Weirdest Laws In Kentucky

The wonderful state of Kentucky has much to offer both tourists and those who have chosen to make it their home. The growing city of Louisville holds many of the metropolitan amenities that so many of us crave to be a part of, while the lush eastern half of the state offers scenic beauty that is unique to Kentucky. And don't forget the Bourbon Trail, home of nearly 40 distilleries. This one-of-a-kind gem attracts over 1 million visitors each year alone (per Kentucky Distillers Association).

All states have unique qualities that set them apart from the rest of those in the U.S., and some of the most noticeable are the laws that they pass. Statewide, officials in Kentucky have passed thousands of laws since this state was first admitted into the Union in 1792. Some might seem a little strange, and others might come across as downright baffling. Let's take a deep dive into some of the weirdest laws ever to be passed in the Bluegrass State.

No hunting certain fish with a bow and arrow

Hunting in Kentucky is legal, but like every other state, there are certain rules and regulations that must be adhered to. In the Bluegrass State, you can't hunt from the window of a car, and fishing for sport fish with a bow and arrow is also against the law (per Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife), however, you can bow hunt for all the rough fish — or undesirable fish — you want, but if you happen to snag a paddlefish with your arrow, keep in mind that it's illegal in Kentucky for bow anglers to sell them or their roe. 

And if you decide to take a fishing trip to the Ohio River, the powers that be in Kentucky decided that you can do this with an Indiana fishing license, so long as you aren't on a bank on the Kentucky side (via Indiana Fishing). Apparently, the reciprocity agreement that Kentucky and Indiana share with one another for accepting fishing licenses from their neighboring states only applies on the body of water

No snake handling in church

The state of Kentucky has had a lot of its weirdest laws repealed since the 1970s. State statute 437.050, eliminated making it a punishable offense to interrupt anyone publicly speaking in 1975, for instance. 

For over 35 years, it was illegal in Kentucky to shoot fireworks in a public place. A law passed in 1944 prohibited this act, making it punishable by a fine. Fortunately for those who love public fireworks displays, this law was later repealed in 1980 (via Kentucky State statute 437.095).

You might have seen churches on the news that allows for their congregation to handle poisonous snakes. Kentucky has made this dangerous religious practice illegal. The state law forbids the use of any reptile, venomous or not, to be used in worship services. Anyone found guilty of this offense is subject to a fine between $50 and $100, according to Kentucky law 437.060. This law went into effect in 1942.

Kentucky had to pass a law against dueling

Laws against dueling are still on the books in the state of Kentucky. State law 437.30 reads that "Any person who, in this state, challenges another to fight with any deadly weapon, in or out of this state, and any person who accepts the challenge, shall be fined five hundred dollars ($500) and imprisoned for not less than six (6) nor more than twelve (12) months." The law goes on to say that if anyone is even a messenger in this situation, a "second party" in delivering the challenge or accepting it on behalf of someone else, you are looking at a fine or a possible 30 days in jail. 

The image you might have in your mind is one of the properly dressed men in frock coats and powdered wigs having a go at one another when this law was proposed. But what is really weird about this law is that it was passed in 1942, long after the era when dueling was a fashionable way to resolve a conflict.  

Minors need permission to shoot pool

Kentucky law 436.320 makes it a punishable offense for any minor to play pool in a public place. The exception here is if that minor has obtained written permission from his/her parent or guardian. But this permission must be on a card that is given to the minor by the owner of the establishment, who is required to keep blank cards on hand. Should little Billy or Jenny want to play pool in a pool hall, they must keep this permission card with them at all times. The fine for violating this law is a minimum of $10 and a maximum of $100.  

It is illegal in Kentucky to sell or display baby ducks or chicks that have been dyed another color if the animals are less than two months old. They will grant an exception here if you are selling or displaying them in quantities of six or more. This law also applies to rabbits (via Kentucky statute 436.600).  

Keep empty ice cream cones out of your back pocket

Some of these laws might make one wonder — what was so appealing about these laws when they were first proposed by lawmakers? But for every one, keep in mind that there is usually a well-intentioned reason in most any weird law's history.

For example, an old law in Lexington used to keep a person from carrying an empty ice cream cone in their back pocket (via Stupid Laws). While this seems rather silly, it had a great purpose when it was passed. Horse thieves would use empty cones to lure away prospective horses from their unsuspecting owners. When the horses would follow, the thieves would guide or ride them out of sight.

If this law tells us anything, it's that some laws have certainly outlasted their useful life. This is why revisions of codes of law and city ordinances are a great thing to be performed periodically. This way, the law reflects the needs and the values of the people it is supposed to represent.