Kentucky attorneys discuss Ky. gun laws, potential for reform following Uvalde mass shooting
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The shooting in Uvalde has reignited a nation-wide debate over gun laws. Long-time eastern Kentucky attorney Ned Pillersdorf says the lax laws here in the commonwealth largely mirror those seen in Texas.
″Kentucky is no different than Texas in terms of our laws being the most lenient in terms of weapons,” said Pillersdorf.
The Giffords Law Center to End Gun Violence gives both states an ‘F’ grade for its gun laws. Pillersdorf says Kentucky does not have universal background checks, and a law passed in 2019 allows for concealed carry without a permit - otherwise known as constitutional carry.
There are certain restrictions to gun ownership, such as those for convicted felons and people under a domestic violence order. But in Pillersdorf’s experience, he’s represented numerous people who don’t even follow those parts of state law.
“I’m always surprised at how cavalier people are in terms of possessing a gun when they know they’re convicted felons, when they know they’re under a domestic violence order,” said Pillersdorf. “It’s just part of the culture.”
Louisville-based attorney Aubrey Williams joined the state legislature in the 1980s to try and bring gun reform bills to the table. But over time, he’s only seen more sophisticated weapons popping up, and in greater quantities.
Williams is among those scrutinizing current legislation and calling for change.
“It’s not easy to solve,” said Williams, who is also a former president of the NAACP’s Louisville branch. “What politicians have to begin to do is to put the safety and the sanity of this country ahead of their office.”
Pillersdorf says his area of the state has long been supportive of gun ownership.
“Politically, Appalachia is very sympathetic to the gun lobby,” Pillersdorf said. “It’s not unusual to see sheriffs or constables running for office holding automatic weapons.”
But he believes this latest mass shooting in Texas could be impactful enough to bring about change in the political landscape, both nationally and locally here in Kentucky.
“I don’t think we appreciate the scale, it’s hard to predict what will happen,” said Pillersdorf. “We’ll find out at the ballot box in the November.”
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