Harlan County Attorney Fred Busroe told members of the Harlan County Fiscal Court in a recent meeting the Kentucky Legislature, in their last session, asked counties to formally repeal any local firearms control ordinances per KRS 65.870. He said the legislature said local county government can’t regulate firearms.
In KRS 65.870 it states, “No existing or future city, county, urban-county government, charter county, consolidated local government, unified local government, special district, local or regional public or quasi-public agency, board, commission, department, public corporation, or any person acting under the authority of any of these organizations may occupy any part of the field of regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, taxation, transfer, ownership, possession, carrying storage, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, components of ammunition, firearms accessories or combination thereof.”
“I researched and I could not find any ordinances active that actually regulate firearms,” said Busroe. “I’ve prosecuted for 14 years and have never prosecuted anyone for violating such an ordinance. I checked with the sheriff’s office and they’re not aware of any. So, I don’t think we have anything, but we may as well go ahead and have a motion in case there is something obscurely hidden and we’ve got it in our minutes we made a good faith effort to repeal any ordinance regulating firearms within the county’s jurisdiction.”
Busroe said the significance of this action is the county loses their “qualified immunity or ammunity if they allow such a law to be enacted and then people arrested under it or cited under it and prosecuted under it the county will be civilly liable for the damages as well as attorney fees and such.” A motion was made and approval was granted for this action.
A lease agreement between the county and the Kentucky Division of Forestry was also approved during the meeting.
“I really didn’t intend for the restoration of a fire tower to be included in this agreement,” said Grieshop. “I think viewing it as it is may be all that needs to be done. I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t feel particularly comfortable with people climbing up in a fire tower that was designed for employees at that time to be up in. There are just too many risks allowing public access. It can be quartered off with the public just viewing it as something used in time past. It’s a four feet by four feet box up in the air about 60 feet or more and it moves.This lease is a great partnership with the Division of Forestry and will help connect the state park and tie into Letcher County.”
Magistrate Jim Roddy questioned funds being spent on this project. Grieshop told him “money is being spent.”
“Right now we’ve spent money on saving some trees — approximately 200,” said Grieshop. “It takes $7 to save a tree and $300 to haul one out.”
The approval of this lease agreement will allow use of areas within the Kentenia State Forest for construction of a recreational trail and the restoration of Goss Park. The restoration of a fire tower was excluded from the agreement.
Tabled during the meeting was a proposed agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. It was to supply 10 pieces of used guardrail for Harlan County roads. It was tabled until officials are contacted about new charges included.
“When the agreement came it was with a charge,” said Grieshop. “They are reconditioning guardrail now. They straighten and re-coat the guardrail and it goes back out. It has changed the playing field from five or six years ago. That’s what we’re facing.”
Another sublease agreement was approved between the county and Sharing with Appalachian People (SWAP). The agreement is for forestry land which is leased to the county and subleased to SWAP.
“SWAP does work on your neighbors’ homes throughout the county and they have been up there for a good number of years and have served our community with their rehabilitation program. This is asking for a renewal. They re not asking for any money. We have not put any money into this. They do all the upkeep on the property and pay all the electricity bills.”
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