Alabama Lawmaker Seeks to Change CCW Laws After Chardon Shooting

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Nick Banaszak, WHNT, Reporting

Could an armed parent or teacher have made a difference in the recent Ohio school shooting?

That question could soon become the center of debate in Alabama, as one state lawmaker works on a bill that would make schools and colleges off limits for licensed gun owners.

Alabama state law currently allows adults who have a permit to carry their concealed weapon onto school property. But State Rep. Mac McCutcheon (R) of Madison calls that a safety hazard, one reason why he’s pushing a bill to ban the practice. McCutcheon is in the process of drafting the yet-to-be named legislation, and told WHNT News 19 that Alabama’s concealed carry laws should not extend to school property for the sake of safety.

“The law enforcement community approached me about this issue,” said McCutcheon. “There were some discussions based upon school shootings that we’ve had…If someone is caught on school grounds with a firearm, there is no state law to charge them with anything.”

McCutcheon said an incident at Bob Jones High School in January pushed his proposal to the front burner. In that case, a licensed gun owner accidentally left his loaded pistol in a laptop bag inside the school. The owner had come to Bob Jones to attend a wrestling meet, but school officials who had wanted to press charges were told they could not due to the lack of a relevant statute.

Gun owner advocates have blasted McCutcheon’s proposal, noting that the state of Ohio already had a similar law in place before this week’s tragic shooting at Chardon High School that left three students dead. Alabama Open Carry spokesman Tony Shiflett told WHNT News 19 that the bill would actually make schools and colleges less safe.

“It’s a bad bill because it’s only aimed at law abiding citizens, it has nothing to do with criminals,” said Shiflett. “The shooting in Ohio proves that they are wrong. If somebody just pulls up and starts shooting the place up, all you can do is duck and cover. An armed parent, maybe in the parking lot, maybe in the building, can actually do something before the cops even find out something is going on.”

Some Alabama school systems already have policies that forbid people from carrying a concealed weapon on campus, but those school rules cannot lead to criminal charges unless a gun owner who is asked to leave refuses to do so.

Rep. McCutcheon said the state’s police chief association has endorsed his proposal.