Alabama might rank 49th in K-12 public education, but soon the kids in the state’s school system could be among the best armed in the nation. That’s because Alabama’s House and Senate are considering a bill that would allow an individual under 18 — that is to say, a child — to possess a handgun so long as the minor has the permission of a parent or guardian.
Current Alabama law (§ 13A-11-76) colorfully states,
No person shall deliver a pistol to any person 18 under the age of 18 or to one who he or she has reasonable cause to believe has been convicted of a crime of violence or is a drug addict, an habitual drunkard, or of unsound mind.
However, the pending legislation (HB 328 and SB 262) would amend this provision law by carving out an exception for minors so that the prohibition “does not apply if the minor has the consent of his or her parent, guardian, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older to possess a pistol,” and as long as these conditions are satisfied:
(1) The minor is in the presence of his or her parent, guardian, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older, or in the presence of another person who is 18 years of age or older.
(2) The minor is on the premises owned or leased by the minor’s parent or other immediate family member, guardian, or on the premises with the consent of the lawful owner or possessor of the premises.
(3) The minor is in the presence of a licensed or accredited gun safety instructor.
(4) The pistol is being used for hunting, trapping, target shooting, competing in a firearm competition, or firearm or hunting training or instruction.
It could be argued that children, in a legal sense, are of unsound mind, which is the reason the justice system distinguishes them as a group (i.e., “minors”) from the general population. Furthermore, it’s not clear if parental or custodial consent that is given would be legally valid if that parent or custodian has themselves “been convicted of a crime of violence or is a drug addict, an habitual drunkard, or of unsound mind.”
As an added bonus for gun dealers, the bill would also nix certain record-keeping rules by excising language requiring firearms sellers to “keep a permanent record of the sale of every pistol, revolver, or maxim silencer, showing the date of sale, serial number, or other identification marks, manufacturer’s name, caliber and type, and also the name and address of the purchaser.”
Keeping records can be hard, especially if you’ve been raised in a state that wants to arm its children instead of educating them well.