Thu January 24, 2013
Fischer Backs President Obama's Gun Control Measures, but State Law Hampers City Efforts
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says President Obama's proposal for gun control laws are rational and that he'd like to see new legislation passed.
But those comments are in stark contrast to a state law that is forcing changes to the city's definition of deadly weapons and now allow firearms to be carried in city-owned buildings.
The mayor was in attendance for President Obama’s recent speech on gun control measures, but avoided direct support of any specific provisions. Last year, Louisville saw a 28 percent increase in homicides and the bulk of those were committed with handguns.
Speaking at the Kentucky African-American Heritage Center after his State of the City address on Thursday, Fischer said he supports stricter background checks and additional controls on assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets.
"We’ve got to put our police out on the street. Chief (Steve) Conrad and his team, and it is not right for criminals to have armor piercing bullets that outgun us on the street. I mean that’s a basic thing we should all be for," he says.
But a state law passed last year forbids the Metro Council from enacting tougher gun laws, and the amendment was approved by the council on a 18-to-4 vote Thursday evening.
Under the new state provisions that take effect his month, residents are now allowed to openly carry a firearm in any city-owned building including the Louisville Zoo, libraries, parks, City Hall and mayor's office.
The ordinance still classifies weapons such as knives, ninja stars, nunchuck karate sticks and brass knuckles as deadly, and a Fischer spokesman told The Courier-Journal those weapons will not be allowed in city facilities or buildings.
"The gun lobby is very strong in this country and it is very strong in this state. We in Louisville are preempted from even enacting any ordinances against guns because of what's been passed at the state level," Fischer told audience members. "People can walk in Metro Hall (Mayor's Office) downtown or the old City Hall where the Metro Council is—with their guns. And they can walk into a meeting with any of us in the chambers and have their guns. I personally don't think that creates a safe environment, but we can't do anything about it."
During his speech, Fischer said the city also wants to reduce violent offenses such as assault, rape and homicide by three each year.
On the national stage, Democrats unveiled a bill to ban assault weapons, but that faces an "uphill battle" in Congress.