In an effort to sidestep a state law that mandates guns seized by law enforcement be auctioned off by the Kentucky State Police, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said Thursday that the city would now disable firearms before turning them over to the state police force.
Going forward, he said, the Louisville Metro Police Department will render seized firearms inoperable by removing their firing pins before giving them to the Kentucky State Police. That action, however, will not render the firearms permanently inoperable; the firing pins will be sent to the Kentucky State Police alongside the weapon and can be reinstalled.
“These guns that are used to commit crimes end up back on our streets,” said Greenberg during a press conference at Metro Hall. “And too often, guns that are used to commit crimes are used to commit another crime. That needs to stop.”
Reporting by the Courier Journal in 2021 found that over the course of six years, 31 guns auctioned off by the Kentucky State Police were later tied to a criminal case in Louisville.
Louisville will also place “warning stickers” on disabled guns turned over to the Kentucky State Police stating that the firearm may have been used in a homicide.
Speaking at the press conference, LMPD Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said the city’s police force currently has “thousands” of confiscated firearms in its possession and at one point was sending 250 to 350 guns per month to the Kentucky State Police.
Greenberg presented the gun-disabling measure as a “first step” for Louisville, saying his team would work to advocate for state-level legislation that would allow Louisville to destroy firearms confiscated by police.
“When we seize drugs in our city, we don’t put those drugs back on the street and give them to a different drug dealer. We destroy them. Why don’t we do the same thing with guns? I want our city to do our part and permanently destroy illegal guns that have been used to commit crimes once in our city. Once is too many.”
On Wednesday, Rep. Keturah Herron (D-Louisville) introduced a bill that would allow any local law enforcement agency in the state to destroy confiscated firearms instead of turning them over to the state police force.
Under a Kentucky law in place since 1998, confiscated firearms that cannot be returned to their owner are to be sent to the Kentucky State Police and sold at auction, with the proceeds from those auctions going towards the purchase of body armor, firearms, and other equipment for local law enforcement agencies.
Greenberg’s announcement made good on a campaign promise to find a way around that law. The announcement also came one year and two days after Greenberg survived an assassination attempt at his Butchertown campaign office.
“I am fortunate to still be here today,” said Greenberg. “A year later, I don’t know how or why I’m here. But since that happened, I’ve known what I’m going to do. And what I’m doing is taking resolve every day as mayor of Louisville to crack down on illegal guns and reduce the amount of gun violence in our city.”