Over the past decade, the number of concealed carry gun permits in Kentucky has risen from 11,000 issued in 2004 to 60,000 in 2013.
The increase has happened as Kentucky's general assembly has made it easier to own and carry guns. Law changes include allowing people to have concealed guns in their cars and elimination of a six-month residency requirement for a concealed carry license.
Kentucky's gun laws have ranked consistently among the country's most lenient. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave the state and "F" rating.
A proposal meant to put more armed guards in Tennessee schools has begun moving forward in the General Assembly. It offers money for schools to hire retired police officers and allows teachers with law enforcement backgrounds to carry a gun to class.
Whether a retired officer hired part-time as a security guard or a teacher already on the payroll, both would have to go through at least 40 hours of special training.
The legislation has the backing of Governor Bill Haslam and has trumped other proposals aimed at more broadly allowing teachers to go armed to class.
Some Republicans still want to mandate armed guards in every school, but others say the only reason they support this bill is because it doesn’t. Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville says schools aren’t as dangerous as they’re made out to be.
The Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice training said the number declined to 8,677 in February, but it was still at least double that of any month last year, aside from December. The training is required to receive a concealed carry license, which allows Kentuckians to carry a weapon out of sight under their clothing in public.
Faith Yount recently took a class at Open Range in Crestwood. After inheriting guns when her father died, the 38-year-old decided to get a license to protect herself and because "you don't know what will happen" with gun control.
Tennesseans could be a bit more discreet about carrying a handgun under a bill approved in the state House last night. The legislation would close carry permit records to the public.
The bill gives just one exception. If someone is suspected of being a felon or illegal alien – precluded from having a carry permit – the person’s information could be released. But there has to be some sort of evidence to show the Tennessee Department of Safety in the form of a government document, such as a warrant or a restraining order.
“Yes or no – basically – as to whether they have a carry permit,” said bill sponsor Rep. William Lamberth.
His bill is supported by the Tennessee Firearms Association, which wants to take down an online database. The Commercial Appeal newspaper has a searchable list of the names, birth years and zip codes of the state’s nearly 400,000 permit holders.
Bills in the Tennessee legislature that attempt to block the enforcement of federal gun laws in the state are unconstitutional, according to a just-released opinion from the state’s top lawyer.
The Tennessee Attorney General memo says the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause trumps state statutes, making it unlawful to nullify firearms laws made on the national level. He goes on to say the state legislature also can’t take a backdoor route and criminalize the enforcement of gun laws in Tennessee, which is exactly what a bill from Senator Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet does.
“I think he has an opinion just like the rest of us have an opinion,” says Beavers.
She says she will continue to push her legislation anyway, arguing that the Tenth Amendment gives states the right to govern themselves.
Hoping to reduce gun violence in Kentucky, two Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill that would allow Kentucky State Police to set regulations banning certain firearms or high-capacity magazines.
The bill, which state Sen. Kathy Stein plans to file in the Senate on Thursday, would also allow cities and colleges to ban guns and would require private background checks for every gun sale in Kentucky.
Stein, a Democrat from Lexington, said she's not seeking to infringe on Second Amendment rights from the U.S. Constitution.
"We value the Second Amendment," Stein said. " We recognize that there are very legitimate uses people have for guns, for sporting, for hunting and yes, for self-protection."
The bill's supporters say they are optimistic for a hearing in the short 2013 General Assembly session.
Closely watched legislation in Tennessee that would allow guns to be stored in cars – even on someone else’s private property – is headed for a vote in the full state Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the so-called “guns in trunks” measure against the wishes of some of the state’s largest employers. Bill Ozier, chairman of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, says plans to expand or invest in the state hinge on whether a corporation can still keep weapons out of their own parking lots.
“It is certainly more of a concern than you might otherwise think," said Ozier.
The bill has yet to begin making its way through the Tennessee House.