Kentucky has relatively weak laws to disarm hate that allow people to keep and access firearms, including assault weapons, after they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Kentucky
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Some access||Significant access||Some access|
|State Law||Very limited or no access||Some access||Significant access||Some access|
Kentucky law authorizes judges and parole boards to consider hate crime motivation as a factor in determining whether to deny probation or require jail time for certain crimes, but this law does reclassify the severity of hate crimes or otherwise authorize extended prison sentences.1Kentucky does not specifically prohibit people convicted of hate crimes from accessing firearms.
Kentucky does, like federal law,2 generally prohibit people from accessing firearms if they have been convicted of a felony.3 However, Kentucky does not prohibit people convicted of violent misdemeanors from accessing firearms for any period of time, and also does not make misdemeanors punishable by a term long enough to trigger federal firearm restrictions.4
As a result, people convicted of violent hate crimes are only prohibited from accessing firearms in Kentucky, under state and federal law, if they are convicted of felonies. Kentucky generally classifies violent crimes as felonies if they involve intentional infliction of serious physical injury, physical injury with a deadly weapon,5 or “terroristic threats” to perpetrate violence at a public event, school function, or place of worship.6
However, people convicted of violent hate-motivated misdemeanors remain eligible to access firearms in Kentucky, under both state and federal law, including crimes involving intentional infliction of physical injury,7 use of force to intimidate,8 stalking with threats of violence,9 and most other credible threats of violence.10
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- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 532.031. This statute does not include a victim’s disability, ethnicity, gender or gender identity as protected categories.
- Federal law generally prohibits people from accessing guns if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years. 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 921(a)(20)(B).
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 527.040(2). Felonies are crimes punishable by one or more years in prison. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 532.020.
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 532.020.
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.020 (felony “Assault in the second degree”); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.010 (felony “Assault in the first degree”).
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.078 (felony “Terroristic threatening in the second degree”).
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.030 (misdemeanor “Assault in the fourth degree”).
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.070(1)(a) (misdemeanor “Harassment”).
- Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.150.
- See, e.g., misdemeanor “Terroristic threatening in the third degree,” Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.080; “Menacing,” Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.050; “Harassment,” Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 525.070(1)(b).