New gun law to take effect throughout state ThursdayPublished 11:46pm Wednesday, July 31, 2013
As of Thursday, Aug. 1 laws in the state of Alabama surrounding the possession of firearms are changing in many ways.
Scott Beason, a Republican state senator from Gardendale, created the law to enforce citizen rights regarding the second amendment, but law enforcement offices around the state, including Dallas County, say they are still unsure of what the new laws entail.
“You could read this 60-page law over and over again and still find something new every time,” said Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman, who said his department has not yet been trained on the new set of laws which change how residents can carry guns openly or concealed. “Parts of this law I like and parts of it I don’t like. There have been a lot of sheriffs that feel the same way.”
New system for gun permits
One major change for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department has required them to change their software for gun permits. While their old system only allowed them to create permits that expired each year, Alabama residents now have the option to purchase a permit that is valid for up to five years. The cost is $20 per year, so a five-year permit would cost a resident $100.
“The law also has stricter background checks,” Huffman said, and explained he and his department have to run applicants through a new national database.
If the applicant is denied a permit, he or she under the new law has a right to a hearing with a district judge. The sheriff will then have to go before the judge and explain why the permit was denied.
Huffman said if he denies as many permits as he does now, he will have to appear in court often.
“It is going to be time consuming,” Huffman said. “We average 20 or 30 permits a week and if I deny 10 this week and 10 next week, and 10 the week after that, I’m going to be in court every week.”
Thankfully, Huffman said, most permits are usually accepted.
Guns to be allowed in workplace parking lots
Firearms under the new legislation will be allowed inside of cars on company property, but the company is not liable for anything the company does or any repercussions of the gun being stored in the car.
Most employers will still not allow firearms inside the workplace, but now employers can keep them in their vehicles. And if employers do not comply — they can be sued.
Carrying a pistol with or without a permit
Residents can now carry guns without permits in their vehicles but the guns must be unloaded and in a locked box within the car. The gun also has to be out of reach for someone that could be using it. This means the gun cannot be in a place such as the glove compartment or under the seat, but rather locked in a box in the trunk. Gun owners who have a permit are legally allowed to store the gun wherever they would like in their cars.
Those without permits can now carry guns in public places as long as the weapon is not being carried as a concealed weapon.
Huffman explained individuals can now walk down a public street like Broad Street with a gun in a holster, but once they put a coat on and hide the gun and do not have a permit, they are carrying a concealed weapon illegally.
“If they cover it up or get into a vehicle with it strapped on their side it’s a concealed weapon so they can be arrested,” Huffman said. “They can go into any business in Selma, Dallas County and the state of Alabama unless the business has a sign that says in the window ‘This is a no gun zone.’”
As for what will change Thursday as the new law takes effect, Huffman said he does not know what to expect but said he has his concerns with allowing non-permit gun carriers to walk around in public venues with weapons in the open.
“This bill has its strong points but also some dangerous points,” he said. “It enforces the second amendment and I firmly believe in that, but you have people out here that have no business owning a hand gun and that concerns me.”