Kentucky's Concealed/Carry
Handgun Law Passes First Tes
Michael Collins and Peggy Kreimer
Kentucky Post Staff Reporters
FRANKFORT - A man who pulled a gun out of his pocket and shot a would-be robber in Covington's Devou Park early Thursday morning showed that Kentucky's concealed-carry law is doing what it's supposed to do, said the statute's chief proponent.
''That's what the law was intended to do: Let a legal citizen protect himself,'' said state Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville.
More than 51,000 Kentuckians have obtained permits to carry hidden weapons in the three years since the state's concealed-carry law took effect.
More permits may be issued after the Devou Park shooting, Kenton County Sheriff Charles Korzenborn predicted. He expects the public to view it as an example of the protection that carrying your own gun provides. Already, 160 people have applied in the county for permits this year.
''People have not only a right but a responsibility to take care of themselves,'' said Korzenborn, who administers the permits in Kenton County.
''If you rely on the police to do everything, you would need one policeman for every person.''
Retired Cinergy worker Joe Megerle, 57, of Covington, was walking in Devou Park when a man approached him, drew a pistol and demanded money. Megerle pulled out his .25-caliber pistol and shot Jamie Kennedy, 27, of Covington, in the chest and head. Kennedy is in serious condition at University Hospital in Cincinnati.
Kennedy is charged with attempted robbery, and a charge of attempted murder might be added to that, Covington Assistant Police Chief Bill Dorsey said. A man and a woman who were in the car with him have been questioned but no charges have been filed against either.
No evidence turned up in a police search of a room at the Days Inn in Fort Wright, Dorsey said. The search was connected to the shooting, police have said.
Police say Kennedy's pistol was not loaded, but that doesn't affect the seriousness of his actions, Dorsey said. Megerle believed his life was in danger, and he acted correctly when he shot to save his life, Dorsey said. Megerle has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
''In that situation, it was the right thing to do,'' Dorsey said.
Megerle's father, also named Joe, was Covington's assistant police chief when he retired about 1970.
Dorsey said the Devou Park confrontation is believed to be the first time someone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon used the weapon in Northern Kentucky since the state law was passed in 1996.
But it wasn't the first such self-defense shooting statewide. Damron, who pushed the concealed-carry law through the General Assembly, said several similar instances have been recorded across the state.
In Bowling Green, a woman who had just gotten a concealed-weapon permit and completed the required firearms-safety course shot a man who broke into her house. The woman later said she would have been unable to defend herself had she not taken the gun-safety course, Damron said.
Critics argued that enacting the law could lead to an increase in violence and vigilantism. But Damron said he wasn't aware of any case in which charges have been filed against a concealed-carry permit holder.
The 51,482 people who have permits to carry concealed weapons have acted responsibly, Damron said.
''I'd match those people's criminal record against any other group in the state,'' he said. ''They are showing that you can trust law-abiding citizens who actually own and keep firearms.''
Dorsey agreed, even though at the time the law was being considered police had reservations about it, fearing it would prompt a rash of irresponsible gun use.
''I follow this. I've been waiting for the first one,'' Dorsey said. ''This is it, and this man did the right thing.''
But state Rep. Jim Callahan, a Wilder Democrat who opposes the concealed-carry law, said Thursday's shooting illustrates the danger of giving people greater access to guns.
''My district is a heavily urbanized area. The last thing we need is more guns in the hands of people who are out on the streets,'' said Callahan, who voted against the law three years ago. ''I still have concerns.''
Callahan said he understood that people have a right to protect themselves. But he said he feared that putting more guns on the streets would lead to more shootings.