Bill proposes local gun laws



Amanda Bryant

In response to Lexington’s latest shootings, Sen. Reginald Thomas (D-Lexington) has pre-filed legislation that will allow local governments to regulate firearm laws. 

According to a statement from the Senate Democratic Leadership Office, he has attended the vigils of three victims of gun violence in the last month. The victims were a father in his mid-twenties, a pregnant woman in her early twenties and 15-year-old Trinity Gay.

In the United States, gun violence claims more than 30,000 lives annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“In order to reduce gun violence, urban-county governments and consolidated local governments, such as Lexington and Louisville, would be granted the ability to regulate firearms by ordinance,” a press release said. “Under Senator Thomas’ legislation, they would also be able to regulate the manufacture, sale, purchase, taxation, transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, storage and transportation of firearms, firearms components, ammunition and ammunition components, as long as it does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution.” 

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Currently, Kentucky ranks fourth in the 10 states with the least restrictive gun laws, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

This proposed bill came just days before a Tates Creek High School student brought a loaded gun to school on Nov. 2, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Lamaar Dequan Sanford has been charged with possession of a weapon on school property, possession of a concealed deadly weapon and resisting arrest, according to the Fayette County Jail website. 

“All gun laws now must be statewide. There is a strict local prohibition against any kind of implementation of any kind of gun laws or gun restrictions and my bill would eliminate that for your two largest metropolitan areas in Kentucky,” Thomas said. “Those cities would be able to have the ability to enact ordinances that could restrict those kind of occurrences and actions with handguns.” 

Thomas said Lexington had 19 murders in 2016. He said 2015 had 19 for the full year, and that  multiple factors led to the increase in local violence.

“There are a number of problems that we see in our community,” Thomas said. “There are problems of poverty, problems of low education and payment, problems of poor health, problems with drugs, there are a number of problems — but hand gun access has got it too easy now.”

Thomas said the legislation’s intent is not to take guns away, but to put new regulations in place that will save lives. 

BR 172 will be considered Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.