If you’re traveling through Alabama, don’t plan on stopping at a rest stop, unless of course you don’t mind being unarmed in a place known for deviant and violent acts.
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has officially turned all state rest stops into a gun-free zone under the guise of protecting public roads. ALDOT provides citations as to why the new law is technically legal, but their interpretation of the law is shaky at best.
ALDOT points to Section 25-1-59(c) of the Alabama Code, which gives them the power to “prescribe any reasonable rules and regulations so as to prevent unnecessary trespassing upon or injury to any of the public roads.”
ALDOT then built on that statute to create rule 450-3-1-.08(3), which reads, “No person other than a duly authorized law enforcement officer shall enter any Alabama Department of Transportation building with a firearm as defined in Section 12A-8-1(4), Code of Ala. 1975, without the written permission of the Director.”
In the most technical of senses, this judicial stepladder may seem logical, but aside from the implication that gun owners are inherently prone to causing “injury to public roads,” the prohibition of firearms in ALDOT buildings is in direct violation of the organization’s own statutes designed to guarantee the state’s citizens have the right to keep and bear arms.
Ala. Code Section 13A-11-61.3 gives “the Legislature complete control over regulation and policy pertaining to firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories in order to ensure that such regulation and policy is applied uniformly throughout this state to each person subject to the state’s jurisdiction and to ensure protection of the right to keep and bear arms recognized by the Constitutions of the State of Alabama and the United States.” (Emphasis added)
But Alabama’s new restrictive gun laws haven’t gone unnoticed, and many officials are in direct opposition.
“I think that’s certainly an overstep,” said Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise). “The Second Amendment is pretty clear: [government] SHALL not infringe. It seems like more and more, government tends to infringe on our right to bear arms. If anything, I think we need to be getting rid of gun-free zones, not creating more of them.”
Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) summed it up nicely by pointing out a simple fact nearly every gun owner knows instinctively: bad guys don’t listen to the rules; that’s why they’re bad guys.
“I believe that, nationwide, we’ve created these gun-free zones,” said Holtzclaw, “and cowards that want to be a martyr for their cause are attracted to them because they know that they’re going to be more successful in whatever form of terrorism or activism that they are trying to accomplish. So when we label a gun-free zone, we actually create a killing field for those people who obviously aren’t going to follow a law like that.”
Rest stops in Alabama just became that much more dangerous.
The ban was shot-lived thanks to the action of gov. Bentley:
I have ordered the AL Department of Transportation to remove signs banning weapons at all Alabama rest stops to comply with state law.
— Gov. Robert Bentley (@GovernorBentley) July 24, 2015
(This article was a submission from freelance writer Brent Rogers. H/T: Yellowhammer News, GunsAmerica reader Will Drider)