Alabama Government Approves Carrying Guns into Voting Booth

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Luther Strange (photo: State of Alabama)

Voters in Alabama can now carry firearms into polling places, per the state’s top law enforcement officer.

 

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced last week that guns are allowed in the voting booth, regardless of what a local county decides.

 

The announcement came after the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association had called on the state’s counties to prohibit unconcealed guns from polling places. The law enforcement group had expressed concerns that the display of weapons might intimidate some voters from casting ballots.

 

That declaration prompted officials in rural Chambers County to request a legal opinion from Strange’s office, asking whether local leaders had the authority to ban firearms from polling stations. Strange replied that state law clearly says firearms at such places are allowed and the sheriffs’ association has asked the Attorney General to clarify his opinion. Concealed weapons are allowed if the person carrying the gun has the appropriate permit.

 

Strange’s decision did not change the ban on firearms at courthouses and schools, nor did it restrict the power of private property owners to ban guns on their premises.

 

“The owners of private property may also choose to forbid firearms on their property, even if the person with the firearm has a permit. This is no less true for property that is being used as a polling place,” the opinion said, according to AL.com.

 

Even those restrictions are too much for some open-carry advocates. Robert Kennedy, a founder of BamaCarry, said he left his polling place, a church, rather than leave his gun in his car. “It’s a horrible opinion ... because it places somebody’s private property rights over somebody’s right to vote,” he said.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

State Sheriffs’ Group Wants Clarification on Issue of Guns at Polling Sites (by Martin Reed, AL.com)

Alabama Ruling Hobbles Ban on Guns in the Open at Polls (by Michael Wines, New York Times)

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