Louisville’s mayor and congressman and the physician treating victims of a mass shooting pleaded Tuesday for action on gun violence.
The day after a gunman killed five people in a downtown bank, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg called on state lawmakers to let the city make its own policy choices about reducing gun violence.
Kentucky law prohibits local governments from enacting regulations on guns or ammunition.
The mayor said that if lawmakers truly care about police like Officer Nickolas Wilt, who was in critical condition at a Louisville hospital after taking an AR-15 bullet to his head, or Officer Cory Galloway, the officer who shot the gunman, they should allow the city to deal with “our unique gun violence epidemic.”
“Let us, the people of Louisville, make our own choices about how we reduce gun violence in our city,” Greenberg said. “Other communities should be able to make the policies that work for them. Let us implement policies that work for us.”
The mayor added that illegal guns and gun violence in the city is “killing far too many people in mass shootings and individual shootings, in any shooting.” After Monday’s shooting, 40 people have died in Louisville this year from gunshots, he said.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that collects data on American mass shootings, the Louisville shooting was the nation’s 146th mass shooting of 2023 and its 14th mass murder.
Greenberg called for “short-term action” to prevent further tragedies.
“Let me be clear, I don’t care about finger pointing. I don’t care about blame. I don’t care about politics,” the mayor said. “I’m only interested in working together with our state legislators to take meaningful action to save lives, to prevent more tragic injuries and more death. Arguing is not a strategy. Doing nothing is not a strategy. It’s not a solution.”
He noted that many may not think something like this could happen to them until it does. Last year, Greenberg survived a workplace shooting. On Tuesday, he said he knew Deana Eckert, one of the five victims from Monday.
“It has happened in Louisville. It could happen in Paducah, in Pikeville, or in Covington. This is happening in America everywhere and will keep happening until we say enough and take meaningful action.”
Greenberg said Kentucky’s current law allows the murder weapon to be sold again in an auction. In February, his administration directed LMPD to remove firing pins from seized weapons bound for auction.
During a Tuesday morning press conference, the mayor was joined by Democratic Congressman Morgan McGarvey, who said he had spoken with federal and state officials about sending federal resources to Louisville, such as additional counseling services. “We need to take this grief and turn it into action,” McGarvey said.
Last week, McGarvey had called members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus together for a special order hour on increased gun violence in America’s communities. In special orders, congress members can make speeches about different topics.
McGarvey said that he worked with conservative colleagues while in the Kentucky legislature to introduce crisis aversion rights retention laws.
“Please, if you are a person of faith, and you want to give us your thoughts and your prayers, we want them and we need them,” McGarvey said. “Our community is hurting – but we need policies in place that will keep this from happening again, so the thoughts and prayers do not have to be offered to yet another community ripped apart by the savage violence coming from guns.”
University of Louisville Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith told reporters Tuesday that he’s worked at the university hospital for 15 years treating people with gunshot wounds.
“There’s only so many times you can walk into a room and tell someone they’re not coming home tomorrow and it just breaks your heart,” Smith said. “When you hear someone screaming, ‘Mommy,’ or ‘Daddy,’ it just becomes too hard day in and day out to be able to do that.”
While he is a doctor and doesn’t work in policy, Smith asked federal and state lawmakers to “do something because doing nothing, which is what we’ve been doing, is not working.”
“We have to do something because this is just getting out of hand across our city and across this great nation of ours,” he continued.
In response to a reporter’s question, Greenberg said he was not calling for a special session of Kentucky’s General Assembly but rather wanted to work on a plan that could be implemented quickly.
Rep. Daniel Grossberg (D-Louisville) said in a Monday tweet that he would favor a special session for “commonsense gun reform.”
Kentucky House Democratic Caucus Leaders Reps. Derrick Graham, Cherlynn Stevenson, and Rachel Roberts called for more legislative action in a Monday statement, saying “we should not have to live like this – living in fear and in a time where legislative inaction regarding gun violence has become the law of the land. We must demand more.”
Louisville’s Democratic delegation in the General Assembly said in a Monday statement that the city “experienced a devastating loss of life to senseless gun violence” but “we cannot allow it to become normalized.” The delegation vowed to bring communities together in the coming weeks and months to discuss “commonsense policies that would save lives.”
“As legislators, we owe it to the people in our districts to have real conversations about what each of us will do differently to stop these preventable deaths in our communities,” the statement said. “What happened today was a symptom of a much larger epidemic. And while we know that this is a moment when our community needs to come together and heal, we also know that this does not have to be our reality moving forward.”
Republican leadership in both the Kentucky House of Representatives and the Senate released Monday statements about the shooting.
“This morning’s attacks in Louisville are heartbreaking as lives are shattered by a senseless act of violence,” said Republican House Speaker David Osborne. “We mourn the loss of innocent life and hold those wounded in prayer as we do the families of both. As details continue to unfold, we also offer our appreciation to the men and women of the Louisville Metro Police Department for their response surely saved countless other lives.”
“After another senseless act of violence, the Senate stands firmly with the City of Louisville,” said Republican Senate President Robert Stivers. “During this tragic time, we will hold the victims’ loved ones and friends in our prayers. I commend law enforcement who rushed to the scene, placed themselves in the line of fire to protect the public, and ended an obviously deranged individual’s shooting spree. If not for these heroes, even more families and friends would be mourning today.”
Written by McKenna Horsley. Cross-posted from the NKY Tribune.