Louisville moves to ban "celebratory gunfire"

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And even though when politicians claim “this isn’t about the Second Amendment” they’re usually lying through their teeth, in this case Louisville officials may actually be taking a step that even most gun owners would call “common sense,” at least in theory.

Three Democrats on the Metro Council are proposing a local ordinance that would make the “unlawful” discharge of a firearm inside the city limits a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail. The ordinance, as introduced, specifically states that legally defending persons or property as well as shooting at “properly zoned” indoor ranges and outdoor locations that have been “permitted and inspected” by the city are not considered unlawful activities and would not be prohibited or regulated by the ordinance.

Instead, the council members say their goal is to cut down on the large number of shots fired into the air during holidays.

During the past New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, for example, Louisville’s 911 center received 325 calls for shots fired — 6% of all such calls received in 2021.

Metro Council members Bill Hollander, D-9th District; Pat Mulvihill, D-10th; and Nicole George, D-21st; said they intend on filing legislation to ban the “unlawful” discharge of firearms in the city, with certain exceptions, and make it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a maximum $500 fine.

The council members said they consulted with LMPD when crafting the ordinance, and the department showed its support of the legislation Thursday during a news conference at City Hall.

“No one should have to worry about stray bullets hitting their home, their car or their loved one. This is not a political issue,” Mulvihill said in a statement. “This is a common-sense issue. Adopting this ordinance to ban dangerous gunfire in Louisville will make a positive impact on everyone’s safety.”

Lt. Col. Joshua Judah said LMPD “supports the adoption of this ordinance because it’s needed.”

“Shooting guns indiscriminately in populated neighborhoods defies common sense, yet we deal with it every day,” Judah said. “This ordinance gives our officers a needed tool to address this unsafe behavior while providing safe avenues for responsible shooting in less populated areas.”

My only real issue with the ordinance as described would be the provisions for shooting on outdoor properties “permitted and inspected” by the city. I know this is a city that we’re talking about, and not the rural farmland where I live, but I’m sure that there are plenty of properties inside the city limits that have perfectly safe and acceptable spots for plinking , and the idea of only being able to shoot on your property once it’s been inspected and permitted by the city is a bridge too far for me.

And while that’s my biggest objection to the proposal, I don’t think the council members behind the idea should kid themselves or the public about how effective this is going to be in terms of stopping idiots from shooting into the air in residential neighborhoods to ring in the New Year or celebrate Independence Day. Unless police stumble upon someone banging away at the clouds or have video evidence clearly tying an individual to the crime, it’s going to be nearly impossible to make an arrest for violating the proposed ordinance, much less obtain a conviction.

In fact, I’d say if the city is serious about addressing the issue of idiots shooting into the air, one of the best things they could do would be to help make people a little smarter about gun handling by actively promoting safe and responsible gun ownership through both the Louisville PD and the city’s 2A community. In fact, this would actually be a great area of collaboration between 2A activists and community-based violence prevention (not gun control) groups as well; bringing real gun safety and training to underserved communities, while also pushing members of those communities to not simply accept unsafe and irresponsible gun handling by their friends or family, but to call it out when they see it.