Kentucky lawmakers approve NRA-backed concealed carry bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB/AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or training.

The bill, backed by the National Rifle Association, won final House passage Friday after a long debate. The measure now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin.

"Essentially, it comes down to the difference of wearing an outer garment, such as a jacket, over the firearm or not," Rep. Savannah Maddox said.

Under the measure, Kentuckians able to lawfully possess a firearm could conceal their weapons without a license. A gun-carrying permit now carries a fee and a training requirement.

"I'm voting yes on this bill today to protect women like my wife and protect children like my 4-year-old triplets at home," Rep. Robert Goforth said.

Supporters said the bill is a recognition of Kentuckians' gun-ownership rights. Opponents objected to dropping the training requirement as a condition for carrying concealed weapons. 

"It puts the lives of our citizens in danger," said Rep. Nima Kulkarni of Louisville. "Those are lives that we here are tasked with safeguarding." 

Many of those opponents are in Louisville.

"The Louisville Metro Police Department opposes this bill," Rep. Lisa Willner of Louisville. "The Kentucky Sheriff's Association opposes this bill. The Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police opposes this bill."

Rep. Charles Booker argued that the bill will put police on even higher alert. And he laid out a deadly scenario for African-American men.

Supporters said Kentuckians already can carry weapons openly without any training. But if they carry a gun under a coat, they currently need a permit. And the bill's backers accused opponents of using scare tactics.

"Either we believe in our Constitution, or we do not believe in the Constitution," Rep. John Blanton said. "Don't believe fear-mongering about the whole situation."

The House approved the bill, 60-37 

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I cover a range of stories for WDRB, but really enjoy tracking what's going on at our State Capitol. I grew up on military bases all over the world, but am a Kentuckian at heart. I'm an EKU alum, and have lived in Louisville for 30 years.