On June 27, 2019 Kentucky passed a “Constitutional Carry” law. Constitutional carry allows Kentucky residents of 21 years or older to carry a concealed weapon without a Carry Concealed Deadly Weapons (CCDW) permit. The name “Constitutional Carry” refers to the Second Amendment right of citizens of the United States of America to bear arms. The state of Kentucky requires no background checks to carry a concealed firearm.
This represents a substantive change in Kentucky firearm law. Previously, all persons over the age of 21 years old could “open carry” a handgun within the state of Kentucky, and all persons over the age of 18 could open carry a shotgun or rifle. Open carry refers to the carrying of a weapon in such a way that it is not concealed. The most common example of open carry is an exposed holstered weapon. Persons under the age of 21 years are not permitted to own or posses a handgun of any kind.
Kentucky’s move to constitutional carry has ben lauded by gun rights activists. Opponents of the law are concerned that an essential check and balance to gun rights has been removed. The largest remaining restriction on firearm possession and sales is the prohibition on felons owning firearms. Kentucky law explicitly prohibits any possession of firearms by convicted felons. Firearms dealers are required to have all prospective gun buyers fill out the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms from 473. Sellers are then required to transmit the information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
If the search determines the person is not a felon, the seller may legally complete the sale. If it is determined that a felon has transported the firearm across state lines, the felon may also face federal charges that may result in a sentence of 10 years imprisonment. Any person charged with trafficking narcotics while in the possession of a firearm may also open themselves up to federal prosecution. If the case stays at the state level, any person who is convicted of a drug crime, while in possession of a firearm will face enhanced penalties. This includes those who otherwise were carrying firearms legally.
Possession of a rifle or shotgun by a convicted felon is a Class D felony which is punishable by 1 to 5 years imprisonment. However, if a convicted felon is found to be in possession of a handgun, the crime is elevated to a Class C felony which is punishable by 5 to 10 years imprisonment.
Some felons may try to game the system by having another person purchase the firearm for them, and then transfer the gun to the felon’s possession. This is commonly referred to as a “straw purchase.” Any person who knowingly sells or transfers a firearm to a convicted felon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in prison.
While Kentucky does have liberal gun laws, it is important to know their limitations. Most gun crimes in Kentucky result in felony charges. It is imperative you know your rights.