Metro Louisville

Louisville Metro police have seized more than 1,400 firearms since the beginning of the year. Under state law, those guns will be auctioned off by Kentucky State Police, creating the possibility they could end up in the illegal gun trade.

Democratic mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg announced a proposal Wednesday to render those firearms inoperable before Louisville hands them over to the state. Greenberg said doing so would help disrupt the cycle of seized guns making their way to people committing crimes. 

“It’s the right thing to do for our police, who are working so hard to remove illegal guns from our streets, and it’s the right thing for our entire community,” he said. “We must be certain that guns taken off our streets will not be used again to harm our community.”

In 2014, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a law requiring seized guns to be sold at a public auction. Former state Rep. Robert Damron of Nicholasville authored the legislation.

While Damron has denied the law creates a revolving door of illegal firearms, a Courier-Journal investigation last year found at least 31 guns sold at auction that were later associated with another crime in Louisville. 

The law does not specify the condition the seized firearms have to be in when local departments hand them over to KSP. Greenberg, who is a lawyer, said he believes his proposal would survive legal scrutiny. 

The Democratic nominee for mayor described the idea during a press conference focused on his day-one priorities. Greenberg held the event at the Butchertown Market building, where he previously had his campaign office. It’s also where 21-year-old activist and writer Quintez Brown allegedly attempted to shoot him in February.

“A man walked into a pawn shop just as the store opened, bought a gun and, one hour later, walked into this building and fired that gun at me six times,” he said. “I don’t want that gun, or any gun, used to hurt or kill anyone in Louisville ever again.”

KSP keeps 20% of the proceeds from the sale of the seized firearms to reimburse the agency for running the program. The rest of the money funds the state’s Law Enforcement Protection Program, which distributes grants to local police departments for body armor, weapons, ammunition and body cameras.

Greenberg added that, if he’s elected, his administration would cover the “relatively small amount of money” Louisville police receive from the program.

Along with a number of independent candidates, Greenberg is facing Republican Bill Dieruf in the General Election on Nov. 8.

Dieruf, who is currently the term-limited mayor of Jeffersontown, released a statement Wednesday afternoon in response to Greenberg’s press conference. He did not address the proposal for seized guns directly, instead complaining that Greenberg copied his use of the term “day one” in his speech, as well as the argument that Louisville doesn’t need more studies but action. 

Dieruf also echoed claims he made at his own press conference on Tuesday: that Greenberg will be the same leader as Mayor Greg Fischer, who Dieruf said got Louisville into its public safety crisis in the first place.

“If voters select my opponent, it will be the same old direction, same old consultants, same old contributors,” he said in a written statement. “It’s not a new direction.”

Asked by a reporter to respond to Dieruf’s comments, Greenberg said Wednesday he’s not focused on his “opponent’s rants.”

“I’m focused on solutions and actions to move Louisville forward in a new direction, to improve public safety with real policies and real plans,” he said. 

Louisville Metro has seen back-to-back years of record-breaking gun violence, with more than 180 killings last year. Police have struggled to solve homicide cases as the number of victims soared. There have been 110 homicides so far this year, according to LMPD data.

This story has been updated.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.