Handgun

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new bill in Kentucky would eliminate requirements to hold a permit or license to carry a handgun.

Currently, people wanting to carry a concealed firearm in Kentucky have to receive a permit for their local sheriff’s office. Openly carrying a gun is legal in most part of the state.

Senate bill 150 would eliminate the licensing requirement to carry a concealed deadly weapon.

Under current law, in order to receive a carry concealed deadly weapon (CCDW) license, a person must 21 years old, not be a convicted felon and complete and pass a safety class.

“We teach a lot of things about firearms safety in the home, on the range, carrying while you're in public,” said Wayne Whitworth, a CCDW license instructor. “We also do a great deal with securing it if you've got children in the house and what to do if a police officer stops you.”

But Whitworth, a Marine corps veteran and member of the National Rifle Association, believes establishing constitutional carry is dangerous.

“I think this presents a real public danger," he said. "I think it puts the public at risk."

Kentucky is already an “open carry” state, meaning a person 21 or older can carry a gun without a permit as long as it’s visible.

“The minute I put my coat back on and cover up that gun, I'm guilty of a felony,” said (R) Senate Majority Floor leaders Damon Thayer. “It just seems under the Second Amendment, that is so important in our country, this is a simple change that ought to be made.”

Thayer is a co-sponsor to Senate bill 150.

In 2017, there were 33,872 concealed carry licenses issued by sheriff’s office across the commonwealth. Almost 41,000 license renewals were issued.

A concealed weapons permit in Kentucky also affords a person the ability to place a gun anywhere in a vehicle. Without it, a gun must be in a specified location such as the glove box.

"Now, a police officer that approaches a car would have to worry about a gun just about anywhere in the vehicle,” Whitworth said.

Fourteen states have constitutional carry laws in effect in some form, most of which have come into existence since 2010.

“It's not been an issue in other states, and the Second Amendment doesn't say you have a right to keep and bear arms as long as you complete a concealed deadly weapons course," Thayer said. "It says you have a right to keep and bear arms."

The bill was introduced Tuesday and is expected to be discussed and voted on during a committee on Thursday.

Reporter Lawrence Smith contributed to this story.

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Reporter

Travis Ragsdale joined WDRB in Jan. 2015. He focuses primarily on investigative reporting involving police, local government and infrastructure. He can be reached at 502-585-0817