New gun law goes into effect - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

New gun law goes into effect

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STATEWIDE -

Alabama's new gun law took effect today. 

It's commonly called the "guns in the parking lot act" because one of the biggest changes is an individual with a valid concealed weapon permit may keep a pistol locked in a car while at work.

This was a controversial bill from the beginning. What finally passed was a compromise.

Now that it's the law, many aren't sure of what they can and can't do.

This new law clarifies some existing gun laws in Alabama and adds some new provisions to the state's open-conceal carry laws.

Alabama Senator Scott Beason, the sponsor of the new gun law, says it simply helps better  protect the second amendment.

"Most Alabamians aren't going to see any change with the new law whatsoever," says Beason. "From the very beginning what we were trying to do was make sure we clarified and made clear that basically what has been in practice in Alabama for decades would continue on."

Here's what the new law means.

A gun owner no longer needs a permit to carry a pistol in a vehicle. However, the gun must be unloaded and locked in the trunk.

Employers can no longer prohibit an employee from keeping a loaded gun in a vehicle in the parking lot. But, a business still has the right to bar guns from inside the workplace.

"We wanted to make sure that people knew they still had the right and the ability to carry a firearm and keep it in their car while they go to work. That goes on everyday across this state," Beason says.

Employers can't be sued for gun related damages on the business property. They are also off the hook for any injuries that may result from a gun in an employees car.

An individual is allowed to carry a pistol on his person without a permit as long as the weapon is holstered and in view. And, not in violation of workplace or building policies.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says he believes the law will work.

"We're not going to go around picking on law abiding citizens who have a right to carry if there's no criminal activity a-foot, then that's absolutely fine," says Hale.

The law will make it harder for the Sheriff's office to deny conceal-carry permits.

"If they apply for a pistol license, the sheriff is mandated to give an answer within 30 days.  If they are denied a pistol permit there's an appeals process to circuit court," says Hale.

At the start of college football season, the new law has raised some issues.

It states anyone with a conceal-carry permit is allowed to bring a gun to sporting events sponsored by private or public schools and colleges. However,  the law appears to protect these institutions if there are policies in place that forbid firearms on the premises.

A release from the University of Alabama reads, "UA is continuing to evaluate the impact of the new law on our policies. It is currently a violation of the code of conduct to have a gun on campus and, under current policy, guns are not allowed at athletic events."

Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls says this section of the law needs clarification.

"The wording of it is kind of confusing," says Falls. "The statute seems to refer back to other parts of the statute or refers to other statutes in the code. It would have been a lot easier if they had just put it in one place."

Falls is not too concerned with the rest of the law as written.

"I don't see anything in it that causes me a lot of heartache, other than trying to read it," Falls says.

As for parents who pick their children up with school who have a gun in the car. There's a federal law in place. 'the federal gun-free school zones act'  restricts carrying a pistol with a permit in school zones.

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