Kentucky gun-control law proposed by group of liberal lawmakers

jbrammer@herald-leader.comFebruary 7, 2013 

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, left, and Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, introduce a wide-ranging gun control bill on Feb. 7, 2013. Photo by Jack Brammer | Staff

FRANKFORT — In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a trio of liberal Kentucky lawmakers unveiled a wide-ranging gun control bill Thursday.

The measure, among other things, would repeal a controversial state law that bars local governments from regulating guns. It also would prohibit guns on college campuses and require background checks for private gun sales to close the so-called "gun-show loophole."

It is competing against several pro-gun measures that already have been introduced in this year's General Assembly. They include House Bill 168, sponsored by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, which states that Kentucky would not recognize federal statutes and regulations that deny or abridge the right to keep and bear arms.

Damron said the bill is similar to legislation being approved in other states.

"While the federal government probably could override it, we want to put the Kentucky legislature on record that it is for the Second Amendment," he said.

The gun-control measure was unveiled in a Capitol news conference that attracted about 50 proponents. Some wore shirts that carried the names of gun victims.

"A growing number of people are seeking sensible changes to keep children safe and protect citizens in light of the mass murder of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.," said Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville.

He was joined by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, and Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington. The lawmakers plan to file identical legislation in the House and Senate.

The legislators acknowledged that the proposal will meet stiff resistance from many of their colleagues, but they said they look forward to starting a debate on the issue.

Damron said he would like the full House to take up his bill and the proposed gun-control measure "at the same time and let us debate them."

Marzian said the measure does not take away anyone's gun, but it would require the Kentucky State Police to come up with a licensing system for people who possess firearms and assault weapons and a system to track the sales of firearms and ammunition.

Wayne acknowledged that the law would allow state police to issue a regulation that limits possession of firearms with multiple rounds of ammunition.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the legislature would look with "a jaundiced eye" on any bill that restrict the Second Amendment. He added that he has not had time to review any of the gun measures filed.

The gun-control legislation also would:

■ Require the safe storage of firearms through the use of gun locks or safes.

■ Require a judge, when issuing an order of protection, to consider whether a person against whom the order is entered should be prohibited from possessing a firearm.

■ Require judges who pronounce a defendant not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill to demand the surrender of the defendant's firearms.

Some of the other gun-related measures under consideration in this year's legislative session include:

■ Senate Bill 92, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, which would limit the enforceability of federal firearms laws within the boundaries of Kentucky.

■ SB 90, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, which would allow felons who have had their felony records expunged to possess a firearm.

■ HB 156, sponsored by Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, which would attempt to exempt properly marked firearms and ammunition that are made in Kentucky from federal law. It's called the "Kentucky Firearms Freedom Act."

■ House Concurrent Resolution 46, sponsored by Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, which would create in the legislature the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force to study gun safety issues.

■ House Joint Resolution 33, sponsored by Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, which would nullify all federal legislation in violation of the Second Amendment.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog:

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