On March 15, 2024, Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law Indiana House Enrolled Act 1235 (“HEA 1235”), which seeks to put an end to the City of Gary’s decades long lawsuit against members of the firearms industry.  Despite the firearms industry already being heavily regulated by the federal government, some local municipalities have, over the years, attempted to usurp the authority of state and federal legislators to regulate the nationwide firearms industry and impose their anti-gun agendas on law-abiding business and individuals. To combat those unjust efforts, the federal government enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901 et seq. (“PLCAA”), and numerous states, including Indiana, enacted similar state laws to limit frivolous lawsuits against members of the firearms industry, all arising out of the criminal conduct of non-industry members.

Despite the existence of the PLCAA and a similar Indiana immunity law, the City of Gary’s lawsuit against the firearms industry, which has been pending since 1999, has survived dismissal.  In a response to this long-running and frivolous case, Indiana enacted HEA 1235, which states that only the State of Indiana “may bring or maintain an action by or on behalf of a political subdivision against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, seller, or dealer” concerning the “(1) design; (2) manufacture; (3) import; (4) export; (5) distribution; (6) advertising; (7) marketing; (8) sale; or (9) criminal, unlawful, or unintentional use” “of a firearm, ammunition, or a component part of a firearm or ammunition.”  It contains only two limited exceptions: for breach of contract or warranty claims brought by a political subdivision related to firearms and ammunition that it purchased; and to enforce zoning or business rules that apply generally to all businesses.

HEA 1235 was effective immediately upon signature by Governor Holcomb, and applies to pending, as well as potential future lawsuits. The firearm manufacturers named as defendants in the City of Gary’s lawsuit filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings on March 18, 2024, seeking to dismiss the City’s claims pursuant to HEA 1235.  Of note, representatives for the City had testified before the Indiana legislature in opposition to HEA 1235 that, if passed, it would result in the dismissal of its lawsuit.

HEA 1235 is an important step by the State of Indiana in continuing to ensure that its citizens maintain their Second Amendment rights and that the businesses that serve those individuals may operate without unreasonable intrusion from politically motivated efforts of local governments.

Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor the impact of HEA 1235.  If you have any questions regarding this law, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.