guns and gun owners that people are living in fear,” Tomes said. “People are conditioned to react badly to the sight of guns.”
Tomes said the preemption law protects the rights of legal gun owners, but he doesn’t encourage licensed gun owners to openly show or display their legal firearms in public places. “The intent of the 2011 firearm preemption law was to provide a uniform policy for legal firearms carriers statewide, allowing them to legally carry their firearms in places they couldn’t before,” he said.
Tomes said his reasoning for not advising open displays is two-fold. First, he said, is that Indiana’s “concealed carry” law already allows legally licensed owners to have their firearms on hand in public places in case of an emergency. “Openly carrying a firearm in public venues works against the idea of having protection in the case of an emergency by most likely making any legal carrier a target of those who are illegally carrying firearms,” Tomes said.
The second reason echoes his concern about how the public perceives the guns. “(B)ecause people are not accustomed to seeing an openly carried firearm in public places, it’s common courtesy to keep them concealed as to not excite unnecessary fear,” Tomes said. “Most legal firearms carriers are responsible enough to extend this courtesy to fellow Hoosiers, carrying their firearms concealed as a demonstration of respect.”