Last evening, just a few hours after the Alabama Senate adjourned for the 2015 regular legislative session, Gov. Robert Bentley received and promptly signed House Bill 47—NRA-backed comprehensive pro-gun legislation. House Bill 47, sponsored by Rep. Chris England (D), represents one of the most significant and thoughtful pieces of pro-gun reform to affect the Yellowhammer State. This legislation, which garnered significant bipartisan support throughout the legislative process, accomplishes the following reforms: (1) Amends Alabama’s unduly restrictive minor possession of pistols law; (2) Repeals Alabama’s duplicative and unnecessary pistol registration requirement; (3) Narrows a prohibited facility’s authority to ban firearms outside of the building; and (4) Creates avenues for federally prohibited persons to seek restoration of firearm rights. These reforms take effect on September 1, 2015.
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, recreation 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.
House Bill 47 now allows a minor to possess a pistol only under circumstances where they have permission from their parent or legal guardian and the minor is: (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 47 also repeals 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 served any additional purpose apart from the record-keeping already required under federal law. Furthermore, there is no indication that the record-keeping reduced crime or furthered a public safety objective. In fact, it seems that the only practical effect of Alabama’s pistol registration process was the additional burden it placed on responsible firearm dealers and purchasers.
Another major component of HB 47 will have a significant impact on law-abiding gun owners’ ability to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense. Prior to the effective date of HB 47, a law-abiding gun owner is prohibited from possessing a firearm on hospital “premises”—including curtilage, parking lots and parking garages. As a result, law-abiding individuals who are forced to visit a hospital because of their own ailment or the ailment of a friend, family-member, or loved-one would necessarily have to remove all firearms from their person and vehicles in order to park or step onto hospital premises. This government-mandated disarmament was especially troublesome for individuals who were forced to travel great distances to hospitals located in historically high-crime urban areas. HB 47 remedied this issue by amending the prohibition to only apply to the interior confines of the hospital building, or “facility.”
Lastly, HB 47 includes numerous provisions which afford individuals who are federally prohibited from possessing firearms with an avenue to seek restoration of those rights—such avenues for federal restoration were previously unavailable. HB 47 accomplishes this goal by creating state prohibitions for possession by certain individuals that mirror federal prohibitions. While the result necessarily aligns Alabama’s law with federal law, it also allows for prohibited individuals to petition state courts and boards for restoration of both their state and federal firearms rights.
Please join your NRA-ILA in thanking the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris England for tirelessly working to achieve these monumental reforms. We also hope that you will thank Speaker Mike Hubbard, Rep. Ed Henry and Rep. Randy Wood for their work in the Alabama House of Representatives. Additionally, please take time to thank Sen. Arthur Orr, Sen. Jimmy Holley, Senator Singleton and the Senate leadership for their efforts. Lastly, please thank Gov. Robert Bentley for expeditiously signing House Bill 47 into law. Please find the contact information below.
Representative Chris England (D-70)
Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-79)
Representative Ed Henry (R-9)
Representative Randy Wood (R-36)
Senator Arthur Orr (R-3)
Senator Jimmy Holley (R-31)
Senator Bobby Singleton (D-24)(334) 242-7935