IN THE OPEN
Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 1, 2013
Alabamians receive wide berth to carry guns as part of new law
Alabama’s new gun law may have some folks pointing to shades of the Wild, Wild West.
Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said according to the new gun law anyone 18 years and older can now carry a firearm on their side in public places with or without a permit.
“It’s their constitutional right,” Thomas said. “They can walk right into a jewelry store, a bank, a convenience store or a church with a firearm strapped to their side. But businesses can prevent people from coming in with a gun strapped to their sides by posting a sticker designating their business as a ‘no gun’ zone. If a person refuses to leave a ‘no gun’ zone, they can be charged with trespassing.”
Thomas said that, under the new gun law, a person could carry a gun in his or her vehicle even if they don’t have a permit.
“The gun must be unloaded, locked and out of reach of the driver and the passengers,” Thomas said. “An employee can also carry a gun in his vehicle onto the employer’s parking area without the approval of the employer. But a person may not carry a handgun on property, not his own, without permission of the owner or if it is posted as a ‘no gun’ zone.”
The law allows a person to carry a licensed gun into sporting events unless the schools or teams hosting the events take specified steps to prevent them from doing so, Thomas said.
“I really don’t know what to expect now that the new gun law is in effect,” Thomas said. “Some of those who kept their guns concealed will now carry them openly. The big question, though, is sporting events and how this law will affect them, especially on college campuses. We’re going to have a training session in Montgomery next week and that will be very helpful in carrying out this new law.”
Thomas said his concern is that good people will now be more hesitant to step in and break up altercations because of the greater likelihood that guns will be involved.
“And, for law enforcement, the calls that we get will have the potential to be more dangerous,” he said.
State Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, who supported the new Alabama gun law, said the law assures citizens their Second Amendment rights.
“The right to bear arms is a right our forefathers wanted us to have,” he said. “This law will allow citizens to protect themselves and defend themselves if need be. Now that the law is in effect, I don’t foresee a rash of gun incidents.
“The largest number of people who have guns don’t cause any problems. It’s those few that cause problems without any regard for the law. Those people are determined to do whatever they want to do no matter what the law is.”
Boothe said the safety of school campuses will not be compromised by the new gun law. “Federal law mandates provisions that will not allow guns to be carried on school grounds,” he said.