Three Metro Council members preparing to file common-sense gun legislation
Ordinance would prohibit the discharge of firearms, with certain exceptions, in Louisville Metro
Louisville – Metro Council members Pat Mulvihill (D-10), Bill Hollander (D-9), and Nicole George (D-21) hosted a press conference at City Hall Thursday morning to announce they intend to file legislation that would prohibit the discharge of firearms, with certain exceptions, in Louisville Metro.
Reports are regularly made from every corner of Jefferson County of reckless or celebratory gunfire. Metro Call received 5,756 calls for shots fired in 2021. And LMPD data shows there were 641 non-fatal shootings last year, which is a 108% increase from 2019.
Firing off a weapon can not only be terrifying for innocent bystanders, but it is also dangerous. Recent media reports highlighted the damage, injuries, and deaths linked to aimless gunfire.
“No one should have to worry about stray bullets hitting their home, their car, or their loved one. This is not a political issue. This is a common-sense issue. Adopting this ordinance to ban dangerous gunfire in Louisville will make a positive impact on everyone’s safety,” said Councilman Pat Mulvihill (D-10).
State law preempts local governments regarding the manufacture, sale, purchase, taxation, transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, storage, or transportation of firearms. However, state law does not preempt Louisville Metro Government from enacting common-sense gun legislation by prohibiting the discharge of firearms. With this new ordinance, LMPD would have another tool to help keep the citizens of Louisville safe.
“Most constituents think it is already illegal to discharge a firearm in Louisville but there is no general law to that effect. This common-sense ordinance, which mirrors existing law in many other cities, in Kentucky and across the nation, gives LMPD added resources to keep people safe,” said Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9).
Anyone violating the ordinance could face misdemeanor charges. If convicted, the person could be fined up to $500, imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both. The council members consulted with LMPD when creating this ordinance, and the department showed its support of the legislation at Thursday’s press conference.
“LMPD supports the adoption of this ordinance because it’s needed. Shooting guns indiscriminately in populated neighborhoods defies common sense, yet we deal with it every day. This ordinance gives our officers a needed tool to address this unsafe behavior while providing safe avenues for responsible shooting in less populated areas,” said LMPD Lt. Colonel Joshua Judah.
Before the city of Louisville and Jefferson County merged in 2003, Louisville prohibited firing a gun within city limits.
“Louisville has significantly grown in population since 2003, and what used to be rural areas of the county are now more dense. It makes sense to bring back this legislation as a way to help mitigate the current rise in crime,” said Councilwoman Nicole George (D-21).
Krista Gwynn attended the press conference on Thursday and spoke about how gun violence has impacted her family. Her son, Christian Gwynn, was shot and killed in 2019. Her daughter, Victoria Gwynn, was injured when gunfire erupted in Ballard Park.
“I think a law like this is important because we are losing our future to gun violence. It’s almost like this is a plague that we need to find a way to stop. My kids are scared to go outside during holidays because of all the celebratory gunfire. What goes up must come down. Our kids deserve a chance to grow up without fear, no matter what part of town you’re from,” said Krista Gwynn.
Several cities in Kentucky currently prohibit the discharge of firearms, including Lexington, Bowling Green, Shelbyville, and Erlanger. If adopted, this new ordinance would apply to smaller cities within Metro Louisville, if those cities do not already have more stringent rules.
“Public safety is my No. 1 priority and we must continue to explore all avenues to creating a safer city, including this ordinance, which will enhance our whole of government approach to public safety by adding common-sense gun law regulations across our county,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Thank you to Metro Council members Mulvihill, Hollander and George for drafting this ordinance and I look forward to it making its way through the Metro Council and public process.”
This ordinance would not infringe on Second Amendment rights, and there would be exceptions within the legislation. Discharging a firearm would be permitted in the following scenarios:
- When legally defending persons or property
- By peace officers, military personnel, or similar officers in the execution of their official duties and during training
- Within a properly zoned and constructed indoor firing range
- When legally hunting on at least five acres of open land
- When engaged in target shooting, skeet shooting, sport shooting, or demonstration shooting on outdoor premises for which a written shooting permit has been obtained from the Department of Codes and Regulations
As part of this legislation, the Department of Codes and Regulations will develop a shooting permit application form. There will be no charge for a permit issued for outdoor sport shooting.
The ordinance will be filed by the New Business deadline on Monday, January 31. It’s expected to be assigned to committee for discussion during the Metro Council meeting on Thursday, February 3.
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