People under 18 could soon be legally able to have handguns in Alabama if bills in the state House and Senate are approved.
Both branches of the state legislature are considering a bill that, if passed, will allow minors with their parents' permission to posses pistols.
The bill, HB 328 in the House and SB 262 in the Senate, would also eliminate certain requirements for the registration of the sale of pistols by federally licensed dealers, local law enforcement and the Secretary of State.
Currently, the Code of Alabama specifies that "no person shall deliver a pistol to any person under the age of 18."
The proposed legislation would amend that law so that it does not apply if the minor has the consent of a parent, guardian, or spouse who is 18 or older.
The bill also says the minor must be with their parent or guardian, or with a licensed or accredited gun safety instructor to have the pistol, unless the weapon is to be used "for hunting, trapping, target shooting, competing in a firearm competition, firearm or hunting training or instruction."
The bill, if passed, would also eliminate record-keeping requirements from the Code of Alabama, removing language that mandates firearm dealers "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."
Under current law, federally licensed dealers are required to make those records in triplicate, keeping one, sending one to a local law enforcement agency and sending the last to the secretary of State.
Senators Arthur Orr, Greg Reed and Clay Scofield sponsored SB 262. Representatives Ed Henry, Mick Hammond, Barry Moore and Corey Harbison sponsored the House bill.
Orr said early Friday evening that the bill will not affect federal law prohibiting minors from purchasing firearms and is simply meant to allow minors to use guns to hunt, target practice and other recreational activities.
Orr said he started hunting with his parents' permission when he was 12, which under current law is technically illegal. He said the bill and its companion in the House are meant to bring reason and common sense to Alabama's gun laws.