Kentucky Becomes Latest State to Drop Permit For Concealed Firearms

March 12, 2019 Updated: March 12, 2019

Kentucky has become the latest in a growing list of states to ditch the permit rules on concealed carrying of firearms.

On March 11, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law a bill that allows residents over the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun without a specific permit.

The new law makes Kentucky the 16th state to allow what is sometimes called “constitutional carry,” hot on the heels of Oklahoma and  South Dakota, which both passed similar laws in the past month.

Kentucky state law previously recognized the right to openly carry a firearm without a permit but required that the same gun in a coat, jacket, or bag required a permit. The new law removes that last proviso.

Concealed Carry Classes
An unidentified man has his fingerprints taken as part of a concealed gun carry permit class in Utah, Jan. 9, 2016. (George Frey/Getty Images)

As in other states, supporters of the bill argued that the cost of the permit—and associated mandatory training—effectively forced people to have to purchase what they regard as a constitutional right.

“On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, we would like to thank Governor Bevin for his leadership on this critical issue,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action in a statement. “This law is a common sense measure that allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their fundamental right of self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs.”

They said it unfairly prevented poor people—and notably poor minorities—from being able to protect themselves.

Opponents of the bill, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said that allowing people to carry without the proper training raises safety concerns.

Lisa Begley, a concealed carry instructor in Kentucky, said that she was “a little torn” about the new law.

“If you’ve ever been through a concealed-carry class, you learn a lot about the laws that govern concealed-carry and what your legal liability is,” she told the Commonwealth Journal.

“I really like the idea of people being aware of the laws and aware of what their responsibilities are. I’ve had people go through the class and say, ‘That’s a lot of responsibility. I don’t want to get a permit after all, that’s too much responsibility.”

“If someone breaks in and you shoot them, you will still need a lawyer,” she said. “You could very well still be charged and it will still cost you money because you’re going to need a lawyer.”

Republican Rep. Savannah Maddox said, “Wearing a jacket and concealing the firearm should not create a legal requirement for training. Nor does the Second Amendment allow for the government to assess fees in order to do so.”

Firearm instructor Clark Aposhian teaches a concealed-weapons training class to 200 Utah teachers on Dec. 27, 2012, in West Valley City, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

“Responsibly-armed Americans are often the first line of defense in active shooter situations and government at all levels should be supporting them,” Schmidt said, according to the Courier Journal.

While Republican-dominated rural states like Kentucky have started to roll back the permit requirements on concealed carry, in states with tighter gun controls, a growing number of sheriffs are declaring their counties as “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” refusing to enforce gun control laws.

According to Reuters, in at least four states local conservative counties have been passing ‘resolutions’ which defy state laws that they consider to be infringements on the U.S. constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by instructor Clint Simon (R), at a concealed-weapons training class to 200 Utah teachers on Dec. 27, 2012, in West Valley City, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Sheriffs and county commissioners are threatening to allow some people deemed to be threats under “red flag” laws to keep their firearms.

Authorities in some jurisdictions could refuse to confiscate guns from 18- to 20-year-olds in states where the legal age for gun ownership is raised to 21.

For example, in Washington, nearly 60 percent of the voters approved an initiative to raise the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21, enhanced background checks, and increase the waiting period to buy such guns to 10 days.

However, according to Reuters, sheriffs in more than half of the state’s 39 counties have pledged not to enforce it, with five counties having passed resolutions.

Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey
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