Kentucky House Democrats file sweeping bill to curb gun violence
Supporters say House Bill 502 would help keep guns out of the wrong hands.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill they said will help keep guns out of the hands of those they say should not have them.
House Bill 502 contains new regulations that would affect every gun owner, but it also specifically targets those considered mentally unstable.
“As a society, we need to say enough is enough. Stop it,” said Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
Wayne said the bill is designed to stop another slaughter like those Parkland, Florida, and Marshall County, Kentucky, by placing limits on gun ownership.
“What we've done right now is overemphasize individual liberty when it comes to gun rights,” Wayne said. “So, this is an attempt to get it back into balance.”
Here are some of the new regulations contained in House Bill 502:
- Allowing local governments to regulate firearms
- Banning guns from college campuses
- Prohibiting the sale of bump stocks
- Requiring proper storage of weapons
- Licensing of gun owners
- Registration of firearms and ammunition
“To guarantee for society that we have responsible gun ownership, we'll have those people registered," Wayne said. "We do that with automobiles."
But Rep. Phil Moffett (R-Louisville) said House Bill 502 is more about political window-dressing than practical solutions. He said the big problem with the bill is it won't work.
“If someone wants to be violent, and they want to do something awful, the law does not prohibit them from doing that," Moffett said. "The law prosecutes them after they have done it. If laws kept people from doing bad things, we wouldn't have jails and prisons.”
But House Bill 502 goes even further than regulating lawful gun ownership. It would make changes to the justice system. The bill requires judges to consider taking guns away from those who have protective orders filed against them.
It also requires those found not guilty by reason of insanity to surrender their firearms.
“Those are the kind of people we need to weed out and say, 'You can't have a gun. It’s too dangerous for all of us,'” Wayne said.
Moffett said those kinds of reforms can be effective if done carefully.
“If it’s determined you’re mentally incompetent, you should not be allowed to own or carry a gun," Moffett said. "I think that's reasonable. I think that's still within the protections of the Second Amendment."
Wayne admitted passage of the big, comprehensive HB 502 is very unlikely. But parts of it are also being broken out and filed as separate, smaller bills to try to make them a bit easier for lawmakers to digest.
Rep. George Brown (D-Lexington) is the bill’s primary sponsor.
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