See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Kentucky law, like federal law, prohibits any person from knowingly manufacturing, selling, delivering, transferring, or importing armor-piercing ammunition, defined as a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium, with exceptions for certain sporting shot and industrial materials. This prohibition does not apply to members of the U.S. Armed Forces or law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties, and does not prohibit licensed gun dealers from possessing the ammunition for the purpose of receiving and transferring it to these exempt individuals.
Kentucky law also prohibits a person from being armed with a firearm loaded with armor-piercing ammunition or flanged ammunition during the commission of a felony, or in flight immediately thereafter. Flanged ammunition is defined as ammunition with a soft lead core and sharp flanges that are designed to expand upon impact.
Kentucky law does not:
- Require a license for the sale of ammunition;
- Require sellers of ammunition to maintain a record of the purchasers; or
- Prohibit persons who are ineligible to possess firearms under state law from possessing ammunition, although the federal ammunition purchaser prohibitions apply.
Kentucky has no laws regulating assault weapons.
See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
Kentucky is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Kentucky has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm. As a result, in Kentucky firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.
Kentucky does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
In Kentucky, concealed weapons permit holders whose permits were issued on or after July 12, 2006, qualify as exempt from background checks for five years when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination for a given state is subject to change without notice.
Kentucky does not impose criminal liability for negligent storage of a firearm, even if a child gains access to the firearm and causes an injury or death. Kentucky prohibits any person from intentionally, knowingly or recklessly providing a handgun to a person under age 18 or permitting a person under age 18 to possess a handgun, except in the limited situations where it is legal for the person under 18 to possess a handgun.
In addition, the state prohibits any parent or guardian of a juvenile from intentionally, knowingly or recklessly providing to the juvenile a handgun or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun if the parent or guardian:
- Knows that there is a substantial risk that the juvenile will use a handgun to commit a felony offense;
- Knows that the juvenile has been convicted of a crime of violence; or
- Knows the juvenile has been adjudicated a public offender of an offense which would constitute a crime of violence.
See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Kentucky does not prohibit a person from carrying a concealed deadly weapon in public if the person has a license. Kentucky is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the Kentucky Department of State Police (“DSP”) must issue a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon if the applicant meets certain qualifications. An applicant for a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon must:
- Be a United States citizen or a person lawfully admitted to the United States;
- Be 21 years of age or older;
- Be eligible to possess a firearm under state and federal law;
- Not have been committed to a facility for abuse of a controlled substance or been convicted of a misdemeanor related to controlled substances, within the previous three years;
- Not have been convicted two or more times of driving under the influence or involuntarily committed to a hospital for treatment as an alcoholic, within the previous three years;
- Not owe a child support arrearage equaling or exceeding one year of nonpayment, if DSP have been notified of the arrearage by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services;
- Have complied with any subpoena or warrant relating to child support or paternity proceedings, unless the Cabinet for Health and Family Services does not notify DSP of the proceedings; and
- Not have been convicted of assault or “terroristic threatening” within the preceding three years, unless DSP has waived this requirement based on good cause and a determination that the applicant is not a danger.
Firearm Safety Training
Kentucky law requires that an applicant demonstrate “competence with a firearm by successful completion of a firearms safety or training course that is conducted by a firearms instructor who is certified by a national organization that certifies firearms instructors and includes the use of written tests, in person instruction, and a component of live-fire training, or a firearms safety course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training.” The course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training must be no more than eight hours in length, and include instruction on the safe use of handguns, the care and cleaning of handguns, and handgun marksmanship principles. The course must include actual range firing of a handgun in a safe manner, and the firing of not more than 20 rounds at a full-size silhouette target, during which firing, not less than 11 rounds must hit the silhouette portion of the target. The course must also include information on and a copy of Kentucky laws relating to possession and carrying of firearms, and the Kentucky laws relating to the use of force. The applicant must also demonstrate knowledge of the law regarding the justifiable use of force by including with the application a copy of the concealed carry deadly weapons legal handout made available by the Department of Criminal Justice Training and a signed statement that indicates that applicant has read and understands the handout.
Duration & Renewal
Kentucky licenses to carry concealed deadly weapons are valid for five years from the date of issuance. Kentucky law prevents a license from being renewed without a background check, including a NICS check, and a determination that the applicant is eligible for the license. Kentucky law also prevents a license from being renewed more than six months after its expiration date; at that time the license is deemed permanently expired and the licensee must reapply for licensure.
Disclosure or Use of Information
Kentucky law requires DSP to maintain an automated listing of persons with licenses to carry concealed deadly weapons and other pertinent information. The database must be available at all times online to all law enforcement agencies who request information relating to a named licensee. However, DSP must deny a request for the entire list of licensees or for all licensees in a geographic area. Information relating to license applicants and holders must otherwise remain confidential.
Kentucky law allows a person who has a valid license to carry a concealed deadly weapon from another state to carry a concealed deadly weapon in Kentucky. In addition, Kentucky law requires DSP to enter into written reciprocity agreements with other states so that Kentucky license holders may carry concealed deadly weapons in the other state either on the basis of a Kentucky-issued concealed deadly weapon license, or because the other state will issue its own license to carry concealed deadly weapons based upon a Kentucky concealed deadly weapon license.
See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent the ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.
Kentucky has no law requiring firearms dealers to obtain a state license or permit. Kentucky also has no law requiring dealers to conduct a background check on prospective firearm purchasers, although the federal background check requirement applies. The only substantive state law restriction Kentucky places on firearm dealers is its prohibition on knowingly transferring a firearm to a convicted felon.
For information about Kentucky law:
Kentucky imposes no design safety standards on handguns.
See our Design Safety Standards for Handguns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Kentucky law states that any firearm illegally transferred to a convicted felon is subject to forfeiture. Kentucky has no other law requiring the removal of firearms from persons who have become prohibited from possessing them.
Kentucky law does not:
- Prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms or ammunition (unlike federal law);
- Prohibit individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms or ammunition (unlike federal law);
- Require courts to notify domestic abusers when they become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law;
- Require the surrender of firearms or ammunition by domestic abusers who have become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law; or
- Explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.
Kentucky law only includes the following provisions relating to domestic violence and firearms:
- The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet must make a reasonable effort to provide notice to a person who obtained a domestic violence protective order if the person subject to the order has attempted to purchase a firearm. This requirement only applies if the person who sought the protective order requests such notification.
- A court or agency making a decision regarding pretrial release of a person who is arrested for assault or certain sexual violations or who has been charged with a violation of a domestic violence protective order may impose, as a condition or pretrial release, an order prohibiting the person from using or possessing a firearm.
- Kentucky provides for the suspension of a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon if the licensee is subject to a domestic violence order or emergency protective order.
Finally, Kentucky law explicitly provides that a restraining order triggered by a conviction for, or guilty plea to, stalking does not “operate as a ban on the purchase or possession of firearms or ammunition by the defendant.”
See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Kentucky has no laws regulating fifty caliber rifles.
See our Fifty Caliber Rifles policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.