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Kentucky bill blocking local law enforcement from assisting in federal firearm bans passes House

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Local authorities would be barred from assisting in federal firearms bans in a bill that passed the Kentucky House today.

House Bill 153 led by Republican Rep. Josh Bray of Mount Vernon would prevent local law enforcement from following any federal ban on firearms and ammunition or using public money to do so. It would also impose hefty penalties if law enforcement officials violate state policy.

The bill, if passed, would effectively invalidate the enforcement of any federal gun control laws in Kentucky and make the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Bray, whose bill HB 29 with the same language did not advance from the House last year, said it was about Kentuckians having control of their rights.

“Why this is so important is because it assures our fellow Kentuckians that the city police, the sheriffs, and the state police are not going to roll up and enforce any unconstitutional bans,” he said.

Support from the bill in the Republican-dominated legislature comes after federal gun safety legislation passed by the Biden Administration in 2022. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) which regulates firearms in the U.S. reclassified pistols with braces on par with deadly weapons in January. Bray said states should not be expected to follow that new rule.

Democratic representatives in the House said the bill would make communities and children more vulnerable to gun violence.

Louisville Rep. Josie Raymond came out in staunch opposition to the bill.

“Why are we wasting time and resources passing unnecessary, unwise, unconstitutional legislation to pledge allegiance to hunks of metal that are being used to kill our children? There are so many other gun related bills in this session we can pass that will help our communities be safe,” she said.

Federal lawmakers passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act after the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas last year. It added new background check requirements, incentives for states to implement red-flag laws, and restrictions on the sale of deadly weapons.

At least eight other states including Tennessee and West Virginia have passed similar laws.

Republican Rep. Bill Wesley from Ravenna, who voted yes on the bill, said instances of gun violence could not be blamed solely on guns.

“We have numerous reports of beatings, stabbings and rapes that has nothing to do with guns. It was the people that had the weapons. On behalf of the people of eastern Kentucky, I will say we’re not giving up any of our weapons,” he said.

Missouri passed a similar law in 2021 where agencies whose officers knowingly enforce federal gun laws could be hit with fines of $50,000 for each violating officer. Law enforcement officers in Missouri say it’s made their jobs more difficult due to the vagueness of the document’s language.

115 out of Kentucky’s 120 counties already have Second Amendment sanctuaries.

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