Politics

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday said legislation wouldn’t help reduce surging gun violence in the state’s urban centers.

In response, Mayor Greg Fischer said he would continue pushing for state legislation that would allow cities like Louisville to adopt their own gun laws.

Speaking at a press event in Louisville Monday, Bevin said people who think “more government rules” can help put an end to shootings in Lexington and Louisville “are delusional,” according to a report from the Lexington Herald Leader.

Instead, Bevin said communities need to do “some serious soul searching” and “ask hard questions” to “heal [themselves] from within.” He declined to offer specific thoughts on what can be done to address gun violence in Kentucky’s largest cities but said it concerns him.

“This has to be addressed, it will be addressed, one way or the other,” he said. “This is something we will get to.”

Bevin’s stance differs in part from that of Fischer, who earlier this summer began calling for a change to state law to allow cities to enact local gun laws that are stricter than statewide laws.

In an interview Tuesday, Fischer said despite what the governor said, he wants to push cities’ rights to adopt their own gun laws.

State Law Supersedes

Gun violence is on the rise in Louisville. The year will end with the highest homicide tally on record, and shootings have ballooned compared with previous years, according to police data.

Last week, on Thanksgiving Day, a shooting erupted in Shawnee Park near an annual football tournament. Police reported that seven people were shot and two were fatally wounded.

Local governments across Kentucky are currently barred from adopting any type of law regulating guns or gun accessories. Kentucky state lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting such laws in 2012.

Some state legislators want to change that. Louisville Sen. Reggie Thomas filed a bill earlier this month that, if approved, would give Lexington, Louisville and other cities the ability to enact their own gun laws. The bill has little hope of passing under the Republican majority.

Yet still, Fischer said his stance is unwavering: he wants the ability to pass local gun measures in Louisville. But he also said legislation alone won’t solve the issue.

“It takes a comprehensive approach,” he said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Fischer said he’s yet to discuss the city’s violence with Bevin. He has, however, talked with the governor about economic vitality, which, he said, is a driving force to reduce crime.

“When people are employed and they have good jobs, it leads to them having a hopeful future,” Fischer said. “So often what you see with crime and violence is that people don’t feel like they’re connected to a hopeful future.”

 

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.