Alabama Rep: ‘I hope to eliminate every gun free zone I possibly can’
An Alabama lawmaker has pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would allow college students who obtain a permit to carry firearms on campus.
Representative Mack Butler (R), who is also an Alabama police officer, will defend his bill when the legislative body reconvenes in February. Butler framed the bill as a Constitutional Amendment so that, if passed, it would then likely appear on the November ballot in Alabama. Butler told Yellow Hammer News he strategically crafted the bill as an Amendment to the Constitution of Alabama so that its fate will be in the hands of voters.
“By doing it as a Constitutional Amendment, every citizen of our state will have the opportunity to weigh in on take ownership of this very important decision,” he said.
Butler is on something of a crusade against gun control, vowing to eliminate every gun free zone on Alabama campuses.
“I have been working on this bill for months. I hope to eliminate every gun free zone I possibly can, which will increase the safety of all Alabamians,” he said.
The bill is similar to one passed in Texas last year; however, Texas requires permit holders be a minimum age of 21 and the amendment proposed by Butler would drop the age requirement to 18.
According to a draft of the bill obtained by Yellow Hammer, public universities in Alabama would be allowed to enforce “reasonable rules” to prohibit campus-carry in certain circumstances, such as sporting events or graduation ceremonies. Private institutions would have much more influence over how the bill is enforced on campus because of their private property rights.
In 2014, after the Alabama chapter of Students for Concealed Carry pressured administrators to change the existing weapons policy, the University of Alabama stood by its ban of firearms on campus. Cathy Andreen, director of media relations at the university, argued that the ban makes the campus a safer place for students.
“Our policies are designed to help make sure our campus is a safe place for our students, employees and visitors to live, learn, work and visit. UA believes its policies and procedures comply with the state law,” she said. “As a result, UA will not allow the possession of guns or dangerous weapons on our campus, except under the limited circumstances set out in its policy.”
According to the school’s Dangerous Weapons and Firearms Policy, the only “limited circumstances” in which students can have guns on campus is if the gun is stored in the university police department’s headquarters.
“University students may not possess firearms at any time on campus. UAPD provides temporary storage for firearms lawfully possessed by students at its headquarters,” the policy states.
Members of Students for Concealed Carry initially argued that the university cannot legally ban guns on college campuses since citizens have the right to bear arms on all state property.
“Legally speaking, you are allowed to carry on campus,” said Kenny Caldwell, the state director for the Alabama chapter of Students for Concealed Carry. “It’s state property, and there’s no law on the books that says you can’t carry on state property. What they have is rules. When you agree to come to the university, you agree to their terms and conditions, and one of those terms, in the student handbook, is that you can’t carry a gun.”
“That’s where they get you. If they catch you, they’ll expel you. They won’t arrest you, because legally speaking they can’t charge you with a crime for that,” he added.
Even though possessing a firearm on campus technically would not be legally punishable, the university’s weapons policy outlines specific penalties, including expulsion.
“Persons on campus and in violation of University policy are trespassers and may be dealt with accordingly, including, but not limited to, being removed from campus and receiving a written directive to remain off campus,” the policy states.
Butler did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.
(h/t: Red Alert Politics)
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