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Kentucky Democrats Have Little Hope To Lift Ban On Local Gun Control

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

Some Democratic lawmakers in Kentucky want the legislature to allow Lexington and Louisville to pass gun control ordinances to help curb gun violence in the cities. State law currently bans cities from passing any type of law regulating guns or gun accessories.

Democratic Sen. Reggie Thomas filed a bill earlier this month to allow Lexington and Louisville to pass their own gun laws after the accidental shooting of 15-year-old Trinity Gay, daughter of Olympic track star and Lexington native Tyson Gay.

“Something has to be done to stop this. And my bill gives communities like Louisville and Lexington the opportunity to address this rampant and senseless gun violence,” Thomas said in a video promoting the legislation.

Over the years, legislators have passed several laws banning local governments from passing any type of law regulating firearms sales or possession restrictions.

And with Republicans now in control of both legislative chambers, Louisville Democratic Rep. Jim Wayne said the proposal is likely “dead on arrival.”

“That’s D.O.A.,” Wayne said. “I don’t think in this state when you have as many NRA members in the legislature as we do, then it’s impossible to have them loosen the state laws regarding more strict gun safety ordinances in metro government.”

Over the summer, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called on the legislature to lift the ban on local gun ordinances as the city hurtles toward a historically high number of gun-related deaths this year.

But without a change in state law, those who want stricter gun laws won’t be able to change the situation on the local level.

Wayne said that shouldn’t be the case because Louisville is the “economic engine of the state.”

“The rest of the legislators should be respectful of what our unique needs are in Metro Louisville and what our values are,” he said.

The Louisville Metro Police Department is trying to acquire a system to detect gunshots around the city and began accepting bids from vendors that offer the technology.

A 2013 Bluegrass Poll showed that 75 percent of Kentucky voters support background checks on all gun buyers, even for sales between private buyers.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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