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‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ bill heads to Gov. Beshear’s desk

Students rally in Frankfort against gun violence on March 14, 2018.
Ryland Barton
Students rally in Frankfort against gun violence on March 14, 2018.

Police officers could face jail time if they enforce federal firearms bans, under a measure that cleared both chambers Wednesday.

Kentucky police officers would be punished for enforcing federal firearms restrictions under a bill heading to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk.

At least that’s what supporters of the proposal hope House Bill 153 will do. A federal judge struck down a similar measure that passed out of Missouri’s legislature in 2021, saying it interfered with the federal government’s ability to enforce lawfully enacted regulations.

Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, a Republican from Smithfield and supporter of the bill, said it would bolster the Second Amendment rights of Kentuckians.

“Right now we have a president in the oval office who is executive-order-happy, and he just recently issued another executive order to enforce more strict gun laws,” she said.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, recently issued an executive order attempting to expand background checks on gun buyers. Earlier in the year the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms issued restrictions on pistol braces and bump stocks.

The so-called “Second Amendment Sanctuary” bill would forbid police from enforcing federal restrictions related to firearms, accessories and ammunition. It would also prohibit state tax dollars from being spent enforcing restrictions.

Officers could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for violating the policy, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $250. A second offense could lead to a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor can earn offenders up to a year in prison, under Kentucky law.

The measure passed out of the Senate with a vote of 27-9, with a handful of Republicans joining all but one Democrat voting against.

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Benton and former police officer, voted against the bill, saying it put law enforcement in a difficult position by forcing them to go against federal laws.

“We are getting into a habit of going to extremes to make a point. We can make a point without having negative impacts on others that work within our government. It’s not fair to law enforcement what we did today,” he said.

Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, a Democrat from Louisville, said the proposal would create a dangerous precedent for lawmakers.

“I have never seen a law that makes it a crime for our law enforcement officers to cooperate with duly enacted laws,” she said. “To say that it is a crime for us to enforce or otherwise cooperate with laws that we don’t agree with — that is not democracy, that is a slippery slope.”

The proposal now heads to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk. If he vetoes the bill, lawmakers could easily override the move. It only takes a majority of members in each chamber to override a Kentucky governor’s veto.

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