Demystifying Alabama’s new ‘shall issue’ gun law (VIDEO)

Starting tomorrow, Aug. 1, Alabama’s new comprehensive gun law takes effect, which among other things will make the Heart of Dixie a ‘shall issue’ state as opposed to a ‘may issue’ state with respect to concealed carry and will allow law-abiding gun owners to store firearms in their vehicles while they’re at work.

However, there’s way more to it than that and given the fact that there has been so much uncertainty about the new law and how it impacts gun owners, businesses, colleges, universities and the non-gun owning public, below is arguably the best explanation of the new law on the Web, courtesy of local news affiliate WHNT and their interview with Madison County Chief Deputy Chris Stevens.

Of course, Alabama residents can always read the bill itself, Senate Bill 286, or contact their local sheriffs for clarification.

Q&A

Can I openly carry a pistol on public property?

Yes.  There is no law preventing you from openly carrying a pistol in Alabama, if you may legally possess a pistol.

Can I be charged with disorderly conduct for openly carrying a pistol?

No.  The new law specifically states that you can’t be charged with disorderly conduct for openly carrying a pistol.

§13A-11-7-c.  It shall be a rebuttable presumption that the mere carrying of a visible pistol, holstered or secured, in a public place, in and of itself, is not a violation of this section.

Can I carry a pistol on someone else’s private property?

If you have a valid concealed weapon permit or if you have the consent of the owner of the property, then yes, you can have a pistol on someone else’s private property.

 §13A-11-52.  Except as otherwise provided in this article, no person shall carry pistol about his person on private property not his own or under his control unless the person possesses a valid concealed weapon permit or the person has the consent of the owner or legal possessor of the premises…

Can I openly carry a pistol in my car?  Can I conceal a gun in my car?

If you are on property you own, such as your back yard or farmland, you may have a pistol in your car, concealed or not.  If you are not on your property and you don’t have a concealed weapons permit, you can’t have a loaded pistol in your car at all.  If you do have a concealed weapons permit, you can have a pistol in your car.

§13A-11-73. (a) Except on land under his or her control or in his or her own abode or his or her own fixed place of business, no person shall carry a pistol in any vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person, without permit issued under Section 3 13A-11-75(a)(1) or recognized under Section 13A-11-85.

What if I’m moving?  How do I transport my pistol?

If you don’t have a concealed weapons permit, you may have a gun in your car if it is unloaded and locked in a compartment or container in the vehicle and out of reach from the driver or any passenger in the vehicle.

§13A-11-73. (b) Except as otherwise prohibited by law, a person legally permitted to possess a pistol, but who does not possess a valid concealed weapon permit, may possess an unloaded pistol in his or her motor vehicle if the pistol is locked in a compartment or container that is in or affixed securely to the vehicle and out of reach of the driver and any passenger in the vehicle.

Can my employer keep me from openly carrying or concealing a pistol at work?

Yes.  Any employer can restrict its employees, including ones with a concealed weapons permit, from carrying a pistol while at the employer’s property or while doing the duties of your job.

§40-12-143.  Section 4. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a public or private employer may restrict or prohibit its employees, including those with a permit issued or recognized under Section 13A-11-75, Code of Alabama 1975, from carrying firearms while on the employer’s property or while engaged in the duties of the person’s employment.

Can my employer prevent me from storing a pistol in my car while at work?

No.  No employer may restrict the transportation or storage of a lawfully possessed pistol or ammunition in your privately owned vehicle while parked in a public or private area, given that the gun is out of sight and you either have a concealed weapons permit or the gun is used for hunting.

§40-12-143.  (b) A public or private employer may not restrict or prohibit the transportation or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in an employee’s privately owned motor vehicle while parked or operated in a public or private parking area if the employee satisfies all of the following:

(1) The employee either: a. Has a valid concealed weapon permit; or b. If the weapon is any firearm legal for use for hunting in Alabama other than a pistol …, (2) The motor vehicle is operated or parked in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.  (3) The firearm is either of the following: a. In a motor vehicle attended by the employee, kept from ordinary observation within the person’s motor vehicle. b. In a motor vehicle unattended by the employee, kept from ordinary observation and locked within a compartment, container, or in the interior of the person’s privately owned motor vehicle or in a compartment or container securely affixed to the motor vehicle.

Does this mean that I can carry a pistol on Redstone Arsenal?

No.  The new Alabama gun law does not apply on Redstone Arsenal because it is a federal installation.

No concealed weapons are allowed on base, even if you have a concealed weapons permit. 

