Kentucky bank shooting: State has ‘among the worst’ gun laws in US, activists say

State lawmakers are pushing to roll back gun laws on college campuses

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Monday 10 April 2023 18:49 BST
Kentucky Governor chokes up as he says two ‘close friends’ were killed in Louisville Shooting

Four people were killed and at least eight were wounded in a mass shooting at a bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, according to police.

Beyond the potential identity of the shooter, who died in an exchange of gunfire with police and is thought to be a former employee of the bank, officials have not released many details about the shooting, including what types of weapons were involved or how the individual obtained a gun in the first place.

What is known is that Kentucky has some of the least-strict gun laws in the US.

According to research Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun violence advocacy group, the state’s laws are “among the worst in the country.”

Kentucky became one of the numerous permitless carry states in 2019.

The state also lacks a number of gun control measures considered standard for reducing gun violence, including safe storage, background checks for hand guns, assault weapons bans, and “red flag” laws allowing courts to seize guns from dangerous people, according to Everytown.

The lack of regulation is matched with a high rate of gun violence in Kentucky.

The state is ranked 13th in the US for firearm mortality, according to the CDC, passing states with far larger populations.

Lawmakers are continuing to push to loosen gun restrictions in the state.

Republicans and the National Rifle Association are backing a bill that would ban gun-free zones at Kentucky colleges and universities.

Minority leader Mitch McConnell, one of Kentucky’s US senators, has received more than $1.2m in funding from the NRA throughout his political career, according to the Brady Campaign, a gun advocacy group.

As The Independent has reported, gun violence is often disproportionately concentrated in red states with lax gun laws.

Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Missouri, Alabama, and Alaska had the six highest per capita rates of gun deaths in 2020. These states also had the highest rates of gun ownership for the same period. In Mississippi, about half of adults live in a household with a gun.

Despite the deep support for gun ownership in Republican-controlled legislatures across the South, recent shootings may be turning a new political page.

Efforts from the Tennessee GOP to expel a group of Democratic lawmakers for engaging in a gun protest on the statehouse floor after the Nashville shooting have garnered nationwide criticism.

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