New gun laws in Alabama are expected to make it much more difficult for people with mental illness to purchase firearms. These new gun laws take effect in the state of Alabama on September 1st. Alabama Governor Bentley signed the bill into law on June 4th.
One of the most significant safeguards of the new gun laws now requires that state probate court judges report every person they commit for involuntary mental health treatment. Under federal law anyone who has been involuntarily committed for treatment for a mental illness can’t purchase a gun.
Previously, the law required reporting only in cases where there was evidence of inappropriate use of weapons or threats of such use. Alabamians who were forced to receive mental health treatment can appeal to have their gun ownership rights reinstated.
The new gun laws, in most cases, had already been authorized federally, but had to be made laws, State Representative Chris England sponsored the legislation. The changes were supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
According to England, “This bill expands it to where the feds already are and hopefully will provide further protection for those in domestic violence situations or prevent those with a mental illness from legally purchasing a weapon.”
HERE IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE NEW GUN LAWS:
- A minor is now allowed to carry a pistol (with the permission of a parent or legal guardian who is also permitted to carry a weapon) for use in a firearm or hunter safety course or firing range; for organized competition with a non-profit group; or for hunting where permitted with a parent or guardian; in Armed Services or National Armed; or in self-defense of their own residence
- The following offenders are now prohibited from possessing a firearm: anyone convicted of committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence; those convicted on a misdemeanor domestic violence offense; anyone with an order of protection against them; or anyone of unsound mind.
- Probate judges must now report to law enforcement every person they involuntarily commit for mental illness. A person who has lost the right to obtain a firearm for mental health reasons under the new law can appeal and have that right reinstated.
- Judges must now report to law enforcement anyone found not guilty for mental disease or defect.
- Alabama law already prohibits a person from carrying a firearm into a facility posted with guards and barriers and signs, but there was no penalty for doing so. Now, among other charges, an individual can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
- People with concealed carry permits can now keep a firearm in their privately-owned vehicle while parked or operated in a public or private parking area, even if the establishment does not allow guns.