Bill advances that would make Kentucky a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary

Rep. Savannah Maddox (R-Dry Ridge) speaks during a committee meeting on House Bill 29 that would make Kentucky a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary state.

A bill that would make Kentucky a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary state passed the House Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Tuesday. It is on the House calendar for Wednesday, but there’s no guarantee it will get a vote. 

Sponsored by Rep. Josh Bray (R-Mount Vernon), House Bill 29 would prohibit a ban on firearms in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

“House Bill 29 is a bill that would designate the state of Kentucky as a 2nd amendment sanctuary state,” Bray said. “The concept behind this bill isn’t anything new. As a matter of fact, there have been 15 states that have enacted similar legislation, including Tennessee and Missouri.” 

One hundred and fifteen Kentucky counties have enacted similar resolutions. That number is out of 120. 

The bill would prohibit any ban “that infringes upon, calls into question, prohibits, restricts, or requires individual licensure for or registration of the purchase, ownership, possession, transfer, or use of any firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessory.”

One of those accessories has been facing increased scrutiny from Washington. Pistol braces, if banned, would make thousands of Kentuckians potential felons, Bray said. 

Pistol braces are a firearm accessory that is primarily designed to help a shooter fire their weapon with one hand.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen an increase from the rhetoric in Washington alluding to potential firearm regulation going forward, including something going on right now that hasn’t got a lot of attention here, is the ban of pistol braces,” Bray said. “It’s a very popular accessory.” 

Specifically, the bill cited The Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Printz v United States, and that the case “affirmed that the federal government does not have the authority to commandeer local or state agents to enforce federal policy.”

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Rep. Patti Minter (D-Bowling Green) said this could tie the hands of local law enforcement officials trying to work with federal officials. 

“Many of our local law enforcement groups or state law enforcement willingly collaborate with federal officials,” Minter said. “For example, people who work with the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) as task force officers that are leant by the local community to work on violent crime issues … my reading of this bill is it’s going to prevent local enforcement or state law enforcement from collaborating with federal authorities.” 

Bray responded that in section five, there’s nothing in the bill that would prohibit local law enforcement from working with the federal government, whether that be the ATF, DEA, or any other organization. 

“It does, however, say that law enforcement that they cannot, if it’s law enforcement activity relating to a federal ban on firearms or firearm accessories,” Bray said. 

One supporter of the bill is Nothern Kentucky Representative Savannah Maddox (R-Dry Ridge), who sits on the VMAPP committee. 

“I know this is an issue that is very important to myself and a myriad of folks across the Commonwealth,” Maddox said. 

But, the bill needs strengthening, Maddox said. One of the questions she asked referred to what happens to the entities if they violate the order. 

“There actually isn’t a penalty located within this bill,” Bray said. “If you look at the way medical marijuana or recreational marijuana it’s regulated at the federal level. At the state level, we can come in, do our own thing, and decriminalize it. This follows that same model.” 

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Maddox said some of the pro 2nd Amendment groups in Kentucky have had some criticisms of the bill because it’s not enforceable, and some of the terminology is poorly defined.

“A lot of the hyperbole surrounding this bill on both sides of the issue, even if it’s folks who are not in favor of making sure we’re protecting our right to keep and bear arms, or if it’s folks who are saying this is a weak or half measure, I think that’s hyperbole,” Maddox said.

But, Bray said he is open to making changes to make the bill as strong as possible. 

“Absolutely,” Bray said. “I haven’t heard any criticism from any of the 2nd Amendment groups personally, but I would love to work on it going forward.”