Archived Story

Gun law clear as mud

Published 1:46pm Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We’ve all heard about the new gun law that passed the legislature this year. Many of you have read our stories regarding the new gun law, which took effect earlier this month. You’ve probably read other news stories about it.

Many of you have attended the meetings conducted by Sheriff Ana Franklin about the new gun law.

The more I read about the law and hear discussion about it, the more I’m convinced that I’m not exactly sure what it says and what it restricts.

First of all, I do believe in the Second Amendment and U.S. citizens should have the right to bear arms. It’s a fundamental part of our country’s freedom.

However, I do think there is plenty in this law to confuse just where and how you can carry a pistol or a long-barrel gun.

This law explicitly states that every law-abiding citizen has the right to openly carry a gun in public in plain sight. That means, you can wear a holster on your belt walking down the street or in public places.

On private property or at a privately-owned business, you can carry openly only if you have the permission of the landowner, business owner or business manager. If a business posts a sign that says “no weapons” or “no gun zone,” then guns cannot be carried inside the business.

At that point, the business owner or manager will ask you to put the gun in your vehicle or leave the premises. If you fail to do that, then you could be arrested for trespassing.

Secondly, citizens still have the right to obtain a concealed-carry pistol permit. This applies to cars as well. If you’re going to have a gun in your car where you can reach it at a moment’s notice, you must have a permit.

Sheriff Ana Franklin made this clear at her town hall meetings. Having a weapon in your vehicle means that it is concealed from plain sight. So if you have a gun in your car and you don’t have a permit, you’re likely breaking the law.

There is one slight exception to that. You can transport an unloaded gun in your vehicle, as long as it’s unloaded, packed in a secured, mounted container and is out of reach of the driver and any passengers. That means you can put it in your trunk of your car or in your truck’s outside toolbox affixed to the vehicle.

If you’re an employee, you have the right to have a gun in your vehicle at work without approval of the employer.

However, there could be some confusion because this doesn’t apply to federal property or to any other places where guns are restricted by federal law. For instance, you cannot carry a weapon into your local post office since it’s federal property.

If you work at Redstone Arsenal, I would suggest that you not carry a weapon to work because it’s also federal property.

Lastly, you are not able to openly carry weapons on school property. If you’re a student or employee, you are subject to the school system’s rules. Hartselle City Schools is restricting gun possession of students and employees. That means you cannot have a gun on the property.

The biggest problem with this whole law is that nothing is said about long-barrel shotguns. So I think we’re still going to have some problems to work through.

We’re probably going to see more guns out in the open, but it cannot always be a cause for alarm. One thing we will have to do is to be considerate of our neighbors and understand that we must find a way to get along peacefully.

If we learn that lesson, that might be the best way to reduce crime.

Brent Maze is the managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.

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