LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer had strong words on Kentucky’s gun laws following a drive-by shooting that killed one Louisville student and hurt two others.

What You Need To Know

  • Louisville’s mayor called for stronger gun laws after a drive-by shooting that killed a student

  • Kentucky has relatively few gun laws compared to other states

  • Registration is not required, and neither is a concealed carry permit

  • One defense attorney said it’s not easy, politically, to make more restrictive gun laws in Kentucky

“Especially given the limitations placed on us by state laws that ban common sense gun measures, guns are everywhere. And it’s a huge source of this problem, not just today, but each and every day,” Fischer said.

Compared to other states, buying a gun in Kentucky is a relatively simple process.

“In Kentucky, the regime of laws involving firearms is relatively respectful of people’s rights under the second amendment to the United States Constitution, and various rights under the Kentucky Constitution as well,” said defense attorney Dan Carman. “Unless you’re a felon. That is, you have a felony conviction, or have a qualifying crime of domestic violence, or a qualifying order of domestic violence against you, or are an illegal alien, in other words, an undocumented person here, as a general matter, with certain exceptions involving certain types of weaponry, which is regulated by the federal government, you have a fairly unqualified right to own, possess, carry and use firearms.”

Carman has dealt with hundreds of cases involving firearms in his 16 years as a lawyer and calls himself a firearms enthusiast. He’s taught various classes and seminars around Kentucky concerning the state's gun laws and describes himself as an avid owner and enthusiast of firearms.

Unlike other states, registering guns is not required in Kentucky. People who try to buy a gun from a licensed commercial dealer will need to fill out a form generated by federal authorities, and licensed commercial dealers do run background checks.

Carman said there generally are no differences in restrictions when it comes to different types of guns, such as handguns, shotguns and rifles unless they are certain weapons that have federal regulations. Certain accessories such as silencers and other gun modifications often require certain federal registration.

Other than those, there aren’t many restrictions.

“If I have a friend down the hall in my office who wants to sell me a gun, they hand me the gun, I hand them the cash, and assuming I’m a person that’s allowed to possess a firearm in Kentucky, that’s that,” Carman said.

Democratic State Rep. Jeffery Donohue of Louisville tried to get an assault weapon ban passed through the Kentucky legislature in 2020, but the bill never made it to a committee.

Other attempts to tighten the state’s gun laws have failed to gain traction.

In fact, Carman said the trend has been to loosen restrictions for law-abiding citizens to buy guns.

As of a few years ago, Kentucky became a so-called "constitutional carry" state, meaning it’s not necessary to get a concealed carry permit to carry a gun in a concealed fashion, though many people still do.

“Politically, Kentucky is not a particularly easy place to, state-wide at least, to try to enact legislation that restricts firearm ownership and firearm possession. It’s just not easy to do that here,” Carman said.