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General Assembly '13: Gun laws pushed, but unlikely to pass

February 28, 2013|By Ben Kleppinger | ben@theinteriorjournal.com
  • Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, at right, listens on the floor of the state senate Feb. 21. Carpenter represents Lincoln, Rockcastle and Madison counties.
Ben Kleppinger / ben@theinteriorjournal.com

FRANKFORT — The state senator and representative representing Lincoln County in this year's general session have both thrown their support behind bills pushing against any future federal gun regulations, but getting those bills passed into law doesn't appear likely.

Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, and Rep. David Meade, R-Stanford, both said they have strong support from their constituents, who are worried the federal government may try to reduce their second-amendment rights.

"I call it the 'fear factor,'" Carpenter said. "People are scared that there's going to be a limitation put on what you're allowed to have — if you're allowed to buy it or not buy it."

Carpenter said ammunition is getting harder and harder to find at gun stores and other places like Walmart because people are buying as much as they can in anticipation of future federal bans.

Legislation he is sponsoring — Senate Bill 129 — would set gun owners' minds at ease by prohibiting the enforcement of any new federal regulations concerning guns, ammunition or gun accessories, Carpenter said.

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"So many people from my area and my district were calling me with concerns of all the push coming from the executive branch at the federal level to really change and modify the gun ownership policies to make it tougher and harder to own guns," Carpenter said. "They were really scared that Kentucky needed to get on the forefront of this thought process."

Meade said he has similar concerns about gun control laws that could come down from the federal government in the future.

"The federal government is trying to do away with our second amendment (rights). They're trying to ... enact so many gun control laws that we're afraid it's going to hinder our second-amendment rights here in Kentucky," he said. "We're trying to be proactive and combat some of those things before they happen."

Meade is a co-sponsor on a bill that would exempt guns and ammunition made in Kentucky from federal regulation.

House Bill 285 intends to prevent federal plans to raise taxes on ammunition from affecting the cost of Kentucky-made ammo, Meade said.

Meade is also a co-sponsor of House Bill 168, which warns that the proposed federal assault weapons ban "threatens the rights of Kentuckians to keep and bear arms" and recent executive orders from President Barack Obama "violate the President's powers under the Constitution."

The bill goes on to declare that "all federal acts, laws, orders, rules, and regulations regarding firearms, past, present, or future, violate the (U.S. Constitution)."

Following the horrific shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December, President Barack Obama issued 23 executive orders aimed at improving the background check process, disseminating information about gun violence, encouraging safe gun ownership and starting national conversations about guns.

According to a report from Forbes, none of the executive orders would affect gun owners' current rights and any proposal for limiting gun availability would have to go through congress first.

The Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate is currently considering legislation that would institute a new ban on assault weapons, but it seems unlikely such legislation will pass this year.

Similarly at the state level, Carpenter and Rep. Meade said all of the gun bills — both for and against gun control — introduced during this general session are unlikely to pass into law.

Meade said there have probably been six or seven bills introduced this session proposing stricter gun regulation and an equivalent number of bills pushing back against gun control.

The bill he co-sponors that would declare federal gun regulations unconstitutional was the most likely one to pass the state house, but it has been re-assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, he said.

"Typically, when they reassign them, they're wanting to kill them," he said.

Carpenter's anti-federal-gun-control bill has passed in the state senate 34-3 and Carpenter said if it makes it to the floor of the house, it will pass there, too.

"Out of 100 house members, 90 of them live in areas that people are concerned about their second-amendment rights," Carpenter said. "There will be some of the more liberal areas where that's not as big of a concern."

But getting the bill through house committees and onto the floor is an obstacle in itself.

"It will be extremely tough for it to get passed by both branches and signed by the governor," Carpenter said.

While Carpenter and Meade admitted proposing state laws running counter to federal laws aren't the norm, they both argued it is an acceptable legal move.

"The supremacy clause of the Constitution says that all states follow federal law as long as it falls within the constitution," Carpenter said. "But if your constitutional right is being jeopardized, then it's your right to say that you want to make sure that that right is not being (taken away)."

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