Lawmakers ask Beshear to distance administration from police commissioner's gun comments

02/12/2013 04:44 PM

More than 50 state lawmakers sent Gov. Steve Beshear a letter Tuesday asking him to clarify that Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer wasn’t speaking for the administration when he told Pure Politics he favors certain gun control measures.

Brewer said in the interview that he would support a ban on assault weapons and a national gun registry.

The 42 of the 44 House Republicans and 11 Democrats requested in a three-paragraph letter that Beshear “make it clear that Commissioner Brewer was not speaking on behalf of the entire executive branch” and to ask Brewer not to do it again. The lawmakers said Brewer “should not have made such comments while clearly acting in his official capacity.”

“While he is entitled to his own personal opinions, making such statements while in uniform blurs the line between the executive and legislative branches of Kentucky’s government,” the letter said. Click to read it: Letter to Governor on KSP.pdf

Brewer, though, also testified earlier this week in his uniform about his concerns with legislation that would set up a framework to regulate industrial hemp.

Beshear told Pure Politics on Friday that Brewer “brought up some legitimate issues” about guns.

Eleven Democrats, mostly from rural areas signed the letter: Reps. Johnny Bell of Glasgow; Robert Damron of Nicholasville; John Short of Hindman; Jim Gooch of Providence; Hubie Collins of Wittensville; Richard Henderson of Jeffersonville; Leslie Combs of Pikeville; Will Coursey of Benton; Fitz Steele of Hazard; W. Keith Hall of Phelps and Gerald Watkins of Paducah.

Two Republicans from urban areas did not sign: Reps. Robert Benvenuti of Lexington and Addia Wuchner of Florence.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • MikeTrip wrote on February 12, 2013 07:38 PM :

    Let me give the legislators a quick civics lesson. The State Police Commissioner is appointed by the Governor. He serves at the pleasure of the Governor. He could never say anything so blatantly unconstitutional and unpolular without the advance OK of the Governor. Otherwise he would be unemployed today. The Governor evidently wanted the Commissioner to make thes idiotic staements so the Gov could say how “interesting” these statements were. Anybody who believes that the Commissioneer acted without the express OK of the Gov, I have a used bridge I would like to sell them.

  • viewer wrote on February 13, 2013 08:09 AM :

    I thought Mr Brewer was 100percent correct with what he said. This letter is nothing but BS. He said nothing about taking our guns. These leaders that signed this should go out on patrol with the KSP , to see what they go through everyday. What some will do to act like they are doing something.

  • Hutch wrote on February 13, 2013 09:32 AM :

    That’s exactly why he is so opposed to comer’s bill = jealousy

  • Bruce Layne wrote on February 13, 2013 10:25 AM :

    It’s time for Commissar Brewer to go. It’s clear that he either does not understand the US Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution, or he understands and doesn’t agree with the principles embodied in these documents. Either way, he is unable to uphold the constitutional oath he swore as a prerequisite for his job.

    As Mike Trip mentioned, it’s likely that Governor Beshear put Brewer up to this as a way of advancing his political agenda without taking the political heat for being the anti-gun governor of a very pro-gun state. This is yet another reason that Kentucky should have elected Phil Moffett in 2011. We continue to pay the price for that missed opportunity.

  • Cat Balz wrote on February 13, 2013 11:40 AM :

    While he’s on a roll maybe Rodney Brewer can also issue forth on global warming, gay marriage, transfat, drone strikes, charter schools, tax policy, immigration reform, Taylor Swift etc etc etc. Remember, folks, we’re talking about a guy who says that our State Police can’t tell the difference between an industrial hemp field and cultivated marijuana. God only knows what a mess such a guy would make of a gun registry scheme. Rodney needs to put down the bong, pronto.

  • Rene Thompson wrote on February 13, 2013 07:01 PM :

    For those who claim that an assault weapons ban or universal background checks are un-Constitutional, may I point to the legal opinion of one Antonin Scalia, the most conservative justice on the Supreme court today. In the Heller case, Justice Scalia stated this:

    “Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment , nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

    We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.” It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

    There may be those who don’t like the ideas, but let’s make it clear – even the staunchest conservative on the bench today has already stated for the record that these concepts do not violate the 2nd Amendment nor are the un-constitutional.

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