A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky lawmakers writing of draft of ‘red flag’ legislation in advance of 2020 General Assembly


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A bipartisan group of Kentucky state senators is working on so-called red flag legislation that they hope to introduce during the 2020 session of the General Assembly.

The proposal would allow people such as police, family members and mental health professionals to seek the protection order from a judge, which would keep the individual from access to weapons, and determine how long it would remain in place.

The goal, lawmakers say, is to protect Kentuckians from gun violence while protecting due-process rights.

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey speaks at a press conference with fellow senators Julie Raque Adams and Paul Hornback behind him. The lawmakers are drafting a bipartisan bill on gun safety. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

Democratic Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey and Republican Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, both of Louisville, along with Republican Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, say they have been working on this bill for some time, not just since last weekend’s shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

“We have been actually been working on Extreme Risk Protection Orders for over a year,” McGarvey said. “And have been working in a bipartisan way for several months, to come up with legislation that will protect Kentuckians from violence, but also protect Kentuckians’ rights.”

“We have a real mental health crisis in this state,“ Raque Adams told reporters at a Thursday press conference. “We have extremely high rates of suicide, and these types of laws have proven that they decrease suicides. That’s a component that I’m particularly interested in.”

She noted the bill is still in its draft stage and that it’s an ongoing effort.

“It’s really exciting to me that we’re bringing in urban and rural, Republican and Democratic lawmakers,” Adams said. “It’s about time we have this conversation, and I think we can have this conversation and really have a strong due process component, so everyone feels protected.”

The proposal would allow people such as police, family members and mental health professionals to seek the protection order from a judge, which would keep the individual from access to weapons, and determine how long it would remain in place.

Hornback stated as a rural legislator and big proponent of Second Amendment rights, “This is not about taking guns, it’s about protection for people, because this is a strange new world we live in now.”

There is one requirement Hornback says must be in the legislation: “There is a penalty if you falsely accuse somebody. That’s in some of the bills around the nation, and we need to make sure that is in our bill here.”

Lt. Col. LaVita Chavous, assistant police chief with the Louisville Metro Police Department, also spoke in favor of the draft legislation.

“We respect everyone’s right to bear arms,” she said. “However, we feel that with everything going on in this country, that something has to be done. We want to let you know that we support this common-sense legislation, that will take the guns out of people’s hands who may post a risk to other people or themselves.”

McGarvey says the National Rifle Association has varying views on the issues, depending on how the bills are written, and that he wants to stop the use of fear tactics to stop progress on them.

“I was talking to a sheriff in Indiana, which has had such a law for many years. He said in his jurisdiction, these extreme risk protection orders in the ‘tens’ per year. Always fewer than 100.”

The three lawmakers said they are going to continue drafting a bill that will appeal to both sides of the aisle and expect to have a legislative committee hearing on the bill in November, prior to its formal introduction in January.


Related Posts

Leave a Comment