Three different approaches to the gun debate from three Kentucky officials

01/14/2013 10:18 AM

As Vice President Joe Biden prepares to recommend steps toward gun safety this week, the ranks of Kentucky officials seem to be as split as national figures.

Take, for example, three separate interviews Pure Politics conducted on the gun issue last week on the issue:

The get-assault-weapons-off-the-streets approach

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was among 16 state and local officials to participate in a conference call with Biden on Wednesday.

Fischer said he and the other mayors were keenly interested in getting illegal guns off their streets and were largely supportive of measures to ban military assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. Fischer essentially echoes the approach U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, has taken. Here’s what Fischer said:

The taking-guns-away-is-not-the-answer approach

New laws wouldn’t necessarily prevent situations like the mass shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., said Republican U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green.

Guthrie, in an interview Tuesday on Pure Politics, said he doesn’t support an assault weapons ban. Instead, he said officials need to focus on how to best handle mental illness.

“There are people who aren’t allowed to have guns in the United States and we just need to make sure that is working correctly before we put new burdens on law abiding citizens,” he said (at 1:35).

Likewise, Guthrie said it would be difficult for Congress to tighten restrictions on video games, which also have come under criticism in light of the Newtown shooting.

“The violence in video games and in movies, does Congress have the right to regulate movies and say you can’t have violence in movies? That gets into the First Amendment” (at 2:30).

(Guthrie also addressed controversies with the agency tasked with regulating guns — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which hasn’t had a full-time director in six years. “I do believe there is a role for the ATF. They have labs, they have experts and an expert forensics person going on a crime scene wasn’t the person making decisions to send guns overseas,” Guthrie said at 3:30 of the interview.)

The non-committal approach

Others, are taking a much more cautious approach to the debate — either being open minded or not wanting to anger proponents of either of the above argument.

Count Gov. Steve Beshear among those. He sent a letter to Biden late last week in which he said states need more resources for school safety officers and mental health. But he only mentioned guns in passing in the letter.

Likewise, new U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, a Lexington Republican, said he wants to hear what Biden proposes before digging in his heels.

“We should not jump into this quickly. We should deliberate,” Barr said.

- Pure Politics reporter Nick Storm and producer Jacqueline Pitts contributed to this report.

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 ryan.alessi@twcnews.com.

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