FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky's local governments cannot prevent their employees from carrying weapons “at all times and places” while on duty, according to a state attorney general's opinion released Monday.
In reaching that conclusion, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office tied together various sections of Kentucky law governing the authority of local governments to regulate firearms.
Any such local authority is strictly limited, the attorney general's office said in its review requested by the city of Ashland. State law allows local governments to prohibit concealed weapons in buildings they own, lease or control, the opinion said.
However, they cannot bar their employees from openly carrying firearms inside local government-owned buildings or possessing weapons — whether concealed or not — on public property that is not a building, including public parks, the opinion said. They also can't be prevented from possessing firearms in their personal or local government-owned vehicles, it added.
“Synthesizing these statutory provisions, it is the attorney general’s opinion that the city may not prohibit its employees from carrying firearms ‘at all times and places’ while on duty as a city employee,” the five-page opinion said.
The opinion — written by Assistant Attorney General Aaron J. Silletto and signed by Cameron — does not carry the force of law. It reflected the gun-rights policies passed by the state's legislature.
The review was requested by the Ashland city attorney in northeastern Kentucky. Several city employees petitioned the city manager for permission to carry firearms while on duty.
In its response, the attorney general's office said the legislature enacted several statutes governing the authority of local governments to regulate firearms. The opinion said that as a “general proposition," lawmakers have “preempted the field of firearms regulation” in the state.
State law, however, allows a local governing body to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons in a building owned, leased or controlled by that local government, the opinion said. That restriction can apply to its employees.
“But the city may do so only ‘by ordinance,’ and not simply (as the city suggests in the first question it asks) as part of its employee policies and procedures,” the opinion said.
But that’s the extent of a local government’s power on the matter, the opinion said. State law doesn't allow a local government to prohibit or limit the open carrying of weapons, it said.
“The city may not prohibit its employees from: (a) open carrying firearms inside city-owned buildings; (b) possessing or carrying any firearms, whether concealed or carried openly, on public property that is not a ‘building’; (c) possessing, carrying or keeping firearms in their personal vehicles; or (d) possessing or carrying any firearms in city-owned vehicles,” the opinion said.