Alabama’s controversial and confusing new gun law went into effect yesterday, August 1, as law enforcement officials, employers, and university officials continue to have questions about the law’s impact.
Opposed by the Business Council of Alabama, the new law allows employees to keep loaded handguns in their cars while parked at work and allows employees to sue their employers if they are punished for having weapons in their vehicles. Anyone can keep an unloaded pistol in his car, even without a permit.
Employers cannot be held liable for injuries or damages that result from employees having guns in their vehicles at the workplace.
The new law also makes it harder for sheriffs to deny conceal-carry permits by requiring county sheriffs to issue a permit within 30 days of the application unless the sheriff can articulate a “reasonable suspicion” that the applicant would use the weapon unlawfully or in a manner that presents a danger to the public or the applicant. Sheriffs must notify the applicant in writing of the reason for denying the permit, and the law provides for an appeal to the local district court, where the sheriff bears the burden of proving the applicant should not be granted a permit.
The new law also expands the ability to carry an unconcealed weapon in public by creating a “rebuttable presumption” that merely carrying a visible weapon is not a violation. No permit is required to carry an unconcealed weapon in Alabama.
Many parts of the law still need clarification, deputy director Barry Matson of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, which backed the new law, told law enforcement officers during a training this week.
University of Alabama officials are among those questioning language in Section 6 (a) of Act 2013-283, which provides that people with a sheriff-issued concealed carry permit will be allowed to carry their firearms to athletic events in the state, even those sponsored by elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Current policy at the University of Alabama does not allow anyone other than law enforcement to carry firearms to athletic events on campus.