FRANKFORT — Kentucky would not enforce any federal law or regulation made after Jan. 1, 2013, if it bans or restricts ownership of a semi-automatic firearm or requires gun registration under a bill a state Senate committee approved Thursday.
The measure is needed to protect the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives people the right to keep and bear arms, said Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, who sponsored the measure.
Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, rejected that argument, saying it is Senate Bill 129, not federal gun regulations proposed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, that would violate the U.S. Constitution.
President Barack Obama unveiled several gun control initiatives last month that he wants Congress to pass. They include legislation to require universal background checks for gun purchasers and reinstating a federal ban on assault weapons.
Stein said Carpenter's bill reminded her of recent news reports about Jackson County Sheriff Denny Peyman's public pronouncement that he would not enforce any new gun control laws he considers unconstitutional.
"I'm fearful and saddened that one sheriff's declaration has inspired an idea in this body that makes actual law to pass a bill that violates federal law," Stein said.
She said that amounts to treason.
Her arguments did not deter the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee from overwhelmingly approving the bill and sending it to the full Senate for consideration. Stein cast the only "no" vote in the committee.
Carpenter said some people think taking away gun rights is tyranny.
Stein acknowledged that public sentiment in Kentucky about gun restrictions might not mesh with her stance on the issue.
"I dare say in Kentucky that the public will say, 'Hear, hear, it's about time we told those feds to quit passing gun laws," Stein said.
The bill carries an emergency clause, meaning that it would take effect immediately upon becoming law.
The committee also unanimously approved SB 150, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, that reduces from 90 days to 60 days the amount of time state police have to approve or deny an application for a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon.