Five people were killed and nine others were injured after a 25-year-old man opened fire at Old National Bank in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, April 10.
In a press conference the following day, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said that under Kentucky law the rifle used in the mass shooting “will one day be auctioned off.”
“That murder weapon will be back on the streets one day under Kentucky’s current law,” he said.
Does Kentucky law require guns used in crimes like mass shootings to be sold at auction?
Yes, Kentucky law requires guns used in crimes like mass shootings to be sold at auction.
WHAT WE FOUND
Under Kentucky state law, all guns and ammunition “confiscated by a state or local law enforcement agency” and not kept for “official use” – including those used in crimes – are required to be transferred to Kentucky State Police (KSP).
KSP then sells those guns to federally licensed firearms dealers at public auctions.
The agency keeps 20% of the sale proceeds from an auction for departmental use, according to state law. The remaining proceeds are given to the state Office of Homeland Security.
Before any gun is sold, state law requires law enforcement to “make a bona fide attempt” to determine if the weapon was “stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained from an innocent owner.” In that case, the gun would be returned to its original owner unless they are not eligible to purchase one under federal law.
Capt. Paul Blanton, public affairs commander for KSP, did not answer specific questions about whether the rifle in the Old National Bank shooting will be sold at auction. But he told VERIFY that the agency is “required to comply with state laws as they are passed.”
In February 2023, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg announced a new plan for confiscated guns aimed at preventing them from being used in violent crimes again.
The mayor sent a legal memorandum to Gwinn-Villaroel directing LMPD to remove firing pins from all guns the department seizes before turning them over to KSP, effectively rendering them inoperative. But the removed firing pin will still remain paired with the weapon when it’s sent to KSP.
In the memo sent to LMPD, Greenberg said that “after the transfer it will be possible to re-insert the firing pin into its corresponding firearm at the option of the recipient,” WHAS reported.
Prior to the transfer to KSP, a warning sticker will also be attached to the gun explaining that it may have been used to commit a homicide, including the killing of a child, according to a press release from the City of Louisville.
Kentucky is not the only state where guns used in crimes are sold back to the public.
For example, Washington state law also allows law enforcement agencies to sell, destroy or trade guns confiscated in criminal investigations. An investigation conducted by the Associated Press found the guns that police sold were later used in new crimes, according to a November 2018 report from the news outlet.