Kentuckians with concealed carry permits could bring firearms into schools, college halls and government offices where they may currently be banned under a bill proposed recently in the state House.
Under the proposal, any Kentuckian with a valid concealed deadly weapons license or a temporary permit could bring a concealed gun onto public elementary and secondary school property. Licensees and permit-holders could also bring concealed weapons to public universities and colleges, state and locally controlled government buildings, and to meetings of the state's legislative body.
Courtrooms and detention facilities would be exempt under the bill.
The legislation was proposed last month by Republican state House members Diane St. Onge of Lakeside Park, Kenny Imes of Murray, Richard Heath of Mayfield and Tim Moore of Elizabethtown.
Moore said the bill is an anti-terrorism measure.
"I just want to eliminate soft targets," he said.
Moore said schools, government buildings and even the state Capitol would be easier targets for terrorists to strike because people in those places can't properly defend themselves without firearms. He said firearms license holders are vetted, have been "trained to a degree" and are presumed to be "law-abiding and legitimate."
"When folks like this are in locations, criminals and terrorists would just as soon go elsewhere," he said.
Moore said he's received hundreds of messages from people showing support for the bill, including some public school educators. He declined to say which educators are backing the bill.
But he said getting equal support from House Democrats will be a challenge, especially given the current political climate. Democrats control the House with 50 seats; Republicans have 46, and four vacant seats will be decided in a special election early next month.
"I hope that [the bill] gets a hearing, but right now it would be a stretch given some of the leadership involved in the majority and the committee it's been sent to," he said.
The bill must gain approval from the House Judiciary Committee before it can proceed.
State Rep. Brent Yonts, a Greenville Democrat and vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he expects the bill to spark controversy .
Yonts said it would likely be met with opposition from parents and teachers who may take issue with offering such a large pool of people the option to carry a deadly weapon onto school property.
"School personnel would probably be reluctant to agree to third parties to come on [to school property] carrying weapons, and they not know who they are," he said.
Yonts said he couldn't predict whether the bill would be brought up in committee for discussion, which is decided by the committee chair. But even if it does, he said passage is far from guaranteed.
"It's going to be a tough bill to sell," he said.
Rep. Darryl Owens, a Louisville Democrat, chairs the committee. He could not be reached for comment Monday.