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Alabama Rep. files bill ‘to eliminate every gun-free zone I possibly can’

 (John Westberg/The Modesto Bee via AP)

(John Westberg/The Modesto Bee via AP)

Another legislator has brought concealed weapons on campus to the fore of debate. This time, it’s Alabama.

Though the 2016 legislative session hasn’t begun, State Representative Mack Butler pre-filed a bill that would “ensure the right of college students who obtain a concealed carry permit to conceal a pistol while at school,” according to Yellowhammer News.

“I hope to eliminate every gun free zone I possibly can,” Representative Butler said.

That would preclude a college from banning concealed weapons on campus. Colleges, however, could regulate how weapons are stored in dormitories, as well as establish “reasonable rules” and “certain limitations” surrounding their possession on campus.

The bill “would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901” to enforce the concealed-carry right. That would be unique for states that have previously passed laws to allow campus carry, so long as the student or individual has a concealed carry permit. Eight states already permit campus carry, according to the National Council of State Legislatures, and another 23 states leave the decision to the college.

Currently, individual colleges in Alabama make the decision about concealed weapons on campus.

The law change in Alabama would be dramatic because concealed weapon permits are available to anyone 18 years and older, whereas most states don’t offer the permit until an adult is 21 years old. In theory, then, almost every college student in Alabama could walk around campus with a legally concealed weapon.

Alabama recently revised its laws to become a “shall issue” state for concealed weapon permits, rather than a “may issue” state. “Shall issue” makes it easier for someone to receive a permit, as the state needs a compelling reason not to grant the permit, whereas state officials have more discretion to deny an application under “may issue” rules.

Those interested in obtaining a permit go to the sheriff’s office, complete an application, and pay a fee. A background check is run, and the sheriff approves or denies the application within 30 days.


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