Alabama already has one of the loosest gun restrictions in the country, but lawmakers felt there was one area that Alabamans were still be oppressed: Kids couldn’t legally carry around handguns.
To rectify this gap in the unstated “guns for everyone” mentality of Alabama’s Republican-led legislature, lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the state’s gun laws that would allow minors to acquire their very own pistols. At the moment, the law is on a bit more even keel, stipulating that “no person shall deliver a pistol to any person under the age of 18.” Lawmakers want that changed to allow minors to have pistols, but only if they get the permission of a “parent, guardian, or spouse who is 18 or older (?)”
But before you think Alabama is trying to legalize kids running around the neighborhood with guns after school, the bill adds that the minor can only have the pistol if accompanied by an adult… or if the kid is doing gun-related activities like hunting, trapping, target shooting, or while competing in a firearm competition, in which case he can use it all he wants all by himself. Even more brazenly, the amendment also would allow for children to carry a handgun on them as long as they remain on their parent or guardian’s property. So good rule of thumb: avoid children in Alabama, but especially if they are in or near their homes.
The measure is sponsored by three state senators: Arthur Orr, Greg Reed and Clay Scofield (all Republicans). A matching House bill is being sponsored by Ed Henry, Micky Hammon, Barry Moore and Corey Harbison (all Republicans). It’s unclear why the group of lawmakers felt that kids needed additional relaxation of existing gun laws.
On the flip side, we do know that childhood shooting accidents are in the top ten leading causes of accidental death among children. We should use the term “accidental” very loosely here because in almost every case the child stumbled across a loaded and unsecured gun somewhere in their own or a family member’s home. Now, in Alabama, children won’t even need to “stumble” on a gun, they’ll legally be allowed to possess it.
Not ones to waste a good amendment on just one monumentally bad decision, the lawmakers also added language that would remove record keeping requirements for gun dealers. In the new, much more terrifying state of Alabama, firearms sellers won’t have to “keep a permanent record of the sale of every pistol, revolver, or maxim silencer, showing the date of sale, serial number, or other identification marks, manufacturer’s name, caliber and type, and also the name and address of the purchaser.” That change sounds reasonable and definitely won’t make it harder for law enforcement to catch murderers.
Bills like these may be a victory for the NRA, but they are, without a doubt, putting the lives of children in danger. How warped is the mentality of Alabama’s pro-gun lobby that they feel that kids need handguns? How many of Alabama’s children need to die before the “freedom” of a child to carry a pistol isn’t worth the sacrifice? These are questions Alabama lawmakers must answer.