A bill to make it more difficult for local police to enforce federal gun laws and in some cases criminally penalize them, now heads to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk.
Kentucky lawmakers have secured enough votes to override a veto of House Bill 153, which bans state and local law enforcement and other public officials from enforcing federal firearms regulations enacted after Jan. 1, 2021.
Cathy Hobart, a volunteer for Kentucky Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said she is concerned the measure could hamper efforts to protect communities from rising levels of gun violence.
“What we know is that the more guns that are in circulation, the more likely they are to be stolen, the more likely they are to get into the hands of people that have no business having those guns like children and criminals,” Hobart pointed out.
According to Mental Health America, 85% of suicide attempts with a firearm result in death. More than 800 Kentuckians died by suicide in 2020, and 65% involved a firearm.
Kentuckians in crisis can call 988 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with suicide prevention and mental health counselors.
Hobart added it is not up to states to decide which federal laws they are going to enforce. She also pointed out the legislation’s vague wording could create confusion among police officers.
“It makes it difficult for law enforcement to know which laws to enforce,” Hobart contended. “That will lead to confusion, we think it will lead to more gun crime in the long run.”
Supporters of the bill argue the federal government, not the state of Kentucky, is responsible for enforcing its own gun laws. Last week President Biden signed an executive order strengthening background check requirements for firearms dealers.
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