A CBS4 inquiry of a law professor, the Secretary of State, a Second Amendment attorney and Marion County election officials about the legality of guns in Indiana polling places led to blank stares, confusion, misdirection and legal head scratching. Over the course of four days earlier this month, Donald Trump challenged gun owners to do something about what he termed Hillary Clinton’s plans to, “essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” and also called on poll watchers to prevent what he’s predicting to be a “rigged” election. “I would really be hopeful that anyone trying to make a point about exercising their Second Amendment rights would do that in a respectful way that wouldn’t in any way interfere with anyone’s right to vote,” said Carmel attorney Guy Relford who won a landmark voting-while-armed lawsuit following the 2012 primary election.
Relford’s client, an armed veteran, was denied his right to vote in a St. Joseph County fire station one year after state lawmakers passed pre-emption legislation essentially permitting Hoosiers to carry firearms in public with very few exceptions. “There’s no law that says you can’t take a gun into a fire station,” said Relford, “and there’s no federal or state law that says you can’t carry a gun into a polling place.”
Four years later, uncertainty still surrounds the rights of gun owners to vote or stand watch at a polling place while armed.
Dr. Jody Madeira of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law said, for the most part, when it comes to enforcing gun laws at polling places, such as stopping armed citizens from engaging voters outside the location or even standing watch as a party poll worker inside, Indiana election authorities are powerless. “They could not do anything about it and I know in Indiana and several other states you can carry rifles and long guns and they can be fairly intimidating and I think unfortunately you would have what amounts to a culture of public intimidation when people carry,” said Madeira.