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Joint conference committee compromises on gun bill

By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–Scott Beason’s (R-Gardendale) gun bill passed the Senate on Thursday and will go to the House for approval on Monday, the last day of the 2013 regular session.

The final version of the bill is a substitute from a joint conference committee after the Senate voted to not concur with the House’s changes to the bill.  If the House chooses to add any amendments on Monday, the bill will effectively be dead for the session.

During the joint conference committee, relocation of pistol permit holders became a major point of contention.

Senators Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) and Scott Beason challenged the point that a pistol permit should be renewed immediately if the permit holder moves to a new county. Others believed that, since permits are issued by sheriffs and records kept locally, the forms should be updated.

In the joint conference committee version of the bill, “if a person issued a pistol permit in his state establishes residence in another state, the pistol permit shall expire upon establishment of residence in the other state.”

The interests of the Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Gun Rights lobbyists found a compromise in the joint conference committee as well. These groups conflicted over an employee’s ability to keep a gun in his or her vehicle on employer property.

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In all versions of the bill, employers are allowed to prohibit employees from carrying a firearm at the workplace or while performing “duties of the person’s employment.”

Initially, an employer “may not restrict or prohibit the transportation or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in an employee’s privately owned motor vehicle while parked or operated in a public or private parking area,” provided that the firearm is “kept from ordinary observation” when the vehicle is attended and “kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the person’s privately owned motor vehicle” when the vehicle is unoccupied.

In the conference committee substitute, the bill became tougher on gun owners.

The committee substitute adds to the requirements. In addition to the requirements above, the employee must have a valid concealed weapon permit to keep a pistol in his or her vehicle. Additionally, long-barrel guns may be kept if it is “during a season in which hunting is permitted,” if the gun is “legal for use for hunting in Alabama” and if the employee possesses a valid Alabama hunting license.

Lastly, joint conference committee addressed allowing people to carry guns during “demonstrations,” but struggled to define the size and scope of what would constitute a “demonstration,” so they removed the language from the bill.

The bill will go to the House for approval on the last legislative day, Monday, May 20. If the House concurs with the joint conference committee substitute, the bill will go to the governor for approval.

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