This Wednesday, April 29, the Alabama House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will consider House Bill 328. This important legislation seeks to achieve pragmatic and necessary reforms to Alabama’s firearm laws. If passed, HB 328 would amend Alabama’s unduly restrictive minor possession of pistols law and repeal the state’s duplicative and intrusive pistol registration process.
The NRA firmly believes that today’s youth will become tomorrow’s custodians of the Second Amendment and Alabama’s rich hunting heritage. As such, it is more important now, than ever before, that parents have the opportunity to pass down traditions of firearm and hunting safety to our future generations. However, these traditions are at risk. Gun-control advocates are working hard to indoctrinate today’s youth to singularly associate firearms with danger and violence.
As this nation’s preeminent firearm safety and training organization, the National Rifle Association works tirelessly to teach individuals how to safely and responsibly handle and use firearms. Studies show that this work helps to reduce firearm accidents and instills a necessary respect for the capabilities of these instruments of self-defense and hunting. When the tenets of firearm safety are taught at an early age they are more likely to be instilled permanently. This is the reason the NRA supports laws which seek to afford minors the opportunity to learn how to safely handle and operate all firearms, including pistols.
Alabama law currently imposes an absolute prohibition on the transfer of a pistol to a minor. As a result, a person can be held criminally liable for taking their son or daughter to the shooting range to teach them proper firearm safety. Boy Scouts cannot legally train or qualify for the Shooting Sports Outstanding Achievement Award. No exception exists for competition shooting, shooting sports or hunting.
As substituted, HB 328 would allow a minor to possess a pistol only under circumstances where they have permission from their parent or legal guardian and the minor is engaged in one of the following activities: (1) attending a hunter education or firearm safety course; (2) engaged in target shooting at an established range; (3) engaged in an organized shooting competition; (4) hunting or fishing pursuant to a valid license; (5) on real property under the control of the minor’s parent, grandparent or legal guardian; (6) acting in the line of duty as a member of the Armed Services; or (7) traveling to or from one of the above-referenced activities. These exceptions to the general prohibition on possession of a pistol by a minor are consistent with the laws of all surrounding jurisdictions and a large majority of states.
House Bill 328 also seeks to repeal Alabama’s pistol registration scheme, which represents an unnecessarily duplicative and burdensome intrusion on law-abiding gun owners. There is no indication that the registration scheme serves any additional purpose apart from the record-keeping already required under federal law. Furthermore, there is no indication that record-keeping reduces crime or furthers a public safety objective. In fact, it seems that the only practical effect of Alabama’s pistol registration process is the additional burden it places on responsible firearm dealers and purchasers.
Under current law, a licensed firearm dealer is required to maintain a record of all pistol purchases. This record, which is to be filled out in triplicate, requires the seller to document “the caliber, make, model, and manufacturer’s number,” as well as the purchaser’s “name, address, occupation, color, and place of birth.” A copy of the registration form is retained by the firearm dealer, and the other two copies must be sent to the Secretary of State and chief law enforcement officer in the dealer’s municipality or county, respectively. Alabama is one of only a handful of states that require pistol registration and maintain an associated database.
Please use the contact information provided below to call and email members of the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and respectfully urge them to support House Bill 328.
House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security:
Representative Randy Wood (R-36), Chairperson
Representative Allen Farley (R-15), Vice Chairperson
Representative Thomas Jackson (D-68)
Representative Dickie Drake (R-45)
Representative Chris England (D-70)
Representative Tommy Hanes (R-23)
Representative Mary Moore (D-59)
Representative Connie Rowe (R-13)
Representative Harry Shiver (R-64)
Representative Allen Treadaway (R-51)
Representative Isaac Whorton (R-38)