Despite the blitz against the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens launched by governors and state legislators in New York, Colorado, Connecticut, California and elsewhere this year, lawmakers in other states have passed responsible measures to protect and further the rights of responsible gun owners.
Alabama was one such state where firearm owners and sportsmen earned a substantial victory with the passage of an omnibus firearms bill, Senate Bill 286.
With the adjournment sine die of the state legislature days earlier, Governor Robert Bentley on May 20 signed SB 286 into law. It becomes effective on Aug. 1.
In a statement following the measure's signing, Gov. Bentley called the 2013 Alabama legislative session "the best…I believe the state as ever had."
SB 286 protects the rights of responsible gun owners and sportsmen in Alabama by reforming the state gun laws to:
- Allow those who possess a valid Alabama pistol permit to keep firearms stored in their vehicle while at work, as well as allowing those who possess a valid Alabama hunting license to store an unloaded rifle or shotgun used in their vehicle while at work.
- Authorize transportation of a handgun in a vehicle without an Alabama pistol permit as long as the handgun is unloaded, locked in a container and out of reach of the driver or passenger.
- Shift the current "May Issue" concealed carry permit system to a "Shall Issue" system and require a sheriff to issue or deny the carry permit within 30 days. Should someone be denied a permit, a written denial must be provided and the applicant would have an opportunity to appeal the denial.
- Allow a permit to carry a concealed pistol to be valid for one to five years (to be decided by the applicant seeking the carry permit).
- Require sheriffs to use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to conduct a background check on concealed pistol permit applicants.
- Allow for all other valid state-issued permits to carry a concealed firearm to be recognized in Alabama.
- Strengthen Alabama's firearms preemption statute by reserving for the state legislature complete control over regulation and policy relating to firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories in order to ensure such regulation is applied uniformly throughout the state.
- Extend the current "Castle Doctrine" to include places of business to ensure the right of self defense does not end when entering one's business.
State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) was the chief sponsor of SB 286, with Senators Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) and Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) listed as co-sponsors.