Poll shows GOP voters in Kentucky support gun safety measure, Westerfield assures Senate

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

FRANKFORT — In what he said could be his last speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Whitney Westerfield assured his colleagues that “the politics … are safe” to support a law that would temporarily remove firearms from Kentuckians at risk of harming themselves or others. 

Speaking on Friday night, Westerfield cited polling that found 76% of Republican primary voters “think Kentucky lawmakers should work to prevent gun violence, including working to keep Kentuckians going through a mental health crisis from harming themselves or others.” 

UpONE Insights surveyed 600 Kentucky Republican primary voters by phone in January. 

Westerfield unsuccessfully sponsored a bill in this session —  Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention or CARR — that would have created a legal process for temporarily disarming someone who is at risk of harming themselves or others.

The polling found that 72% of GOP primary voters support creating such a process. That number dips to 67% among “very conservative” voters and 66% among Trump supporters. Among those who identified themselves as Nation Rifle Association (NRA) supporters, support for CARR in Kentucky was at 71%, according to the UpONE survey. 

Westerfield said that under his bill it would have been “ harder to have guns removed … then it is to be involuntarily committed … to have your entire person detained against your will in a mental health facility,” 

His CARR bill said: 

  • Law enforcement cannot enter a person’s home “or interior premises” to gather their guns unless that person needs and requests assistance in doing so. 
  • Police must give a receipt to the respondent detailing what guns were taken. 
  • While the CARR order is in effect, the respondent cannot possess or buy guns. 
  • The court must tell the respondent that they are not being charged with a crime and that they have the right to rebuttal. 

Westerfield is not running for reelection, but he encouraged senators to look at the policy in the future and work on solutions to the “crisis of gun violence” in the state. Monday is the final day of this year’s regular session.

“If the policy can’t appeal to you, perhaps the polling can,” he said Friday. “The politics of this are safe.”

The nonprofit Whitney Strong, which advocates for gun law reform, released the poll results Friday.

January poll of Kentucky Republican primary voters

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