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Proposed Kentucky Law Would Allow Concealed Carry — Without Permits

AP Photo/Al Behrman, File

The National Rifle Association is cheering a Senate bill that would allow permitless concealed carry in Kentucky, but the bill's sponsor says he just wants to start a "good debate."

Under Senate Bill 150, residents age 21 and over would be legally allowed to carry concealed deadly weapons "without a license in the same locations where concealed carry license holders may carry them."

Asked about the impetus behind the bill, the sponsor, Republican Sen. Brandon Smith, says he's heard from Kentuckians with questions he couldn't answer.

"So as I began to talk to, say, women that were in a bad relationship that moved out into a trailer... worked the Waffle House, and packed a gun to keep her from getting killed by her boyfriend, and laying down with two little children in a trailer that she didn't live in, with a gun that a friend of hers loaned her... that's the kind of story that I didn't have an answer for," the Hazard Republican said. "Her thing is 'why am I a criminal?''

Smith said his intent is to hear from both sides.

"I think it's a good time for us to have the discussion," he tells WUKY.

While an increasing number of states are allowing permitless, sometimes called "constitutional," carry, many harbor reservations about removing safeguards.

"With the violence level the way it is, I think we should address... making it safer for our children and for our citizens," says Brenda Martin, a member of Moms Demand Action. "And I think if we have to take a few extra steps to do that, then we should be willing to do so."

Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts has said legislatures passing permitless carry are doing the "NRA's bidding."

"Of course we don't want to take away all guns," Martin says. "But we believe a lot more could be done to make guns accessible in a more safe way. We believe in better background checks to close up some of those loopholes."

SB150 is up for discussion in committee on Thursday.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.