LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A bill awaiting the signature of Governor Matt Bevin will allow some off-duty and retired police officers to carry concealed weapons at locations where they could if working.
But House Bill 417 also includes amendments that creates new options for who can train Kentuckians looking to gain their Concealed Carry Deadly Weapon permit.
HB 417 passed the House with an overwhelming majority before heading to the Kentucky Senate which added amendments to allow national organizations including The National Rifle Association, The United States Concealed Carry Association, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation to train those looking to obtain a permit.
Representative Robert Benvenutti, District 88 Republican, sponsored the bill. He had no issues with the amendments added in the Senate but said his focus was giving bite to the bill passed in 2016.
Interest in that bill started in December of 2015 when some off-duty Louisville Metro Police Department officers reported being denied entry to a concert because the venue would not allow them in with concealed weapons. Despite the passage of the bill in 2016, Rep. Benvenutti said fines were needed to ensure enforcement.
“Unfortunately there were some business owners who, nonetheless in spite of that law, were denying access to off-duty and retired law enforcement officers”, Mr. Benvenutti said.
House Bill 417 brings with it fines from $500 for the first offense to $2,500 for a third offense.
But the amendments have at least one well-known business owner taking a watch-and-see approach to HB 417.
Barry Laws owns Openrange, a gun store and shooting range in Crestwood. He’s not just a CCDW instructor, Laws trains instructors to teach the class in Kentucky.
While he says he’s not concerned about competition, he’s curious as to whether a national organization will focus on Kentucky laws at the core of the concealed carry classes in the Commonwealth.
“Competition is always good because it gets people involved”, Laws said. “They get involved in shooting, more people are going to come in and see us. I don't see it as a loss. Whatever happens, my concern is, business-wise. We get a lot of people who don't know what they're doing, teaching classes with spotty curriculum, they come in here and think they're safe shooters and really aren't. That makes our job a little bit harder here."
Laws added that he felt the Kentucky-based focus was “critical”.
“I mean, we have a stand your ground in this state. In California you have to retreat until you can no longer retreat”, Laws said. “So there's a lot of differences in states, and if you don't know what those differences are, you don't know if you can go to a bar, if it's got to have food, how much food and if you don't know these things you can be in a lot of trouble.”
Rep. Benvenutti feels the bill lays out what must be taught and it will stand to Kentucky standards.
“So all it simply says is that these folks can now provide the training”, Rep. Benvenutti said. “But obviously those organizations would have to provide the training that Kentucky specifies.”
The bill is on Governor Matt Bevin’s desk. Benvenutti and others fully expect the Governor to sign the law which would go into effect in late June.
Here’s a link to the bill: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/17RS/HB417/bill.pdf