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House Passes Gun Rights Amendment to Alabama Constitution

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

With just four days to go in the 2012 Alabama Legislative Session Alabama House Republicans passed the last plank in their “We Dare Defend our Rights” platform that the Caucus had promoted prior to the Session’s beginning. House Bill 8 would guarantee Alabama citizens a right to have guns under the Alabama Constitution.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Mike Jones (R) from Andalusia.
Specifically the amendment to Alabama’s 1901 Constitution reads:

“(a)Every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state. Any restriction on this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

(b) No citizen shall be compelled by any international treaty or international law to take an action that prohibits, limits, or otherwise interferes with his or her fundamental right to keep and bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state, if such treaty or law, or its adoption, violates the United States Constitution.”

Obviously an act of Congress that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court would over ride any constitutional protections that Alabama could provide its citizens in the Alabama Constitution, but enshrining our traditionally accepted gun rights in the Alabama Constitution gives the state of Alabama legal standing to appeal to the federal court system if and when a future Congress passes legislation stripping those citizens of their gun rights.

The Alabama House Republican Caucus wrote, “HB8- Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment (Sponsored by Rep Mike Jones)– House Republicans understand that many Alabamians cherish their right to own and use a firearm. Recent 5-to-4 opinions of the Supreme Court have threatened the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment, but have ultimately upheld the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms. If President Obama has the chance to fill any Court vacancies during his second term, these opinions could be overturned. Consequently, our state constitution should, as strongly as possible, protect the right of every Alabamian to keep and bear arms. With this amendment, Alabama’s 1901 Constitution will contain the strongest gun protection provisions in the country. If ratified, this amendment would require future courts to use strict judicial scrutiny in evaluating state laws that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.”

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Representative Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden had wanted to add an amendment to the Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment giving workers the right to have their vehicle in their automobile even where their corporate bosses claim the right to bar weapons from their parking lots.

To prevent House Minority Leader Ford from adding the amendment (which is opposed by the powerful Business Council of Alabama) Rep. Jones tabled his bill (HB 8) indefinitely weeks ago. On Tuesday the bill was brought back by the Speaker. Before Ford could introduce his controversial amendment on Tuesday, Rep. Ed Henry (R) from Hartselle introduced a written motion to cut off debate and move for final passage.

The Republican super-majority easily passed the cloture resolution and then final passage of HB8.

Rep. Ford responded in a written statement, “Since February, Alabama Democrats have made it publicly known that we had an amendment for House Bill 8 that would protect an employee’s right to store their firearm in their vehicle while at work. But today, Republicans in the Alabama legislature showed their true values when they voted to cut off debate before our amendment could be offered. When pushed to make a choice, the Republicans in the Alabama legislature chose Billy Canary over the people of Alabama’s Second Amendment rights. The Republicans chose to put their biggest campaign contributor’s desires ahead of the safety and best interests of the people of Alabama. At the end of the day, we see that it is Alabama Democrats – not the Republicans in Montgomery- who will stand up for the Second Amendment.”

Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment now moves to the Alabama Senate where other planks in the “We Dare Defend our Rights” Agenda are also awaiting action.

If passed by the legislature the voters of Alabama would still have to ratify the amendment to the 1901 Constitution.

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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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