Kentucky became the latest state to adopt a permitless gun-carry system when Republican governor Matt Bevin signed Senate Bill 150 into law on Monday.
The law will allow anyone who is over the age of 21 to legally carry a concealed firearm on their person so long as they are legally allowed to possess a firearm under state and federal law. It eliminates the state's previous permitting system as well as the training requirements and fees associated with it. Kentucky is now the 16th state to adopt permitless carry, often called "constitutional carry," and the third to do so this year.
South Dakota adopted permitless carry at the end of January and Oklahoma did so at the end of February. Kentucky's senate passed their permitless-carry bill by a vote of 29-8 while the house passed it by a vote of 60-37. Gov. Bevin said the law merely recognizes constitutionally protected rights in his opinion.
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"It recognizes the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States," Bevin told WKYT. "That's it. It doesn't break new ground. I'm a concealed-carry gun owner and so are many in Kentucky. Now you will not need to go through a process and get a license and permission in order to have your Second Amendment right."
Gun-control activists disputed the governor's assertion saying the new system could be a safety risk.
"This is not a constitutional issue. This is a safety issue," Connie Coartney, Kentucky state chapter lead for Moms Demand Action, told the Courier Journal. "This bill is dangerous. It puts everybody at greater risk. There's no need for it. Our current system is working."
The National Rifle Association, which advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 150, cheered the governor signing the bill into law and described it as "common sense."
"On behalf of the NRA's five million members, we would like to thank Governor Bevin for his leadership on this critical issue," Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. "This law is a common sense measure that allows law-abiding citizens to exercise their fundamental right of self-protection in the manner that best suits their needs."
With 16 states currently employing some sort of permitless-carry system, it is the second-most popular way to regulate concealed-gun carry in the country. Twenty-seven other states and the District of Columbia employ what’s commonly called a "shall-issue" system where those who pass background checks and meet other requirements are required by law to be issued concealed-carry permits. The remaining eight states employ what’s commonly called a "may-issue" system where those who pass the checks and meet the stated requirements can still be denied concealed-carry permits by the government officials in charge of issuing them.
Kentucky's new permitless-carry system will go into effect later this summer.