Kentucky lawmaker files bill mandating gun lock use

Under threat of up to 12 months in jail and a $500 fine, a Louisville area Democrat has pre-filed a measure that could lead to charges for those who store an unsecured gun.

The bill, introduced last week for the 2017 session, would make it a crime to store a gun in a way that a minor could access it, with enhanced punishments if a child used the gun to hurt or kill someone.

“What I’m really trying to do is sharpen the focus on this issue in a proactive way,” said bill sponsor Sen. Gerald A. Neal, as reported by the Courier-Journal. “I’m not anti-gun per se … It’s purely a safety issue.”

Neal’s proposal would revise state law to make it unlawful for a gun owner to store a firearm in a way that a minor could access it without a trigger lock. Violations would be a Class B misdemeanor, which carries up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine. Should a youth access an unsecured firearm without justification and use it to shoot someone, the crime would be a Class A misdemeanors which could incur 12 months in prison and $500 in fines.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws that impose criminal liability on those who store guns where minors could gain access to the firearm.

The National Rifle Association, though they endorse safe firearms storage especially in homes with children, feel that universal gun lock requirements are counterproductive and in an emergency can handicap a person who needs a gun for protection.

The current makeup of the Kentucky General Assembly is divided, with Republicans in control of the Senate and Democrats in charge of the House, though this is subject to change as several seats are up for grabs in the November election. Neal, the current Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman, has been in office since 1988.