Alabama’s fight to bear arms

Any red-blooded Alabamian knows that there is a deep Southern tradition rooted in the fundamental right to keep and bear arms. 

In fact, most Americans recognize the significance of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. But for those of you who might not be familiar with the issue or the amendment itself, I’ve placed it here for you verbatim:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So there it is. In black-and-white: shall not be infringed. Seems pretty cut-and-dry, right? Not so fast, says one Alabama lawmaker.

State Representative Mike Jones (R-Andulsia) says that the protections in the 227-year-old federal constitution is not enough for Alabama. 

In fact, he sponsored the Alabama Firearms Protection Amendment to amend Section 26 of the 1901 Alabama Constitution to add: “every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.”

This bill was passed by the Alabama Legislature in 2013 and will be on the November ballot for Alabama voters to decide if the law will be amended.

Supporters say this will make it tougher for government to impose gun restrictions and that it addresses concern that federal courts might overturn current laws protecting gun rights. 

“If that were to happen, and the justice had a difference of opinion, than the law is today, then that means the state would be the ones interpreting gun rights, so we want have our constitution make sure it says it’s a fundamental right,” says Rep. Jones.

Now, I’ve followed politics for quite a while and I’ve yet to see any significant evidence that the government is coming to take our guns. However, I have to give mad legislative props to Rep. Jones on his foresight in sponsoring this bill.

What we see here is a classic exercise of the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment gives rights not inherently expressed in the U.S. Constitution to the states.

Here, Representative Jones has “laid down the law” so-to-speak for the federal government—or anyone who attempts to alter Alabama gun laws for that matter. By placing this amendment in the Alabama Constitution it gives Alabama leaders legal standing to respond with “strict scrutiny” to any such actions.

At the end of the day, the law of the land (U.S. Constitution) will always supersede state law, and the Second Amendment likely does more to protect our rights to bear arms than anything else can or ever will. 

However, If I know the Yellowhammer state like I know the iron-sights on my 30-30, I’d say the chances of this amendment passing in November is right on target. 

Brett Johnson

Staff Writer

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