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'Because it's needed.' | Louisville mayor signs gun ordinance

The ordinance would prohibit the discharge of firearms, with certain exceptions, in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed an ordinance making it illegal to fire a gun within the city unless under specific circumstances.

The legislation was consigned by councilmembers Pat Mulvihill (D-10), Bill Hollander (D-9) and Nicole George (D-21).

"No one should have to worry about stray bullets hitting their home, their car, or their loved one," Mulvihill said.

Louisville Metro Police Department Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Judah said the department supports the adoption of this ordinance "because it's needed."

"Shooting guns indiscriminately in populated neighborhoods defies common sense," Judah said. "Yet we deal with it every day."

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Councilmembers said Metro Call received 5,756 calls for shots fired in 2021. 

“We see people pulling a gun out and shooting it in the middle of the sidewalk," Judah said. "This allows our officers to investigate that as a crime instead of a nuisance.”

Mulvihill said the goal is to promote safety across the board in the city. 

Community members impacted by gun violence spoke at a Thursday news conference and said the gunfire is traumatizing. 

“I have a small 13-year-old that now doesn’t enjoy the Fourth of July, scared of New Years because of the rapid gunfire that goes on," Krista Gwynn said. 

Gwynn lost her son, Christian, in 2019 to gun violence. Last year, her daughter, Victoria, was also injured in a shooting at Ballard Park. 

“Enough is enough, we’re killing our future," Gwynn said.

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Councilmembers acknowledged the ordinance may face legal challenges, but said they believe it is written on a firm legal footing. 

They said this ordinance isn't something new either. Louisville had prohibited firing a gun within city limits prior to merging with the rest of Jefferson County in 2003.

And several cities across Kentucky already have laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms, including Lexington.

“This is a common-sense ordinance, less restrictive to what existed in Louisville prior to the merger," Councilman Hollander said. “No one thinks it will solve our gun violence crisis but it will give our police officers another tool and they need that tool.”

There are exceptions to this ordinance, however. Lawmakers said discharging a firearm would be permitted in these scenarios:

  • When legally defending persons or property
  • By police officers, military personnel, or similar officers in the execution of their official duties and during training
  • Within a properly zoned, and constructed, indoor firing range
  • When legally hunting on at least five acres of open land
  • When engaged in target shooting, skeet shooting, sport shooting or demonstration shooting on outdoor premises for which a written shooting permit has been obtained from the Department of Codes and Regulations

Anyone violating the ordinance could face misdemeanor charges. If convicted, the person could be fined up to $500, imprisoned for up to a year, or both.

The ordinance still needs to pass the full Metro Council. 

Its sponsors intend to file it officially by Monday and expect it to be assigned to a committee Thursday, February 3rd. 

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