gun laws

Lisa Autry

Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie says a number of actions can be taken to improve school safety without banning assault-style weapons. 

The Republican lawmaker held a town hall in Bowling Green on Monday dubbed "A Conversation With Constituents."

The event drew a small, but passionate crowd frustrated by Congress’ inaction on gun control. Congressman Guthrie said he thinks the most effective response to school shootings is adding resource officers in every school.

"If people go into schools, if they illegally walk into schools with a gun, they know no one else in there has one unless it's a resource officer," Guthrie told WKU Public Radio.  "When you have a sign that says, 'This is a gun-free zone,' and then someone walks in with a gun, they know it's a gun-free zone."

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A bill to arm some Tennessee teachers is moving along in the state’s legislature.

The legislation would allow a select number of teachers to carry guns at schools across the Volunteer State.

The Tennessean reports it would expand a 2016 law that already allows two rural counties to have armed teachers on school grounds. Supporters say the bill is necessary because less than half of the state’s schools have a school resource officer due to a lack of funding.

Students Push As Lawmakers Ponder Gun Safety Bills

Mar 17, 2018
Nicole Erwin

In a recently released court video, Capt. Matt Hilbrecht of the Marshall County, Kentucky, Sheriff’s office testifies about his interrogation of Gabriel Parker, the 15-year-old accused of a mass shooting at Marshall County High School in January.

“We asked him initially when he had the thought of the school shooting,” Hilbrecht begins as he describes the events leading up to the shooting. The recording was released because Parker is being tried as an adult.

Hilbrecht explains how Parker got the 9mm pistol he would use to kill two teens and injure 17 others: Parker found it in his parents’ closet.


J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin says current gun and murder laws didn’t discourage recent school shootings, so people shouldn’t look to gun restrictions to prevent future mass shootings.

“What other law would a child who’s willing to break those three laws have obeyed that would have precluded something like this from happening,” Bevin said during an interview with Steve Inskeep on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Nicole Erwin

In this week’s episode of Kentucky Politics Distilled, a school shooting at Marshall County High School sparks debate in Frankfort over whether and how state government can try to prevent gun violence.

On Tuesday morning, a student opened fire on his classmates, killing two teenagers and injuring more than a dozen others. The incident has drawn sympathy from across the country and around the world.

And on the lighter side, what do purple cows have to do with the fractured politics of the Kentucky House of Representatives? Listen to this week’s wrap up with capitol reporter Ryland Barton.


Alix Mattingly

A day after two teenagers were killed and 18 others injured in a shooting at Marshall County High School, state legislators weighed in on whether the General Assembly should pass any policies to try and prevent similar tragedies.

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah, said he hoped the incident would “pull us together” but that the problem can’t be solved in Frankfort.

“I think the reality is no matter what we do physically, if the student is in the mind to do something like this, they’re going to do it,” said Carroll, who graduated from Marshall County High School and represents the area.

In Wake Of School Shooting, A Look At How Kids Get Guns

Jan 25, 2018
Nicole Erwin

Heather Adams sat in a line of cars along Kentucky Route 95, cars filled with parents who had just received the call no parent wants to get: A shooting at her child’s school, Marshall County High in Benton, Kentucky. Two 15-year-old students were killed and another 18 injured. 

Adams was waiting anxiously to pick up her children, a 15-year-old and a ten-year-old. Both were safe and so she could relax enough to talk a bit. Earlier, she was at the high school with other frantic parents looking for answers about their children.


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Despite a flurry of attention after last month’s mass shooting in Orlando, Congress won’t likely pass gun control legislation before members leave for summer break, which starts next week and lasts until September.

On Thursday, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives indefinitely postponed a vote on the most likely contender — an NRA-supported bill that would have created a review of gun sales to those on the FBI terrorist watch list.

The bill is identical to legislation proposed by Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and Majority Whip; it creates a 72-hour window in which federal officials could deny purchases for those on the list.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Garrison, said in an emailed statement that although House leadership could bring it back, he’s “glad the bill is dead.”

“This bill was unconstitutional, did not effectively counter terrorism, and rewarded Democrats for disrupting regular order in the House,” Massie said. “Also, the gun control language of the legislation had already failed in the Senate and was clearly dead on arrival in the House.”

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While Republicans and Democrats differ wildly on firearms issues in Congress, opposition to gun control measures transcends political parties in Kentucky.

Like most mass-shootings in recent history, the Orlando rampage that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub provoked cries for limiting access to guns.

In Kentucky, State Rep.-elect Attica Scott called for a ban on assault weapons, registering firearms and allowing local governments to pass their own gun laws.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo — the leader of the Democratically-led chamber that Scott is about to join — opposes the proposals.

“After 36 years in public office, I still have a 100 percent voting record in support of the Second Amendment and the NRA,” Stumbo said in a statement provided to Kentucky Public Radio. “As tragic as the events in Orlando were, I think these changes would be an over-reaction.”

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Former Louisville Metro Councilwoman and state Representative-elect Attica Scott said Kentucky needs to do more to combat gun violence in the wake of the Orlando shootings at a gay nightclub that killed 49 people.

Scott called for having gun owners register their guns, increasing the $60 application fee for concealed carriers and banning assault weapons like the one used in the Orlando shooting.

“That is not something that somebody should be able to purchase and use here in the state of Kentucky,” Scott said. “It’s unnecessary. Absolutely unnecessary. We should have a ban on certain types of guns.”

Scott recently won the Democratic primary for the 41st House District in West Louisville, defeating 35-year incumbent Rep. Tom Riner. She has no challenger in the general election.

Scott previously served for three years on Louisville Metro Council. The city is currently experiencing a spike in gun violence, with shootings up about 40 percent compared to this time in 2015.

J. Tyler Franklin

Over the past few days, top Republicans have given hints that they are considering some gun control measures in the wake of the mass-shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. That’s a sea change for GOP leaders who have typically blocked any new restrictions on gun ownership, citing Second Amendment rights.

The chief proposals include gun-purchasing restrictions for those on the FBI terrorist watch list and expanding background checks for gun buyers.

On Tuesday, several media outlets quoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he was “open to serious suggestions from the experts as to what we might be able to do to be helpful.”

And on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”

In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting — the deadliest in recent U.S. history, with 49 victims — calls for gun control have once again grown louder. In fact, they were shouted on the House floor on Monday. After Speaker Paul Ryan led a moment of silence, Democrats yelled, "Where's the bill?" at him, asking for new gun control measures.

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 bill to allow concealed weapons in Kentucky bars has passed its first committee hearing in the Legislature.

The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee approved the measure Tuesday. The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. John Schickel of Union, is the committee's chairman.

Current state law prohibits concealed firearms from being carried into bars, but Schickel's bill would allow it as long as those who carry them do not drink.

Schickel says current law allows people to openly carry visible weapons into bars at the proprietor's discretion.

Schickel also says his bill would not interfere with a bar owner's right to prohibit guns at an establishment.

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.

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