Kentucky lawyers discuss Ky. gun laws, potential for reform after mass shooting in Uvalde

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – The Uvalde shooting has reignited a national debate over gun laws. Longtime 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,” Pillersdorf said.

The Giffords Law Center to End Gun Violence gives both states an “F” grade for their gun laws. Pillersdorf says Kentucky doesn’t have universal background checks, and a law passed in 2019 allows concealed carry without a license — otherwise known as constitutional carry.

“The idea that someone could walk into the courtroom with a gun during a hotly contested domestic battle is shocking,” Pillersdorf said. “But he sailed through the [Kentucky state] legislature, and it is the law today.

There are some restrictions on gun ownership, such as those for convicted felons and people under a domestic violence order. But in Pillersdorf’s experience, he’s represented many people who don’t even abide by those parts of state law.

“I’m always surprised how cavalier people are in terms of owning a gun when they know they’re convicted felons, when they know they’re under a restraining order. domestic violence,” Pillersdorf said. “It’s part of the culture.”

Louisville-based attorney Aubrey Williams joined the state legislature in the 1980s to try to introduce gun reform bills. But over time, he only saw more sophisticated weapons appear and in greater quantity.

Williams is among those reviewing current legislation and calling for change.

“It’s not easy to solve,” said Williams, who is also a former president of the Louisville branch of the NAACP. “What politicians need to start doing is putting the safety and sanity of this country before their office.”

Pillersdorf says his area of ​​the state has long supported gun ownership.

“Politically, Appalachia is very gun-friendly,” Pillersdorf said. “It’s not uncommon to see sheriffs or constables running for office with automatic weapons.”

But he thinks this latest mass shooting in Texas could have enough impact to cause a shift in the political landscape, both nationally and locally here in Kentucky.

“I don’t think we appreciate the magnitude, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen,” Pillersdorf said. “We will find out at the polls in November.”

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