Matt Bevin signs bill letting people carry concealed guns without a permit

by Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal

Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law Monday a bill that lets people carry a concealed gun without first getting a permit or completing a background check and safety training.

Senate Bill 150 was backed by the National Rifle Association but opposed by groups such as Louisville Metro Police and the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police.

State law had required people to get a permit before carrying a concealed firearm.

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin talks with the press at the 55th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast. Aug. 23, 2018
Kentucky governor Matt Bevin talks with the press at the 55th annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast. Aug. 23, 2018 (Photo: Alton Strupp/Courier Journal)

That process involved undergoing a background check, completing some gun safety training and paying a $60 fee.

SB 150 axes the permit requirement for anyone who’s at least 21 years old and who meets other legal rules for gun ownership.

Proponents of SB 150, such as lead sponsor Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, noted that  people in Kentucky already are allowed to openly carry a gun without a permit. 

They also pointed to current permit process and mandatory fees as barriers that prevent poor people — and especially poor minorities — from carrying a concealed firearm for self-defense.

But opponents, including some law enforcement groups and the Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, have expressed concerns with SB 150 over the lack of required training.

The bill passed the Kentucky Senate and House in the past few weeks with both Democrats and Republicans supporting and opposing it.

Kentuckians will still have the option to get a concealed carry permit with the passage of SB 150. Many other states still require the permits and honor those issued in Kentucky, which is one reason someone might still want to get one.

Chris W. Cox, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action executive director, thanked Bevin in a statement “for his leadership on this critical issue.”

“This law is a common-sense measure that allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their fundamental right of self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs,” Cox said.

Tim Schmidt, U.S. Concealed Carry Association president, said in a statement that making it easier “for law-abiding Americans to carry a concealed weapon upholds the values of the Second Amendment and makes our country a safer place.”

“Responsibly-armed Americans are often the first line of defense in active shooter situations and government at all levels should be supporting them,” Schmidt said.

Others reacted to Bevin’s decision to sign SB 150 with harsher words.

On Twitter, Fred Guttenberg — whose daughter was one of 17 victims in last year’s Parkland, Florida, school shooting — wrote: “Dear Twitter friends who are marketers, can someone please come up with a graphic for Kentucky that says ‘Due to the unsafe conditions that may cost you your life, visitors are unwelcome in Kentucky.'”

Bevin’s approval of SB 150 makes Kentucky the 16th state with a permitless concealed carry law.

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Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com or 502-582-7030.