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New state law allows firearms in govt. buildings

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By Ben Carlson

It’s always been legal to walk around Lawrenceburg openly carrying a firearm.
A state law that went into effect several weeks ago now makes it legal to walk into nearly every public building carrying a firearm, too.
The law, which proclaims only the state can regulate firearms, breezed through the general assembly and was signed into law by the governor last spring. It effectively ends the ability of city and county governments to restrict people from openly carrying firearms into their offices.
The law also ends any restrictions put in place at public libraries, health departments, fire halls and other public locations except for judicial centers, schools and jails.
The change wasn’t received well in some Kentucky communities but went largely unnoticed in Lawrenceburg.
City Clerk Robbie Hume said the new law doesn’t change a thing at city hall, where there were no restrictions in place even before it went into effect.
“Some cities had ordinances that prohibited open carry and concealed carry of firearms in city hall, but we’ve haven’t had anything like that here,” Hume said.
“There is no prohibition anywhere in city government,” Hume added, including the fire and police stations.
Hume said he could recall only one time when a person entered city hall carrying a firearm, which was holstered on the person’s hip.
County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis said her office also never had a sign prohibiting firearms, as did Sheriff Troy Young, who said there was a sign years ago on the old sheriff’s office that dealt with firearms.
Young confirmed that carrying firearms or “weapons” of any kind remains illegal in schools, including the board of education facility and Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Young said the county courthouse is also off limits for firearms, including the offices of the county clerk and circuit court clerk.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway’s office has signs on its front and back doors forbidding concealed weapons. Asked Monday if those signs need to come down, Conway said he is looking into that because the back of his office doubles as a Department of Motor Vehicles testing location as well as a location for residents to meet with a representative of Congressman Andy Barr’s office once a month.
“If they need to come down, I’ll take them down,” Conway said.
Library director Pam Mullins said her facility operates as a special taxing district and never has had the legal authority to restrict firearms.
“I would not think we are a place that would require someone to carry a firearm but we’re obviously going to follow the law,” Mullins said, adding that her patrons include a number of children and elderly people who may feel uneasy if they see someone carrying a firearm into the building.
“I might make some people uneasy, but maybe some will feel safer,” she said.
Hume, the city clerk, said it’s understandable that others in city hall may be uncomfortable seeing someone carry in a firearm, and that the person very well could be asked why they are doing so.
“We would question it but not prohibit it,” he said, adding that although a separate statute allows cities to restrict concealed firearms, he’s aware of no effort locally to considering doing so.
Tim Wright, director of the health department, could not be reached Monday for comment.