Thursday, August 31, 2000

Ky. rated worst for gun control

Lobby group gives F-minus, cites concealed carry law

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Kentucky has been selected as the worst of the 50 states by Handgun Control Inc. in terms of state laws relating to firearms and child safety.

[photo] Peter Garrett, a gun dealer in Newport, calls Handgun Control's low rating of Kentucky politically motivated and not based on statistics.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        The Washington, D.C.-based gun control lobbying group, in its fourth annual analysis of state laws protecting children from gun violence, gave Kentucky an unprecedented F-minus on a grading scale of A to F.

        Some state legislators and firearms advocates questioned HCI's analysis and the reasons for rating the states.

        “We don't support banning handguns or firearms,” HCI spokesman David Bernstein said Wednesday. “We do support common sense, reasonable measures to help prevent gun violence and keeping guns out of the hands of kids and criminals.”

        In HCI's latest report, 25 states received a D or F because they did not pass new legislation or strengthen existing legislation to make guns less accessible to children and criminals, Mr. Bernstein said.

        Ohio received a C-minus from the group, and Indiana earned a D.

        The HCI criteria for rating the states include concealed carry laws, juvenile handgun possession laws, sale/transfer of handguns to juveniles, state laws that prohibit cities from passing gun control ordinances, and secondary gun sales laws.

        “We believe we can keep kids safer by having less guns on the street,” Mr. Bernstein said, “especially in the case of concealed weapons carry laws.”

        Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, the author of Kentucky's concealed carry law, said Handgun Control is not against violence, it is against guns.

        “Their focus is to basically disarm law-abiding citizens,” Mr. Damron said.

        Kentucky, which previously earned an F from HCI, was given the F-minus because the General Assembly passed legislation this year permitting the carrying of concealed weapons in churches, and an amendment requiring cities and counties to turn over all confiscated firearms to the state police for auction.

        An auction was held Tuesday in Frankfort and the state earned $37,415 from the firearms sale, most of which will be used to purchase protective body armor for smaller Kentucky police departments.

        Peter Garrett, a federally licensed firearms dealer and gunsmith in Newport, said Wednesday he thought HCI's report was flawed.

        “I can't remember anyone being shot in a church because of the concealed carry law,” Mr. Garrett said. “In any event, the law stipulates that any business or organization that doesn't want concealed weapons on their premises can ban them.”

        Mr. Bernstein said that “when Congress refuses to act, and when you have a presidential candidate like George W. Bush who's running on a gun platform, it's even more important that state legislatures take the responsibility to protect families in the state.”


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