In a victory for Second Amendment supporters, the Alabama Supreme Court has struck down a state law prohibiting the open carry of firearms on private property owned by another.
The case wound its way through the system after Jason Dean Tulley, 38, appealed a conviction for violating the law when he carried a weapon in his hip at the First Educators Credit Union on March 31, 2011, according to AL.com.
An off-duty police officer who was working security at the credit union told Tulley, who also has a concealed carry license, to go out and store the weapon in his car before conducting business. After a bit of arguing, Tulley finally complied, and thought that was the end of it.
But it wasn’t. Days later, the police decided to charge him under the statute. The trial court found him guilty and fined Tully $200, according to the Anniston Star. That’s when the appeals process began, resulting in a reversal of his conviction.
“This is definitely a victory for gun rights advocates,” said J.D. Lloyd, one of Tulley’s appellate lawyers. “More importantly, it’s a victory for folks who believe in due process and don’t want to see the Legislature passing vague criminal statutes.”
He also addressed situations where business-owners want to identify their establishments as “gun free zones.”
“I believe businesses still have options available to limit people bringing firearms onto their property, but open carry advocates shouldn’t fear criminal prosecution under 13A-11-52 going forward,” Lloyd said.
Tully’s trial lawyer, Joe Basgier, said the constitutional issue centered more on the rights of a criminal than it did on Second Amendment issues.
“A person facing criminal prosecution has a fundamental right to know what the consequences are of their criminal conduct,” Basgier wrote in an email to AL.com on Sunday. “In this case, my client was convicted of what the trial court called a violation, but which was based on a state criminal statute lacking even a mention of the criminal penalties. The end result is that 13A-11-52 is not a ‘crime,’ and can not be prosecuted as such.”
And he agreed with Lloyd that businesses could continue to establish “gun-free zones.”
“I do think that the statute is still useful for business owners as I believe, with proper notice to the public, that it allows businesses to effectively use state and municipal trespassing laws to bar guns from being brought onto their premises – if they so choose,” Basgier stated.
The court ruled, in a 5-3 decision, that the law under which Tulley was convicted was unconstitutional.
“At the heart of the case was their (the supreme court’s) determination that the statute is unconstitutionally vague because it doesn’t possess a punishment provision and the Code of Alabama doesn’t supply a ‘catch-all’ punishment provision for the offense,” Lloyd said.
Two years after Tulley was charged, the law was revised.
“The Alabama Legislature in 2013 did update the law to include a phrase that states no one can carry on premises not their own or under their control ‘unless the person possesses a valid concealed weapon permit or the person has the consent of the owner or legal possessor of the premises,’ ” according to AL.com.
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