Gov. Matt Bevin just signed into law a bill that allows eligible Kentuckians to conceal a gun without a permit. And without training.
Does the law change much?
On the surface, not really. Kentucky was already an "open carry state." That is, you can walk down the street with a gun in open sight, should you feel the need.
Now you can put your handgun in your pocket, out of sight, and walk down the street.
But here's the difference that concerns us a bit: Before, if you were going to conceal a handgun, you had to have a CCW permit. And that permit is more than a simple piece of paper. It is proof that you've gone through classes with a skilled instructor and know how to responsibly carry a firearm.
There are several knowledgeable CCW trainers here in Pulaski County -- some of them who are former law enforcement. Many of these folks believe most Kentuckians who aim to carry a gun will still opt for training. Others believe the number of gun owners who will actually get training will drop by about 30 percent or more.
For many Pulaski Countians, handling firearms is like second nature. They've grown up with them and they've been taught from a very early age how to handle a gun responsibly.
And that's all fine and good.
But obtaining a permit wouldn't necessarily be a redundancy for these gun owners, because CCW training is more than just target practice.
"I think the training is a very important part of knowing what the law is and what your responsibilities under the law are," said Kentucky CCW permit holder Jeff Graff. "Because you are immersed in the law, because you've got about six hours or so of class time that goes over the law and what your responsibilities under the law are."
Graff worries that without the required training, someone could unintentionally break the law.
And if you decide you're going to arm yourself, you have to remember that you're responsible for whatever happens with that firearm.
Another advantage to having a permit, according to firearms instructor Jeff Chastain, is that you can go into most gun stores, flash your CCW badge and purchase a firearm without having to go through another phoned-in background check and waiting period.
Many people huff about the government making people jump through hoops with regulations and laws. Well now, there is no law in Kentucky that states you have to be competent at handling a gun before you tuck one into your pants and head to the grocery store.
We would certainly encourage gun owners, despite the freedom the new law allows, to take CCW training and really learn about how to responsibly carry a weapon. It would likely make things a lot more safe for you, and the people around you.
THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Michael McCleery, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Mark Walker, Circulation Director; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; and Chris Harris, Staff Writer.