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State denies more gun carry permits

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The number of Hoosiers who had an application for a gun permit denied has nearly doubled in the past few years.

Last year, more than 2,000 residents statewide were denied when they applied for a permit to carry a gun.

Indiana State Police do background checks on everyone who applies for a gun permit, and officials say the most common reason they will deny an application is if someone forgets to or intentionally does not disclose a previous conviction when they apply.

The number of gun permit denials has increased in recent years as new technology allows state police to better find information residents left off their applications, and state police are checking the applications even more carefully now that more are coming in, Commander of Firearms Lt. Mike Rogers said.

Since December, thousands of state residents have applied for permits to carry a gun for personal protection.

Some worry state legislators will change gun laws in response to the Connecticut school shootings.

The increase in applications has caused state police to take longer to approve the applications and to make sure all the information is correct, Rogers said.

“We’re doing more in-depth investigations to make sure that the people who are supposed to have permits get permits, and the people who are not supposed to have permits don’t get them,” Rogers said.

In the past four years, the number of applications state police denied statewide has nearly doubled from 1,054 in 2009 to 2,028 in 2012.

Applicants can be denied a gun permit if they don’t fit the state’s definition of a “proper person,” Rogers said.

Under state law, the proper person to receive a permit must meet a certain number of requirements, including:

  • Not having a felony conviction
  • Not being convicted for a domestic violence crime
  • Not having a record of being an alcohol or drug abuser
  • Not having a propensity for violent or emotionally unstable behavior, among other restrictions

Some restrictions require paperwork to prove or disprove, Rogers said.

For instance, to deny a person under the reasoning of being mentally unstable, state police must have a letter from a doctor saying that person should not be able to carry a gun.

Or, if a felony conviction has been reduced to a misdemeanor, the resident applying must make sure state police have paperwork with that information, Rogers said.

He said residents who are denied a gun permit will receive a letter in the mail letting them know why they weren’t approved, and they can choose to appeal the decision.

In the appeal process, residents can tell an administrative judge why they should get a permit and present information for their case.

For instance, if someone was denied for not writing down a conviction, the person can explain why or provide paperwork that says the conviction was expunged, Rogers said.

“If someone is denied, it isn’t the end all,” he said. “When we deny a license, the denial gives that person the opportunity to present information. The process isn’t quite that final.”

The number of denials also has gone up at the Franklin Police Department. Three residents were denied permits in 2010, and 20 residents were denied permits in 2012, said administrative secretary April Sneed, who processes the department’s gun permit applications.

Sneed believes more people were denied because state police started taking gun permit applications online in 2011, and residents have less opportunity to change the applications before mailing them.

Before, residents filled out a paper application at the local police department, and police ran a background check before giving the application back to the resident to send to state police, Sneed said. If local police found a conviction not included in the application during the background check, they could change the application before the resident mailed it off, Sneed said.

Now, state police receive one application from the resident and one from local police, and local police cannot change the resident’s application if it was already sent, Sneed said. If local police find a conviction in the background check and add it to their copy, state police will think the resident gave false information if the conviction is not included on the resident’s copy, she added.

“It’s hard to say you’re approved when you lied, though not intentionally,” Sneed said.

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