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Re: What to Watch For on Gun Safety As Alabama’s Legislative Session Begins

On Tuesday, Alabama lawmakers will return to Montgomery for the 2020 state legislative session. Last year, volunteers with the Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America stood with legislators as they defeated dangerous gun bills which would have allowed anyone to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public without a permit or background check, and expand Alabama’s deadly Stand Your Ground law. 

This year, Moms Demand Action volunteers will urge their representatives to continue to reject efforts to eliminate the state’s permitting system and once again reject efforts to expand Alabama’s existing Stand Your Ground law. They will also support lawmakers’ efforts to pass legislation establishing an extreme risk protection order.

More information on these policies is below. If you’d like to connect with an Alabama Moms Demand Action volunteer, please reach out.

Permitless Carry: Last year, volunteers with Moms Demand Action worked with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and local sheriffs to defeat dangerous legislation which would have gutted Alabama’s permitting system. More than 70 percent of recent Alabama voters oppose removing the permit requirement, but some lawmakers are pushing to eliminate the permitting system again this session. Alabama’s permitting system is incredibly effective — without requiring too much time or money, it ensures those carrying concealed handguns in public have gone through a background check. Permitless carry, on the other hand, makes it easy for domestic abusers and other people with dangerous histories to carry loaded handguns in public. 

Stand Your Ground Expansion: Stand Your Ground laws are associated with clear increases in homicides and encourage violence, often among those with violent backgrounds. In Florida, nearly 60 percent of people who claimed Stand Your Ground defenses had been arrested before. And when white shooters kill Black victims, the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable 11 times more frequently than when the shooter is Black and the victim is white. Instead of rolling back this deadly policy which disproportionately impacts communities of color, some Alabama lawmakers want to expand it further to allow any member of a religious group to shoot first and ask questions later if they perceive any physical threat – even in situations that are clearly not life-threatening. This unnecessary bill could be exploited by people who want to use lethal force with no consequences.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Extreme risk protection orders give loved ones and law enforcement the ability to temporarily remove firearms from people in crisis if a court determines they are a danger to themselves or others. Every 17 hours, someone in Alabama dies from gun suicide; while firearms are used in less than 6 percent of suicide attempts, over half of suicide deaths are with firearms. And in more than half of the past decade’s mass shootings, the shooter displayed warning signs before committing acts of violence. Extreme risk protection orders are already saving lives in states like Florida,  allowing law enforcement and loved ones to prevent gun violence before it happens. 

Alabama has the third-highest rate of gun deaths in the United States – and from 2008-2017, the rate of gun deaths in Alabama increased 32 percent. By rejecting dangerous permitless carry and expanded Stand Your Ground legislation and supporting extreme risk legislation, Alabama lawmakers can help fight back against the gun violence crisis which kills nearly a thousand Alabamans every year and wounds thousands more.

More information on gun violence in Alabama is available here.