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  • Ala. Senate okays bill to ease state's gun restrictions

Ala. Senate okays bill to ease state's gun restrictions

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

A bi-partisan effort Thursday by the Alabama Senate led to passage of a bill that will ease some of the state's gun restrictions. The vote on Senate Bill 286 was 27-5. 

The bill, sponsored by Senator Scott Beason (R-Gardendale), makes it legal for guns to be locked inside a person's vehicle while they're at work and would okay a person's ability to obtain a lifetime, though revocable, permit to have a gun in their vehicle at all times.

Beason said certain aspects of current state law could be misapplied in a way that restricts Alabamians' Second Amendment right granted by the U.S. Constitution. 

"In light of recent attempts from the federal government to chip away at our constitutional right to bear arms, we have to do everything we can at the state level to preserve these rights," Beason said. "It's imperative that we make sure there are no aspects of state law that could be misinterpreted in a way that keeps us from protecting our families, our homes and ourselves."

Before its passage, Senator Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) tacked an amendment onto the legislation known as the "Castle Doctrine". That doctrine refers to the provision of Alabama law that affords heightened legal protection to someone who uses deadly force in self defense against home intruders. Taylor's amendment would give the same legal protection to someone who uses deadly force against an intruder at a business after the business has closed to the public.

The National Rifle Association is backing Beason's legislation, but some Alabama sheriff have come out against the measure.

The legislation now goes to the Alabama House for that chamber's approval.

Components of Senate Bill 286 include: 

Section 2:

  • Amends current law to state that the carrying a visible, holstered firearm in a public place is not a violation of state law

  • Creates a free, lifetime revocable permit for carrying a firearm in a vehicle only. Under current law, a firearm in a vehicle is considered concealed and requires a concealed carry permit.

  • States that a Sheriff shall issue or renew a permit unless the Sheriff determines based upon competent evidence that the applicant is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in a manner that would endanger the person, self or others. There is also an appeal process which gives a denied license applicant or an individual whose license was revoked an appeal to the District Court.

  • Includes an "open carry" provision that does not restrict a person's right to carry a pistol unconcealed or not in a vehicle. 

Section 3: 

  • Creates a requirement that a public or private employer may not restrict or prohibit the transportation or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm in an employee's privately-owned motor vehicle while parked in a public or private parking area if that employee satisfies certain conditions. 

Section 4: 

  • Creates protections for business entities so that the entity has no duty to guard against the criminal act of a third party and is not liable for the actions of employees whose actions are outside the line and scope of their employment.

Section 5: 

  • Allows owners of property open to the public to post adequate notice prohibiting firearms and have violators, including licensed carriers, arrested for trespassing if the individual refuses to leave when asked in the presence of a law enforcement agent.
  • Establishes that a business entity may not prohibit a person's transportation or storage of a firearm or ammunition if certain conditions are met and allows for civil action in the event there is a violation of this property.
  • Creates a list of prohibited places where a firearm may not be possessed without expressed permission of the owner (examples include college and high school athletic events, courthouses, and police and sheriff offices) 

Section 7: 

  • Expands the "Castle Doctrine" to businesses, allowing for the use of deadly force in self-defense when an intruder enters his or her business.

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