Kentuckians for and against gun control set to publicly debate

Kentuckians for and against gun control set to publicly debate
Barry Laws has been selling guns in Oldham County for 12 years. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Barry Laws has been selling guns in Oldham County for 12 years. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Hollon Holm was shot in the head by a classmate during a school shooting in Kentucky in 1997. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Hollon Holm was shot in the head by a classmate during a school shooting in Kentucky in 1997. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After mass shootings like the most recent in Florida, the national conversation turns to gun control.

Both sides of the gun debate want to find a solution on mass shootings, but they have a difference in opinion on where to start.

In Kentucky, a gun shop owner is passionate about the second amendment, and a school shooting survivor is passionate about preventing future mass shootings.

"We are the ones who teach people the correct way to shoot a firearm and how to store them safely in their house," Barry Laws said.

For 12 years Barry Laws has sold guns in Oldham County. He describes the AR-15 as a target rifle. The gun is a semi-automatic rifle that fires one round when the trigger is pulled. It is not an automatic rifle, which will continuously fire until you remove your finger from the trigger.

Anyone over the age of 18 can purchase an AR-15 in Kentucky. A background check is done, but you don't necessarily have to know how to use the gun to buy it.

"Some people ask, 'Who needs something that shoots that much?,'" Laws said. "Well one is for self-defense, another is for fun, and the third is for competition."

He believes there should be more focus on the people who pull the trigger and why.

For others who have lived through mass shootings, they want to keep the focus on legislation.

"We need action and if you continue to ignore our voices then it is time for you to retire," Hollon Holm said.

In 1997, Holm was a freshman at Heath High School in Western Kentucky. A classmate opened fire and he was shot in the head.

"I almost relive it every time this happens," Holm told us.

He wants to stop legislation that would allow guns on campuses and primary schools. Holm believes that would prevent future mass shootings.

"My heart breaks for them," Holm said.

Laws is also tired of the mass shootings -- but he doesn't think guns are the issue.

"I think it is the wrong conversation to be talking about guns," he said. "I think the conversation should be -- 'Why have we allowed our society to let these people fall through the cracks?'"

On Sunday, Feb. 18,  Laws will participate in a public debate about guns. The event will be held at the Springdale Presbyterian Church in Louisville (7812 Brownsboro Road). It's open to the public and starts at 6:30 p.m.

The church told us they hope to have a civil conversation and Q and A about America's gun rights, gun laws and the role we play. The panelists are Connie Coartney, who represents MOMS Demand Answers for Gun Sense; Dean Walker, whose daughter was killed while attending a concert at a Portland neighborhood art gallery; and Barry Laws, who operates Open Range Sports gun store and range.

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