New law allows gun possession

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2000

for non-residents


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Visitors to Alabama may legally carry a pistol without an Alabama permit.

Under Act 2001-494, individuals visiting from other states can carry a pistol in Alabama if they possess a valid permit in their home states and if their home states have agreed to do the same for visiting citizens from Alabama.

Attorney General Bill Pryor said eight states, including Florida and Mississippi, have already joined in an agreement with Alabama to honor the pistol permits of visiting citizens under a new law that became effective this week.

The states formally entering a reciprocal agreement with Alabama to recognize one another’s handgun permits for visiting citizens are Florida, Mississippi, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said he is glad to see the legislature pass this law.

"Pistol permeits should be like drivers’ licenses," Thomas said. "If they are good in one state they should be good in all of them as long as permit holders do not violate the regulations."

Thomas said a lot of permits are issued through his officer to truck drivers who like to carry a pistol for protection when they are on the road.

"I can understand them wanting to carry a pistol," Thomas said. "It’s dangerous out there, and it is not feasible and the cost would prohibit them from obtaining a permit in every state they drive through.

"Vacationers are the same. People want to carry a pistol to protect themselves and their families and they should be able to."

Thomas said the new law is just "common sense."

‘I wish all states were entering into the agreement, and I think it will eventually go nationwide."

Pryor is also glad to see the states working together in the agreement.

"We are pleased to work together with these states to protect the rights of our law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for self-defense when they have proper permits," Pryor said. "Where there is not a conflict between state standards and citizens have met the appropriate legal requirements to exercise their Second Amendment rights, it is appropriate for states to communicate and honor the permits granted by the other cooperating states."

Following the law’s passage, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office contacted the appropriate officials in all states to bring as many as possible into reciprocity agreements with Alabama and is continuing to negotiate with states to expand the number.

Pryor commended Assistant Attorney General Pat Roberts of his Public Protection Office, who is coordinating the efforts with other states to arrange reciprocity agreements for gun permits.

The laws of some states, however, prohibit them from entering into such reciprocity agreements and others provide for granting special permits to out-of-state visitors who carry handguns.

While Alabama citizens may carry handguns in Vermont because that state does not require a permit, Vermont citizens do not qualify to carry a handgun in Alabama because they have no permit in their home state.

Out-of-state visitors to Alabama carrying guns must carry the weapons in compliance with the same laws and regulations by which Alabama residents must abide. And, while in another state that recognizes Alabama handgun licenses, citizens must similarly comply with that state’s laws and regulations.

If a gun owner from another state becomes a resident of Alabama, the permit from the previous state will no longer be recognized and that person will have to acquire an Alabama license through the county sheriff in order to continue legally carrying the handgun.

Alabama law includes the following provisions regarding handguns:

· A pistol is defined as "any firearm with a barrel less than 12 inches in length."

· No one may carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on their person without a permit.

· Permits are issued by the sheriff in the county where the gun owner resides.

· No one may own or possess a handgun if he or she has been convicted of a violent crime (defined as murder, manslaughter, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or larceny).

· No one who is addicted to drugs or habitually intoxicated may own or possess a handgun.

Violation of Alabama’s pistol laws is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $500. The violator’s pistol will be seized and may be forfeited by court order.

Federal law provides the following guidelines for the transport of handguns through states in which the owner does not hold a permit: the firearm must be unloaded; neither the firearm nor ammunition may be directly accessible from the passenger compartment of a vehicle; if the vehicle does not have a separate compartment from the driver and passenger area, the firearm and ammunition must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

In addition, federal law forbids the interstate transport, shipping or receipt of firearms or ammunition by anyone who has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment or more than one year; is a fugitive from justice; illegally uses or is addicted to a controlled substance; has been determined by court to be mentally defective or has been committed to a mental institution; is an illegal alien; was dishonorably discharged from the armed service; has renounced his/her United States citizenship; is under court restraint from harassment, stalking or threatening a domestic partner; or has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

Act 2001-494 was passed by the Alabama Legislature during the last regular session. It was signed into law by the governor on May 15.