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Kentucky gun laws on safe storage questioned after Virginia shooting

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Posted at 7:59 PM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 20:01:52-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Questions are being raised about gun safety laws in Kentucky after a six-year-old in Virginia shot his teacher with a parent's gun.

The child reportedly brought the weapon to school in his backpack.

Eleven-year-old Heavenleigh is like many other kids her age. She likes school, hanging out with her friends and family, and having fun. But gun violence has altered her once innocent view of life.

Most recently, learning that a six-year-old shot his teacher.

"It's crazy. I wouldn't really think that a six-year-old would be that mad at his teacher," said Heavenleigh.

She started rapping when she was four years old and goes by the stage name "Star Bookie."

Record levels of gun violence, child injuries, and death have influenced her to include messages against gun violence in her music.

"Kids are kids and like, you can still talk about something that's important to the community," she said.

Too many guns in their community is a topic that kids across Kentucky said they felt threatened by in their community in the 2022 Kentucky Kids Count County Data Book.

Court data from 2015 to 2022 also shows the number of young people in the court system for illegally having a gun in Kentucky increased by 23.9%.

Kentucky has similar laws as Virginia when it comes to locking guns. There's no law that requires unattended guns to be stored in a particular way or locked up. There's also no law holding people who do that criminally liable if minors do gain access.

Aaron McGahee is a military weapons instructor and Combat Veteran who founded Rhinox Research Group to share his education with the gun-owning public.

McGahee hosts trainings for every level at his business on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard in Louisville.

He feels what happened in Virginia shows proper gun safety is not being talked about enough.

"Safe storage is a huge component of keeping guns off the street," said McGahee.

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He says every purchased gun comes with a gun lock that owners can use to make sure their guns can't be used. There are also lock boxes and additional safety measures people can put in place.

"How do we convince, because it's not the law. We can't say do this or you'll go to jail. Folks like me have to convince gun owners to be responsible and come and get the training and education," said McGahee.

The years 2020 and 2021 saw exponential growth in gun ownership. McGahee says the training has not kept up with that increase.

"We already own the guns. We just have to be responsible," he said.

It's a personal decision in Kentucky whether to properly secure a gun from children and criminals or not. McGahee believes doing so and having proper training can end negligence.

"Responsible gun ownership is something that's not going to knock on your door. I will continue to push. I will continue to market and advertise but ultimately it is a personal decision to become a responsible gun owner and what it does is it helps improve the quality of life in our community, of our cities, of our state, and of our country," said McGahee.