FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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Kentucky Gun Laws

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Introduction

Kentucky is also located in the heart of the United States.  Kentucky has a population of approximately 4,400,000 residents.  The long north boundary of Kentucky is the Ohio River and the states of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.  The eastern border is West Virginia and Virginia. The southern border is Tennessee, and to the west is Missouri. Open carry is legal in Kentucky even without a valid license to carry. By statute, Kentucky allows residents of other states to purchase firearms in Kentucky, and allows Kentucky residents to purchase firearms in other states, provided such sales comply with federal law.

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A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Kentucky Constitution states:

“All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: … 7) The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.”

[http://gunla.ws/ky1]

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B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of the Kentucky preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“No city, county or urban-county government may occupy any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or combination thereof.”

Kentucky allows the following entities to restrict concealed carry: (1) postsecondary educational institutions; and (2) any unit of government within the state in buildings that it owns, leases, or occupies – however, concealed carry is allowed in highway rest areas, public housing, and private dwellings.

[http://gunla.ws/ky2] & [http://gunla.ws/6vya]

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C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Kentucky will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Kentucky’s license:

“A person who is not a resident of Kentucky and who has a valid license issued by another state of the United States to carry a concealed deadly weapon in that state may, subject to provisions of Kentucky law, carry a concealed deadly weapon in Kentucky, and his or her license shall be considered as valid in Kentucky.” [http://gunla.ws/ky3]

Since there is no national carry license, as with the other states, some states are reciprocal with Kentucky and some are not.  Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Kentucky State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. Reference Kentucky’s reciprocity agreements here: [http://gunla.ws/s5rh]

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D. Duty to Inform Officers

Kentucky does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied. You must carry Your license at all times You are carrying a concealed firearm and You must display Your license upon request of a LEO. [http://gunla.ws/g01p]

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E. NFA Items

Kentucky permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. Hunting with suppressors is legal. CLEOs are required to sign an application for the transfer of any item regulated under the NFA within 15 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving it. [http://gunla.ws/0h3j]

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F. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Kentucky permits anyone who is legally allowed to possess a firearm to carry it without a permit in any closed container or compartment built into the vehicle, such as the glove compartment, center console, or seat pocket. [http://gunla.ws/ky3]

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G. Self-defense Laws

Kentucky has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, residence, or occupied motor vehicle. [http://gunla.ws/ky4]

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H. Criminal Provisions

Under Kentucky law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it was issued by Kentucky, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity between his or her state of license and Kentucky:

  • Any police station or sheriff’s office
  • A detention facility, prison or jail
  • The portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcohol for consumption on the premises, where that part of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose
  • A courthouse, solely occupied by the Court of Justice courtroom, or court proceeding
  • A school, including elementary, secondary, or day-care facility
  • Any part of an airport subject to inspection of persons and property
  • Firearms may be carried openly, but not concealed, in most public buildings, including the state capitol, libraries, courthouses, and public busses
  • Zoos and parks may not ban concealed carry on their premises
  • Firefighters with valid carry permits can carry on the job
  • Universities may ban the carrying of weapons on their premises
  • The law does not prohibit the owners of private land to exclude individuals carrying firearms. Failure to leave private land when asked could result in criminal trespass charges [http://gunla.ws/s5rh]
  • Any place prohibited by federal law

For a list of places where carrying a firearm is prohibited, see:

[http://gunla.ws/ky5]

 

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I. Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

No. “No Firearm” signs in Kentucky do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in state law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to arrest for criminal trespass. [http://gunla.ws/9sdo]

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J. Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that you not carry in the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.  [http://gunla.ws/xw3o]

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K. Open Carry

Open carry is legal in Kentucky. You may carry openly without a permit/license. The state preempts all local firearm laws in the state. The minimum age for open carry is 18. Places listed in the “Criminal Provisions” above apply to those who open carry. [http://gunla.ws/y2oo]

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More