May 23, 2006

Unbridled spirit of KY gun control

Some might say it’s ironic that a man was shot and killed last Sunday evening at a funeral home. The man, 33-year-old Kevin D. Carter, was attending the service of his future father-in-law when shots were fired into a crowd in front of A.D. Porter & Sons Funeral Home on West Chestnut Street. Five were hit; the other four sustained minor injuries. It was Louisville’s 20th homicide this year, the 12th in which a gun was involved, according to Officer Dwight Mitchell, a police spokesperson.Some might also call it ironic that, in three years following Michael Carneal’s bloody 1997 Paducah high school rampage — three dead, five wounded — the Kentucky state legislature not only failed to produce tighter gun control standards, it relaxed an existing concealed-carry law. That earned Kentucky the first-ever F-minus rating from the Brady Campaign, a non-partisan organization that advocates tougher gun control laws and issues yearly “report cards” on all 50 states (the bluegrass state maintains an “F”). Kentucky maintains some of the most lax gun control laws in America, and the state legislature has shown a general lack of interest in changing that in recent years. For instance, the only permit or license one needs to carry a gun is if he or she desires to keep the gun hidden. The federal Brady Act requires FBI background checks on all who purchase a gun, and many states have passed additional checks; not Kentucky. There is no state legislation holding parents responsible for having guns accessible to children, just as there is no law allowing police to maintain records of firearm sales. It comes as little surprise, then, that the number of Kentucky gun-related deaths in 2003 outpaced the national average, according to data maintained by the Centers for Disease Control. This, despite steep national declines in gun-related crimes in the past decade, and a general leveling off of gun use in crimes since an extreme spike in 1993.