Speaker Mac McCutcheon: As Biden attempts to roll back Second Amendment freedoms, Alabama House Republicans stand in the breach to protect them
As President Biden prepares this week to sign a number of sweeping and unconstitutional gun control executive orders and announces his appointment of a committed anti-gun activist to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, it is the proper time to reflect upon the past and ongoing efforts that Alabama House Republicans have taken to protect the Second Amendment freedoms of our state’s citizens.
Just this week, we passed legislation carried in the House by State Rep. Proncey Robertson (R-Mount Hope) that allows Alabamians to acquire lifetime conceal/carry firearm permits, which saves the trouble and inconvenience of having to travel to the local sheriff’s office and reapply each time a current permit expires.
The bill also allows law enforcement officers to better protect our families by providing tools to identify convicted felons and other individuals who have had to surrender their gun rights after judges ruled they pose a danger to the public.
Another bill currently being considered in the House is the “Alabama Firearms Protection Act,” which is sponsored by State Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Mobile) and seeks to shield Alabamians from state or local government enforcement of overreaching federal firearms laws.
Under the provisions of Stringer’s proposed legislation, state and local government agencies would be prohibited from enforcing any presidential executive order or unconstitutional federal law that “regulates the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories.”
It further prohibits any state elected official or government employee from enforcing such orders, laws and also protects items such as magazines, scopes, laser sights, stocks, grips, suppressors and other assorted accessories.
But a glance back at the decade since Republicans gained control of the Alabama Legislature demonstrates that working to shield Alabama from the ominous gun control agenda on the federal level is nothing new.
Through the hard work of House Rules Chairman Mike Jones (R-Andalusia), the Legislature passed and Alabamians ratified a state constitutional amendment declaring the right to bear arms a “fundamental” freedom in Alabama, and any restriction on that liberty is subject to “strict judicial scrutiny.”
The level of “strict” scrutiny is the highest level available in the American judicial system, and overcoming that bar is difficult – if not impossible – which protects the gun rights of Alabamians more than ever before.
The state constitutional measure also mandates that the federal government cannot circumvent the Second Amendment by subjecting Alabamians to international treaties or laws that infringe upon their fundamental gun rights.
Bringing together a coalition of the National Rifle Association, the state’s law enforcement community, local district attorneys and business leaders, Alabama House Republicans in 2013 helped pass the nation’s strongest gun rights law that not only protected but expanded the ability to purchase, keep, carry, use and transport firearms.
The statute, for example, changed Alabama from a “may issue” state to a “shall issue” state in terms of gun permitting, which means that sheriffs are now required to provide documented reasoning for denying pistol permits, and individuals may appeal the issuing decision. Previous law allowed pistol permits to be denied at the whim and discretion of local law enforcement with no reasoning or accountability required.
Alabama became an “open carry” state under the omnibus gun bill, which allows an individual to openly carry a firearm for personal protection unless a private business displays signage explicitly prohibiting them on premises. A small number of other commonsense exceptions are included in the law, as well.
We also cemented the rights of employees who have not been convicted of a violent crime to have a firearm, rifle or shotgun in their vehicle while at work, and we provided civil immunity to employers if a gun-related incident occurs.
And while Alabama has long had the “castle doctrine” which allows citizens to use firearms to protect their lives, homes, and property from invasion and harm, we amended the statute a few years ago to expressly allow business owners to protect their employees and businesses whether they are open or closed.
Since 1923, our state motto has been “We Dare Defend Our Rights,” and when it comes to protecting the ability of Alabamians to buy, own and utilize firearms under the Second Amendment, Alabama House Republicans are working hard every day to do just that.
Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) serves as Alabama’s Speaker of the House and represents District 25