Governor Bentley Signs Alabama Gun Law

May 21, 2013

On Monday, May 20, 2013, the Alabama House overwhelmingly passed Conference Committee Substitute for SB286, a law reforming gun laws in Alabama. The Bill was signed by Governor Bentley on May 22, and will become effective on August 1, 2013. Due to the wide spread implications and controversial nature of this bill, this summary of the Bill is being published. SB286 is lengthy, 36 pages, and makes some major revisions to numerous currently existing Alabama laws. You can read SB286 in its entirety here.

Section 2. This section amends existing criminal statutes, including the following:

  1. 13A-11-7, Disorderly Conduct by adding “(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.
  2. 13A-11-52, prohibiting the carrying of a pistol on private property without the owner’s consent, unless the person possesses a valid concealed weapon permit (CWP).
  3. A person legally permitted to possess a pistol, but who does not have a CWP, may possess an unloaded pistol in his/her motor vehicle if it is locked in a compartment or container and out of reach of the driver and any passenger.
  4. Sheriff’s SHALL issue, within 30 days of receipt of a completed application and fee, a CWP in 1 to 5 year increments. The Sheriff can refuse to issue a CWP if the person is prohibited from possession of a pistol or firearm pursuant to state or federal law, has a reasonable suspicion that the person may illegally use the weapon, and can consider prior mental health, falsification of any portion of the permit application, or caused justifiable concern for public safety. If denied, the Sheriff SHALL issue a written statement setting forth the reason for denial and the applicant has an opportunity to appeal to the District Court.
  5. “A person who is unlawfully present in this state may not be issued a permit under this section.”
  6. Any identifying information for those who were issued a CWP shall be kept confidential, and not available to the public.
  7. A person licensed to carry a handgun in any state is authorized to carry a handgun in Alabama.


Section 3. This section provides for the payment of a license tax, in the amount of $150 in cities and towns over 35,000 people, and $100 in all other places, for gun shows. If the organizer pays the tax, each dealer at the show does not need to pay any additional tax if they are already licensed under the tax laws.

Section 4. This controversial section deals with guns in the workplace and parking lots.

  1. Employers MAY restrict or prohibit employees, including those with a CWP, from carrying firearms while on the employer’s property or while engaged in the duties of the person’s employment.
  2. Public and Private employers MAY NOT restrict the transportation or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in an employee’s privately owned motor vehicle while parked or operated in public or private parking area if (a) the employee has a CWP, (b)the weapon is legal for use for hunting and the employee possesses a valid Alabama hunting license, the weapon is unloaded at all times, and is during a season in which hunting is permitted by Alabama law, (c) the employee has not been convicted of a crime of violence, (d) the employee has no documented prior workplace incidents involving the threat of physical injury or which resulted in physical injury, (e) if the vehicle is attended by the employee, kept from ordinary observation within the vehicle, (f) if the vehicle is not attended, the firearm is kept from ordinary observation and locked within a compartment or container.
  3. If the employer believes that an employee presents a risk of harm to himself or others, the employer may inquire as to whether the employee possesses a firearm in his vehicle. If the answer is yes, the employer may inquire to make sure it is locked in a compartment or container. If not, the employee is subject to adverse employment action. If the employee is in compliance, no adverse action can be taken.
  4. Employers are permitted to report to law enforcement a complaint if the employer has information or belief that there is credible evidence that the firearm is prohibited by state or federal law, or a threat made by an employee to cause bodily harm to themselves or others.
  5. If law enforcement officers pursuant to a valid search warrant discover a prohibited firearm, the employer may take adverse action against the employee.
  6. If the employee is in full compliance with this law, or does not possess a firearm prohibited by state or federal law, the employee can recover against the employer compensation for lost wages and benefits, and compensation “for other lost remuneration caused by the termination, demotion, or other adverse action.”
  7. Except as set forth in the preceding paragraph 6, an employer “SHALL be absolutely immune from any claim, cause of action or lawsuit that may be brought…as a result of any firearm brought onto the property of the employer…” and “the presence of a firearm…on an employer’s property under [this Act] does not, by itself, constitute the failure by the employee to provide a safe workplace.”


Section 6. This section sets forth areas where a person may not possess or carry a firearm, without express permission. These areas include law enforcement buildings, jails, facilities which provide inpatient or custodial care of those with psychiatric, mental or emotional disorders, court houses, inside any facility hosting athletic events not related to firearms sponsored by any private or public school, either elementary, secondary or postsecondary UNLESS the person has a CWP. This also applies to any professional athletic event not related to firearms. The person or entity responsible for the premises shall post a notice alerting those entering that firearms are prohibited.

Section 7.

  1. This Act specifically preempts the entire field of regulation in Alabama dealing in any way with firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories “to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance, or other rule promulgated or enforced by any political subdivision of this state.”
  2. An employer is NOT prevented from “regulating or prohibiting an employee’s carrying or possession of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition during and in the course of the employee’s official duties.”


Section 8. This section amends Alabama Code 13A-3-23, dealing with self-defense.

  1. A person may use deadly force in self-defense if that person reasonably believes that another person is using or about to use deadly physical force, is using or about to use deadly physical force against the occupant of a dwelling in commission of a burglary, to thwart a kidnapping, assault burglary, robbery, forcible rape or forcible sodomy.
  2. This act added the following language permitting the use of deadly force if someone is “using or about to use physical force against an owner, employee, or other person authorized to be on business property when the business is closed to the public…”
  3. Deadly force is permitted if a person is in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or has unlawfully and forcefully entered a dwelling, resident, business property, or occupied vehicle…”

For more information about the Bill, contact Dan Burnick or visit his blog at Alabamaemploymentlawblog.com.
 

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