Lexington library, health department remove signs banning firearms

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comFebruary 15, 2013 

  • What's the Bottom Line?

    State and local governments are generally prohibited from regulating the open carry of deadly weapons. This has always been the law, and has not changed recently, through HB 500 or any other law. The state can make, and has made, laws governing regulation of concealed weapons. Cities are generally prohibited from regulating concealed weapons as well as openly carried weapons, except as described above. HB 500 simply broadens the coverage of this prohibition on local gun control and establishes clear penalties for violating the law.

    Source: Klc.org/news/2006/Update_on_Gun_Control_Laws

  • What's the law?

    65.870 Local firearms control ordinances prohibited — Exemption from immunity — Declaratory and injunctive relief.

    (1) No existing or future city, county, urban-county government, charter county, consolidated local government, unified local government, special district, local or regional public or quasi-public agency, board, commission, department, public corporation, or any person acting under the authority of any of these organizations may occupy any part of the field of regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, taxation, transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, storage, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, components of ammunition, firearms accessories, or combination thereof.

    (2) Any existing or future ordinance, executive order, administrative regulation, policy, procedure, rule, or any other form of executive or legislative action in violation of this section or the spirit thereof is hereby declared null, void, and unenforceable.

    (3) Any person or organization specified in subsection (1) of this section shall repeal, rescind, or amend to conform, any ordinance, administrative regulation, executive order, policy, procedure, rule, or other form of executive or legislative action in violation of this section or the spirit thereof within six (6) months after July 12, 2012.

    (4) Pursuant to Section 231 of the Constitution of Kentucky, insofar as any person or organization specified in subsection (1) of this section is considered an agent of the Commonwealth, it is the intent of the General Assembly to exempt them from any immunity provided in Section 231 of the Constitution of Kentucky to the extent provided in this section. A person or an organization whose membership is adversely affected by any ordinance, administrative regulation, executive order, policy, procedure, rule, or any other form of executive or legislative action promulgated or caused to be enforced in violation of this section or the spirit thereof may file suit against any person or organization specified in subsection (1) of this section in any court of this state having jurisdiction over any defendant to the suit for declaratory and injunctive relief. A court shall award the prevailing party in any such suit:

    (a) Reasonable attorney's fees and costs in accordance with the laws of this state; and

    (b) Expert witness fees and expenses.

    (5) If any person or organization specified in subsection (1) of this section violates this section or the spirit thereof, the court shall declare the improper ordinance, administrative regulation, executive order, policy, procedure, rule, or other form of executive or legislative action specified in subsection (1) of this section null, void, and unenforceable, and issue a permanent injunction against the person or organization specified in subsection (1) of this section prohibiting the enforcement of such ordinance, administrative regulation, executive order, policy, procedure, rule, or any other form of executive or legislative action specified in subsection (1) of this section.

    (6) A violation of this section by a public servant shall be a violation of either KRS

    522.020 or 522.030, depending on the circumstances of the violation.

    (7) The provisions of this section shall not apply where a statute specifically authorizes or directs an agency or person specified in subsection (1) of this section to regulate a subject specified in subsection (1) of this section.

    Source: Lrc.ky.gov/krs/065-00/870.pdf

Officials with the Lexington-Fayette Health Department, public library and Lextran say signs will come down or changes will be made to their policies on firearms in order to comply with state law.

All three Lexington agencies sought legal opinions last month after a revision to state law went into effect, barring local governments and government agencies from regulating guns. The revision — presented by State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, as House Bill 500 in the 2012 General Assembly — beefed up a Kentucky law prohibiting a city, county or merged government from regulating firearms. It extended the reach of the old law to include more types of local governments and local government agencies.

Newly added types of government that may not regulate firearms include charter, county and consolidated local governments; special districts; and a local or regional public or quasi-public agency, board, commission, department or public corporation.

Agencies have been reviewing their policies in light of the new law.

Lexington Public Library board members made a decision to change policy Wednesday, after their attorney informed them that the library can no longer prohibit the open or concealed carrying of weapons by people 18 years and older, said library director Ann Hammond.

The public library previously had a sign on the doors of its buildings banning concealed weapons. Hammond said those signs were being removed.

Even though they cannot ban weapons, library officials are "requesting that the public not bring deadly weapons into the library," unless they are doing it for professional purposes as in the case of law enforcement officers, said Hammond.

Similar opinions were returned to officials with the health department and LexTran.

The Lexington-Fayette Health Department will be removing from its front door a sign posted that says firearms and other weapons are prohibited, spokesman Kevin Hall said Friday. And officials at Lextran, the city's transit authority, said changes would be made to its ban on firearms on its property and on its buses; details were being finalized on Friday, Assistant General Manager Jared Forte said Friday.

At Lexington's health department, "we will be taking the signs down, as advised by counsel," said Hall, the spokesman. "We do not have an existing policy regarding firearms, so there isn't anything to change at this time. We will follow the law and permit firearms."

Forte of Lextran said that as of Friday "we feel based on the information we have received so far that we are required to (change the policy), we just don't know to what extent we need to change it."

"We are still checking with our attorney ... to give us clarification on the law to tell us what we actually can and cannot do," he said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409.Twitter:@vhspears

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