It’s time to hold pro-gun Republicans accountable: Kentucky can lead the way, right now

With the world watching our city grieve yet another mass-murder-by-gun, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg stood behind a podium on Tuesday and pleaded with the Republican-dominated Kentucky state legislature, urging it to change the pro-gun laws it just passed, and to give the city it has consistently undermined more local autonomy and the freedom to “make its own decisions about reducing the amount of illegal guns on our streets, and gun violence that is killing far too many people.” 

“Doing nothing,” Greenberg said,’ is not a strategy.”

“That murder weapon will be back on the streets in days under Kentucky’s current law.” 

That’s not an exaggeration. City officials can remove the firing pin from a confiscated weapon — the legal limit of dismantling — before handing it over to the Kentucky State Police, as required by law, to be sold back to gun dealers.

“It’s time to change this law,” Greenberg said, “and let us destroy illegal guns and the guns that have been used to kill our friends and kill our neighbors.” 

Then he ducked, on the most important single question of the day: Asked whether he would call on Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat who was elected by a razor-thin margin in this largely red state, to convene a special session of the legislature to address gun violence, Greenberg flinched.

He wasn’t issuing such a call “at this time,” the mayor answered. “I want to have conversations. I want to work on a plan, and I want to work on getting that implemented as fast as possible. And we can figure out those details later.” 

One has to wonder whether Greenberg actually heard his own words: Doing nothing is not a strategy. He isn’t entirely powerless here. He has the bully pulpit of elected office, and he has the nation’s attention, at least for another day or two.

He should seize that moment and do something. Calling on Beshear to step up costs nothing but courage. The fact that it might not work, and that it will inevitably be seen through the lens of partisan politics, is no defense. 

Greenberg has called on God. At least calling on the governor involves speaking to someone who might be listening. Challenge Beshear to fulfill his oath under the state constitution and summon the Kentucky General Assembly into session.

If Beshear won’t do that, let him be the one to tell the bereaved and traumatized people of Louisville that a special session is not politically expedient and that there’s no pointin even trying, since lawmakers in Frankfort lawmakers are so indebted to their gun-owning voters and the NRA. Let Beshear, who allowed a bill to pass into law that punishes Louisville police for enforcing federal gun regulations, tell our city that he can do nothing to protect it.

Beshear has an opportunity, right now, to make Kentucky’s GOP supermajority, and their pro-NRA Democratic accomplices, stand in the national spotlight and face what they have created. Among their number he might find more Republicans than you’d expect who are ready to take action with their Democratic peers and seek to control this bloodshed.

There have been 29 mass shootings in Kentucky since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking deaths in 2014. One hundred and eighty-three of our state’s kids have been killed with guns during that time; 45 of them were under age 12.

Calling on Beshear to hold a special session is just about the least our city’s mayor could do. In fact, he could do a good deal more than that. 

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

On April 3, the Kentucky State Police received $59,731 from its closed, one-bid online auction of about 250 confiscated guns. KSP made its March collection of 320 serial-numbered guns available online, an inventory that included roughly 20 semiautomatic rifles similar to AR-15s. Proceeds of these gun sales, KSP says, “have been instrumental in equipping Kentucky law enforcement personnel with personal body armor and other equipment.”

On April 4, a day after 250 more guns were put back on gun dealer’s shelves, future mass shooter Connor Sturgeon walked into a Louisville gun shop in Louisville and bought the AR-15 he would use to kill a police officer. 

So here’s what Mayor Greenberg can do: He can publish the serial number on the AR-15 used by this week’s shooter. He can publish the serial numbers of all AR-15s used to kill Kentuckians, so we can find out how many of them were sold in KSP auctions. He can reveal how much money Louisville police have received from KSP gun sales, and how much it has spent treating officers’ gunshot wounds and paying for funerals. 

Greenberg has no power to destroy the weapon that was used to murder people in his own city. But he could buy it at auction, lay it in an open box like a corpse in a coffin, and open-carry it to the state Capitol in Frankfort. He could deliver it personally, as a gift, to those who claim that he wants to take away their guns and their liberty. He could present them with the totemic object they evidently treasure more than they treasure a human life. He could place it in front of the Senate president’s dais or the House speaker’s chair. In other words, Mr. Mayor: Rush the well

Read more

about America’s epidemic of gun violence


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar