Kentucky Governor's Race Could Hinge On Red Flag, Permitless Carry

I’ve been writing quite a bit about the elections in Virginia next week, but there are also statewide elections in New Jersey as well as local elections across the country that gun owners should be paying attention to. And in Kentucky, there’s a gubernatorial election as well, with current governor Matt Bevin squaring off against state Attorney General Andy Beshear. That race is seeing an increasing focus on gun control in the final days of the campaign, with Beshear touting his support for anti-gun measures while speaking on the stump this week.

Beshear rallied voters in Louisville and expressed his support for additional gun control legislation during the first stop of his bus tour. He believes the state needs new legislation to ensure public safety.

“I support what is called a Red Flag law. What that does is it protects people’s Second Amendment rights but it allows someone, a family member or law enforcement to step in and stop an imminent threat by going to court,” Beshear said.

I’m not sure how Beshear can say with a straight face that red flag laws protect people’s Second Amendment rights, particularly when the red flag legislation that’s being proposed in Kentucky would allow for firearms to be seized  before the gun owner is entitled to a hearing. He’s not the only one making those claims, unfortunately. Democrat State Senator Morgan McGarvey also says that folks subjected to a red flag order will still have their due process rights protected.

“This is not taking people’s guns away without a due process,” McGarvey said. “This is temporarily removing people we think have mental health problems or who have displayed violent, disturbing behavior … from access to firearms.”

Someone losing such access would be back before a judge within two weeks for another hearing, he said. Most laws in other states stipulate that only specific people may petition a court for an extreme risk protection order.

This is about taking firearms away from people who haven’t been accused of a crime, much less convicted or adjudicated as mentally defective. While Beshear’s on board with the red flag language, current Governor Matt Bevin has some issues with the proposal.

Bevin also weighed in on Beshear’s red flag proposal, saying “It sounds good because everyone knows the color red, everyone knows what a flag is and it’s easy to say but nobody really knows what it means. What it does mean is an erosion. It’s an erosion of our right to privacy, an erosion of our rights to keep and bear arms.”

As governor, Bevin signed Kentucky’s permitless carry bill, but Beshear has been very careful not to say whether he supports the law or not, telling local media simply that “it is the law in Kentucky”, and asking folks to voluntarily get firearms training because it’s “the right thing to do.”

A couple of recent polls show Beshear with a double digit lead over Bevin, but with turnout expected to be far less than 50% of eligible voters, it’s going to to ultimately depend on which candidate gets out their base of support. If Bevin wins a second term, gun owners can breathe a little easier. If Beshear wins, on the other hand, gun owners better get ready for legislative battles in the Bluegrass state over the right to keep and bear arms.