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Metro Council Continues Push To Make Local Gun Laws

Louisville City Hall
J. Tyler Franklin
Louisville City Hall

Proposals to strengthen Kentucky gun laws haven't garnered enough support for passage over the years, but Louisville Metro Council is continuing to push state lawmakers to pass a bill allowing local governments to enact their own gun control laws.

The council is scheduled to hear a resolution supporting such a bill Thursday during its regular meeting.

David James, who was recently named Metro Council’s president, is a primary sponsor of  the resolution. James cited increasing violence in Louisville and said House Bill 189, if signed into law, could help curb violence here.

“When you talk to police officers, you find that many of the people involved in the activities that we’re talking about, which is drugs and gangs, are buying firearms and having firearms they shouldn’t have,” James said. “The law-abiding citizen that isn’t out creating violence in our community, they have nothing to worry about. For the individual that is out creating violence in our community, they do.”

District 8 Councilman Brandon Coan also sponsored the resolution. Coan said the resolution’s purpose is to prompt modest changes for cities. He said locally, this should be a bipartisan issue.

“This is an issue that transcends politics," he said. "In our city, it is a matter of life and death.”

So far this year, there have been 10 murders in Louisville — nine involved guns. This year is also outpacing 2016 – the city’s deadliest year with 117 people murdered.

LMPD data show firearms caused 84 percent of the murders that year, and according to Louisville’s Health Equity Report, 78 percent of murders between 2011 and 2015 were committed using guns.

Democratic Rep. Attica Scott of Louisville helped sponsor the bill. She said the state can do better at helping local communities.

“We’re training our babies how to react when faced with an active shooter, but we are not taking action on gun safety,” Scott said. “House bill 189 was introduced to the local government committee on Jan. 18. Hopefully, the bill will receive a hearing.”

But it might not.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said allowing local governments to make their own gun laws could cause confusion.

"I don't think it's a good idea for them to do that," said Stivers, "because then what you're gonna do is you're gonna have people who unknowingly go into areas. And you're going to have potentially 120, based on the counties, not to mention there will be over 120 potential municipalities that will make different gun laws than everybody else.

"So you could potentially have several hundred different gun laws within the state."

Similar bills have been proposed over the past five years but died shortly after being introduced. Previous measures to nullify federal rules on guns and to expand some concealed carry permissions also died shortly after introduction.

House Bill 189 would have to pass out of committee and then win approval in the House and Senate before being signed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bills to extend gun rights, allowing concealed carry at post-secondary schools and arming school marshals, are also in the state legislature.

Stivers said the measure that would allow school marshals to carry guns could move forward.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.