March 13, 2019
A ten-year project in Kentucky finished this week with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signing Constitutional Carry into law. The culmination of years of work by the dozens of staff members and more than 50,000 National Association for Gun Rights members and supporters in Kentucky.
To the outside world, the passage of a Constitutional Carry bill may look easy. The record shows it not only passed with overwhelming majorities, but every attempt to water-down the bill failed. But the truth is, for most of the past few months our staff and our bill sponsors didn’t believe that we would get the bill passed this year.
The success we achieved in Kentucky this year is due entirely to our members. In the last few years the National Association for Gun Rights fought and passed Constitutional Carry in West Virginia, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho, Mississippi and Missouri. This year, we’ve achieved three great victories in South Dakota, Oklahoma and Kentucky. In every single case, victory was ensured through many years of hard work and the dedicated members and supporters who helped carry the bill over the finish line.
Kentucky is a perfect example. Before session began in December, we heard that the Kentucky Senate would refuse to hear the bill just as they did in 2017. Our sources at the Capitol confirmed that many “pro-gun” Senators were working behind the scenes to water-down any attempt at Constitutional Carry before the bill was introduced. Even worse, our sources all but guaranteed the bill would never make it through the Kentucky House.
Our sources weren’t lying. Various forms of Constitutional Carry had been introduced in Kentucky for more than a decade, and House leadership in both parties seemed determined to keep it that way. In fact, it had been years since any pro-gun bill even received a committee hearing in the Kentucky House. Clearly there were problems to work through.
Thankfully, the fight in the Kentucky Senate was a short one. Bipartisan support for the bill was overwhelming as elected officials and key members of Senate leadership ensured Constitutional Carry, carried by Senator Brandon Smith, would see a vote on the Senate floor. However, as contacts in the Governor’s office would confirm, the real fight to pass Constitutional Carry would be in the House.
In the House, the National Association for Gun Rights had very few people willing to stand up in support Constitutional Carry. The House version, carried by Representative Savannah Maddox, only had six sponsors out of the hundred members in the Kentucky House. Despite the bill passing 29-8 in the Senate, with less than a month left in session House Leadership sat on the bill for a whole week. At that moment, there was no way of knowing what would happen, all we could do was inform and mobilize our members and supporters.
In the two-week fight that ensued, the National Association for Gun Rights sent countless emails, put dozens of operators on phone calls, delivered tens of thousands of petitions to legislative offices, and mobilized hundreds of volunteers in the districts of key members of House Leadership and the Judiciary committee. We sent so many phone calls that our staff had trouble getting in touch with House members as their phones rang around the clock. Even in the final hours, when members of House Leadership put up amendments to kill Constitutional Carry, thousands of supporters who saw our Facebook posts, opened our emails or talked to our operators, stood with us to the very end and ensured every amendment was voted down and a clean Constitutional Carry bill was passed 60-37.
Later this week, the National Association for Gun Rights will be honored to receive a ceremonial copy of SB 150 signed by the Governor. A victory that belongs not only to our staff, not only to our donors who contributed the thousands of dollars this fight took, but also every supporter who stood with us and contacted their lawmakers throughout this important fight.
Along with Governor Bevin, Savannah Maddox, and Brandon Smith, the pro-gun activists are the people most deserving of this victory. The National Association for Gun Rights would not be celebrating today without their help.