Update on Gun Control Laws

Update on Gun Control Laws

Lately, everyone is talking about gun control, and unfortunately, some of what you may be hearing is not an accurate statement on the law in Kentucky.  As city officials, you must understand the laws that apply at the local level and how to comply with them.  Don’t get overwhelmed by information overload.  Get control by reviewing the FAQs below.

Q:  Did HB 500 authorize the open carry of weapons in city buildings?
A:  No. 

Some news outlets have recently reported that HB 500, passed in the 2012 Kentucky legislative session, allowed the open carry of weapons in city buildings.  This is incorrect.  Since 1891, the Kentucky Constitution has prohibited cities from banning the open carry of deadly weapons anywhere on city property. 

Section 1 of the Kentucky Constitution is similar to the federal Constitution, giving citizens “the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.”  Notice the use of the word “concealed.”  This means that while the Kentucky General Assembly has the power to enact laws relating to concealed weapons, it has no authority to enact laws relating to openly carried weapons.  Similarly, cities have no power to regulate the open carry of weapons, and only have as much power to regulate concealed weapons as the General Assembly has decided to grant to them.

So cities cannot prohibit the open carrying of weapons on city property or anywhere else.  This has always been the law, and HB 500 did nothing to change this.

Q:  Then what did HB 500 actually do?

A:  It amended KRS 65.870, a law that already prohibited most city gun control regulations, to expand and clarify what regulation is prohibited, which units of local government fall under the statutory requirements, and the consequences of breaking the law.  Here is exactly what the statute requires:

Q:  How does this actually affect city gun regulation?  What can we do?  What can we NOT do?

A:  Cities should use HB 500 as a starting point and reminder for understanding what is prohibited and the consequences of having ordinances or regulations that violate the law.  It is very important to note, however, that HB 500 did not affect longstanding laws that apply to cities and carve out exceptions to the general prohibition on local gun control.  Below is a summary of general laws on gun control that apply to cities.  Again, none of these rules are new – all cities should already be in compliance. 

Q:  What was the January 12 deadline information related to deadly weapons in KLC Direct Line and in the news? 

A:  The legislature set a deadline of January 12, 2013 for local governments and their agencies to repeal or amend any ordinances or regulations that did not comply with HB 500. 

Q:  What's the Bottom Line?

A:  Bottom line:  State and local governments are generally prohibited from regulating the open carry of deadly weapons.  This has always been the law, and has not changed recently, through HB 500 or any other law.  The state can make, and has made, laws governing regulation of concealed weapons.  Cities are generally prohibited from regulating concealed weapons as well as openly carried weapons, except as described above.  HB 500 simply broadens the coverage of this prohibition on local gun control and establishes clear penalties for violating the law. 

Review your local ordinances in conjunction with HB 500 and the list of general gun control laws above. 

If you have questions, please discuss them with your city attorney or contact the KLC Legal Department at 800-876-4552.