Group files suit against Winchester, Woodford Co., others over gun law

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comMarch 7, 2013 

A sign prohibits firearms or weapons in the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Newtown Pike. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

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A pro-gun group has filed lawsuits against six Kentucky city and county governments alleging that they violated a state law that prohibits local governments from regulating guns.

The group began filing lawsuits last week against Woodford County and the cities of Winchester, Louisville, Fort Thomas, Fort Mitchell and Warsaw, said Charles Riggs, president of Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition, in an interview Thursday.

"These governments chose not to make changes to their local ordinances as required by law, have failed in their duties to their constituents and have wasted the taxpayers' money in causing the suits to be placed against them," Riggs said in a news release.

At issue is a revision to state law presented by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, as House Bill 500 in the 2012 General Assembly. It beefed up a Kentucky law prohibiting local governments from regulating firearms. It extended the reach of the old law to include more types of local governments and local government agencies.

When the new law was adopted in July 2012, local governments were given a six-month grace period to amend or rescind their ordinances and remove illegal signs, Riggs said.

At the expiration of the grace period on Jan. 13, Riggs said his group identified several local governments that "were significant offenders."

Chris Hunt, one of the group's attorneys, said group members thought that filing the lawsuits was "the most efficient and even-handed way" of getting local governments to stop regulating guns.

The lawsuit against Woodford County targets an ordinance that makes it illegal to carry a concealed deadly weapon on the grounds of buildings and property owned, leased or controlled by the county.

Woodford County Attorney Alan George said Thursday that he had spoken with one of the gun group's attorneys and he will review the lawsuit with fiscal court on Tuesday.

The lawsuit against Winchester takes issue with its ban on firearms in parks.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said Thursday that he is asking the city attorney to make a recommendation.

As many as 15 additional lawsuits might be filed in the coming weeks, Riggs said.

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

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