FRANKFORT — Domestic violence victims could apply for an expedited permit to carry a concealed gun under a bill that the Kentucky House approved Friday by a 79-to-13 vote.
House Bill 351 would allow the state to quickly issue concealed-carry permits for 45 days to people who have received court protective orders in abuse cases. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah, said abuse victims need a chance to protect themselves.
"This just levels the playing field for the potential victim," Watkins said.
Several Louisville lawmakers spoke against the bill, arguing that it's unwise to add a gun to a situation as volatile as an abusive relationship. There's no reason to think that victims carrying the guns would be trained in how to shoot, and the state could be setting some victims up for homicide prosecutions, critics said.
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"Ladies and gentlemen, this bill is madness," said Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville.
To obtain a concealed-carry permit by traditional means, applicants must prove that they've attended a firearms safety course or participated in the equivalent, such as military training.
The bill proceeds to the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a similar bill, SB 106, on Thursday.