This is to include person(s) who are in possession of ‘Conceal Carry’ permits issued by the state. The permits are not valid on Redstone Arsenal, as it is exclusive federal jurisdiction. The only personnel authorized to carry weapons on the Arsenal beside the Police and Security Guards are other federal agencies, to include FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals, DEA and on duty civilian police officers here for training.

You can hunt on base, but Arsenal Assistant Police Chief Roger Triplett said you cannot bring a shotgun to work and then hunt afterwards. You must go home first, pick up your weapon and return with it. You must also register the weapon.

How long does it take to receive a concealed weapons permit? 

Sheriffs have a 30 day window to issue or renew an application, unless the sheriff determines that the person applying is prohibited from the possession of a firearm.

§13A-11-75.  (a)(1)a. The sheriff of a county, upon the application of any person residing in that county, may within 30 days from receipt of a complete application and accompanying fee, shall issue or renew a qualified or unlimited license permit to for such person to carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person within this state… unless the sheriff determines that the person is prohibited from the possession of a pistol or firearm pursuant to state or federal law, or has a reasonable suspicion that the person may use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner that would endanger the person’s self or others.

How long is a concealed weapons permit good for?  

The State of Alabama issues permits for one to five years.  Citizens can choose the length of time they want it to be valid, and pay the appropriate fee.

§13A-11-75.  …shall issue or renew a qualified or unlimited license permit to for such person to carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person within this state for not more than one year one to five year increments, as requested by the person seeking the permit…

Do I have to be a citizen to obtain a concealed weapons permit?  

No.   If you are not a citizen, the sheriff will conduct an Immigration Alien Query through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency and the application will require more paperwork.

§13A-11-75.  (d) If a person who is not a United States citizen applies for a permit under this section, the sheriff shall conduct an Immigration Alien Query through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or any successor agency, and the application form shall require information relating to the applicant’s country of citizenship, place of birth, and any alien or admission number issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or any successor agency. The sheriff shall review the results of these inquiries before making a determination of whether to issue a permit or renewal permit. A person who is unlawfully present in this state may not be issued a permit under this section.

Can I have my gun in my car when I pick my child up from school?  

Short answer, “No.”  Stephens had this to say about the way the new Alabama gun law interacts with current Federal Law:

What you have here is two laws that stand a little bit at odds with each other.  The Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act says you must have intent to commit an act to do bodily harm to someone to be restricted from carrying a pistol with a permit in school zones.

Section 6b of the new Alabama law says a person may not possess or carry a firearm inside any building or facility to which access of unauthorized persons and prohibited articles is limited during normal hours of operations by the continuous posting of guards and the use of other security features.

We contend that our SROs inside the school make this section applicable to them.

Can a sheriff’s deputy stop me, ask for my ID, and question me for carrying a gun openly on public property?

No.  Stephens had this to say:

No. Now he or she may receive a call for service.   In that case, we have instructed our personnel to observe that individual and make a determination if the person presents any harm to themselves or others.

We’re in the process of doing training with our deputies now.  This law affects sheriffs more than anyone, with licensing and enforcement.

Reactions

As one might expect, reactions to the passage of SB 286, colloquially known as the “guns in the parking lot act,” are mixed.  Pro-gun lawmakers and gun rights advocates view it as a major victory while gun control supporters see it as an inconvenience to businesses and a threat to public safety.

“The purpose of the law is to make sure the right of law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm and defend their families is clear,” Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale), the law’s sponsor, told The Associated Press.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) echoed Beason’s sentiments, saying that “Alabamians’ Second Amendment Rights are more secure than ever.”

Indeed.  This law certainly expands one’s right to keep and bear arms, but some critics argue that it comes at a price.

William Canary, the President of the Business Council of Alabama, told the AP that the law was “unnecessary legislation which erodes the property rights of businesses.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston) said she couldn’t vote for the law because it will encourage more people to carry firearms and along with the states ‘Stand Your Ground’ law will likely lead to vigilantism vis a vis the Trayvon Martin shooting.

“I would be doing an injustice to the people I represent if I voted for it,” she told the AP.

Sen. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton) concurred. “I respect the Second Amendment, but we can’t go back to the Wild West days,” he said.

Yet, despite what Beasley and Boyd predict, the most probable outcome is that the new law does not have any statistically significant effect on crime rates.

As noted in previous Guns.com articles, over the past several decades as more and more states have expanded concealed carry rights crime (property crime, violent crime and the homicide rate) has uniformly decreased.  While there’s not enough evidence to suggest that this decrease in crime is a direct result of the expansion of gun rights, one can say with almost certainty that the opposite is not true.  That is, more responsible gun owners exercising their right to keep and bear arms does not increase crime.

In the end, the Alabama legislature did the right thing by passing this law.  Congrats to Alabamians.  And, remember to carry responsibly.

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