Alabama’s new gun law now in effectPublished 4:36pm Friday, August 2, 2013
Sweeping changes to Alabama’s gun law took effect this past Thursday and the new law has sparked concerns and praises from officials on both sides of the issue.
The law was sponsored by Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) and was also co-sponsored by local Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville).
“I believe this is a very important law because it protects our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, which is something I strongly support,” Bedford said.
“But it also balances our 2nd Amendment rights with our personal property rights.
“As a lifelong hunter, fisherman and member of the NRA, I believe it is important to have this type of legislation in place that clarifies our gun laws and clearly defines several gray areas.”
There are those, however, who do not feel the law is completely clear and that citizens may have some trouble getting used to the changes.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said he has spent a good deal of time going over the law so his office can clearly carry it out now that it has gone into effect.
However, even though he has reviewed the law extensively, he said that it seems vague in some areas and will be confusing to some citizens.
“The most notable issue some people will have is that it doesn’t restrict open carry of a pistol,” he said.
“If you are carrying the pistol openly in a public place where it is not prohibited and the weapon is not concealed, you do not have to have a permit, which has always been the law in Alabama but it has gained more attention with the recent debates about gun control.
“I imagine this will be the issue most citizens will be uneasy about, especially if they start to see people who are openly carrying pistols in public places.
“Unless a business or public place posts express prohibitions on guns being carried into their establishments or businesses, they will be allowed.
“I don’t believe this will be a problem, but it is something citizens need to be aware of so they will not be alarmed if they see more people openly carrying their pistols.”
Oliver said the new law also allows a person to carry an unloaded gun in a locked compartment or container affixed securely to their vehicle out of reach of the driver or any passenger without a permit.
If the person holds a valid concealed weapons permit, the weapon can be in any part of the vehicle, which has always been the case.
This also means that public and private employers are now prohibited from keeping their employees from having a firearm in their vehicle, even if that was an expressed company policy.
Oliver said weapons could still be prohibited from the company’s facilities or other areas, but if an employee’s firearm is in a locked container in their vehicle, the employer cannot ask for it to be removed, and doing so could result in the employer being sued.
Bedford said this fact was one of the main reasons for the changes in the law.
“People were being fired because they had a gun locked in their car at their place of employment and that was just wrong,” Bedford said.
“These people need to have the safety of a firearm if they believe it is necessary. Some of these people travel 30 and 40 miles to work one way, oftentimes at night, and they should be able to feel safe if they break down on the road between their workplace and their home.
“As long as the firearm is locked safely in their vehicle, there should be no problem.”
Oliver said other changes to the law affected the pistol permit process.
“People will still have to apply for a concealed weapons permit and the same criteria will be used, but under the new law, if a person’s pistol permit is denied, they will have a right to appeal the decision through the district court,” Oliver said.
“We have to provide denials in writing and a person will have 30 days to appeal the decision. If the decision is appealed, I will have to appear in court on these type of cases to give reasoning for the denial.”
Oliver said, however, that he doesn’t usually issue many denials so he believes the appeal process won’t have much of an affect on their current system.
“Most of the denials we issue are for criminal records,” he said. “Other people who have reasons to be denied a permit usually don’t apply in the first place.
“I don’t foresee any major problems with the new gun law, just some safety concerns. We will be doing our best to monitor the new law and make sure it is being abided by in our county.”
Oliver said anyone who had concerns about the new gun law or that wanted to read more about it could obtain a full copy of the law on the sheriff’s office website at www.franklinsheriff.org.