On July 7, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued an opinion interpreting Act 2013-283, Alabama’s broad gun law, to Claude McCoy, the attorney for the Chambers County Commission. The primary focus of the opinion was whether counties could mandate an across-the-board ban on firearms in buildings used for polling places on Election Day – including those located on private property such as churches. The attorney general opined that the county could not impose a ban on firearms in polling places that are on private property, as those locations remain under the control and rules of the property owner. In so finding, however, the attorney general stated the following:
“The owners of private property may also choose to forbid firearms on their property, even if the person with the firearm has a permit . . .
The owner of private premises or another authorized person may revoke the license of a person to enter or remain on private property. Ala. Code sec. 13A-7-1(4) (2006). Therefore the owner of private property who allows his or her property to be used as a polling place may personally, or by authorized representative, prohibit firearms on the premises, even with respect to persons who have a permit.”
It must be noted that attorney general’s opinions do not carry the full weight of law, and can be disregarded by a court if the judge disagrees with the attorney general’s conclusion. However, at this point, the July 7 opinion is the most authoritative interpretation of this aspect of the Alabama gun law.
Under the attorney general’s opinion, it appears that private property owners, including those who operate businesses that are open to members of the public, may prohibit the carrying of firearms on their property in all cases – even where the person with the firearm possesses a valid concealed carry permit.
Note that the attorney general’s opinion does not discuss any provisions of the law relating to the possession of firearms by company employees in employer-owned parking lots. For now, employers should not assume that the broad language contained in this opinion extends to include a right to prohibit employees from having firearms stored out of sight in their locked vehicle.