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Bipartisan Group Of Kentucky Lawmakers Proposes ‘Red Flag’ Bill

Ryland Barton

A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers has proposed a bill that would allow police or family members to ask a court to temporarily take guns away from people if they present a danger to themselves or others.

So-called“red flag laws” exist in at least 17 other states, including neighboring Indiana, and President Donald Trump recently signaled he might support a federal version of the policy.

Sen. Paul Hornback, a Republican from Shelbyville, said the law is necessary in a “strange new world.”

“I don’t look at this as gun control at all. I just don’t look at this that way. I look at it as public safety,” Hornback said. “I think the societal changes we have forces us to enact some good, common-sense type of laws out there to protect people.”

The bill — which hasn’t been finalized yet — is sponsored by Hornback, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams and Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat.

Democrats proposed similar bills during this year’s legislative session, but they failed without receiving a committee vote.

Raque Adams said she was optimistic about the bill’s chances during next year’s session, but that some lawmakers in the Republican-led legislature will need to be convinced.

“It’s going to require one-on-one, myself and Sen. Hornback reaching out. Not only educating, but also asking for their input. A lot of these bills are a collaborative process,” Raque Adams said.

The lawmakers said that they had been discussing the proposal before last week’s deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

Gov. Matt Bevin has shied away from supporting legislation that would limit gun possession. In an interview with WPSD in Paducah on Wednesday, Bevin said he wasn’t sure legislation was the answer to gun violence.

“More rules, more regulations, knee-jerk reactions are not going to fix it,” Bevin said.

“You want to try to prevent it, but I’m telling you there’s nothing that would prevent a person who wants to kill other people from using whatever means and method that they would want.”

Hornback said he had talked to Bevin about the proposal, but that the governor hadn’t yet signaled support or opposition yet.

“He didn’t say no,” Hornback said.

McGarvey noted that in 2017, the legislature overrode the governor’s veto on “Tim’s Law,” which allows courts to order involuntary outpatient mental health treatment.

“So while we do plan on working with everyone, the legislature has exercised its independence in the past and I would expect it to do so again this time,” McGarvey said.

McGarvey said the bill would be heard in the legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee on November 22.

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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