Tomorrow, September 1, 2015, House Bill 47, one of the most significant and thoughtful pieces of pro-gun reforms passed in the Yellowhammer State, will take effect. As previously reported, HB 47 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. This bill received significant bipartisan support in the legislature and was signed by Governor Robert Bentley (R) on Thursday, June 4.
House Bill 47 now allows a minor—under the age of 18—to possess a pistol only under circumstances where they have permission from a parent or legal guardian who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state of federal law and the minor is:
- Attending a hunter education course or a firearms safety course under the supervision of an adult who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law;
- Engaging in practice in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range under the supervision of an adult who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law;
- Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm or participating in or practicing for a performance which uses firearms as part of the performance;
- Hunting or fishing pursuant to a valid license, if required, and the person has the license in his or her possession; has written permission of the owner or legal possessor of the land on which the activities are being conducted; and the pistol, when loaded, is carried only in a manner discernible by ordinary observation;
- On real property under the control of the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or grandparent;
- Acting in the line of duty as a member of the Armed Services; or
- Traveling to or from one of the above-referenced locations or activities; has written permission to possess the pistol by his or her parent or legal guardian; and the pistol is unloaded, locked in a compartment or container that is in or affixed securely the motor vehicle and is out of reach of the driver and any passenger in the motor vehicle.
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 represented an unnecessarily duplicative and burdensome intrusion on law-abiding gun owners. Starting on September 1, federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) will no longer be required to separately record and submit all pistol purchases to state and local law-enforcement databases. Furthermore, existing records within state-wide and local databases will be destroyed, pursuant to the law.
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. Previously, a law-abiding gun owner was 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 need 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- an opportunity which was previously unavailable.
These major pro-gun reforms will take effect on September 1, 2015.