LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Unless it's vetoed from Gov. Andy Beshear, a bill recently passed in Kentucky's legislature will allow any licensed attorney to carry a gun inside a courtroom.
Dozens of judges, law enforcement personnel, victims advocates and more gathered on the steps of the Jefferson County Hall of Justice on Monday morning to call on Beshear to veto House Bill 690.
The original intent of the bill reshuffled how the Kentucky Judicial Council is made up. To begin with, there was no language to include expanded who could bring a gun inside a courthouse.
"In a session full of crazy bills, House Bill 690 is absolutely insane," Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, said. "It needs to be vetoed, and that veto needs to stand."
The amendment was presented as a way to "just clear up some things that adds the Attorney General and Attorney General employees along with other licensed judicial people" Sen. Johnnie Turner, R-Harlan, said on the Senate floor.
The amendment passed with only one no-vote from McGarvey in the Senate and passed unanimously in the House of Representatives.
"Early in the legislative session, our office requested that the existing law be modified to also include prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office," Attorney General Daniel Cameron's spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said in an email. "The scope of our request was limited to attorneys who serve in a prosecutorial role in our office."
In an emailed statement, Turner said the amendment is "consistent with a long-standing practice for officers of the court in Kentucky."
Many officers of the court are already permitted to bring guns inside the courthouse, including assistant commonwealth's attorneys, judges, retired judges and retired law enforcement officers. But McGarvey maintains that few knew what the amendment did.
"I don't think many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle even know what's in it," McGarvey said.
But Turner said the amendment was filed on March 25th. The vote was on March 29th. Turner said this gave "Democrat leadership, their staff, the public and interested parties four days to review the bill."
The group speaking in opposition to the bill included Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell, Circuit Court Judge Jessica Green and Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine.
"I am as strongly opposed to this bill as I could possibly be," Wine said. "Not only was this the most innocuous bill that this provision could be attached to but it was also one that nobody took the time to look at."
McGarvey said the new language opens up the opportunity for defendants to have easier access to weapons in the courthouse.
"It is an adversarial place where we resolve disputes for people peacefully," McGarvey said. "Adding guns to any licensed attorney takes away that security."
A veto could be overridden by a Republican controlled legislature.
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