Alabama AG, DCNR seek stay on lawsuit over written permit policy to carry firearms in state parks – Update Alaba

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Commissioner Chris Blankenship have asked the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama to delay ruling on a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s policy of written firearms permits in state parks until their new plan is implemented in March.

The state park’s written permit requirement was recently the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by William Lee Mitchum, an Alabama native and Mississippi resident, against Blankenship and Marshall. Mitchum said the manager of Meaher State Park denied his Second Amendment right to possess a firearm for “immediate self-defense” in July, according to his complaint filed Oct. 14.

In the state’s motion filed Monday, attorneys for Blankenship and Marshall wrote that DCNR would “cease enforcement” Alabama State Parks rule requiring a written permit to carry a firearm on state park land beginning in 2023.

“In March of this year, the Alabama Legislature passed [constitutional carry], which amended a number of firearms provisions in the Alabama Code,” the proposal states. “Relevant here, the law ‘eliminate.'[d] the requirement that a person obtain a concealed carry permit to lawfully carry a handgun.” When the law takes effect on January 1, 2023, the department will stop enforcing the rule’s permit language. In late March, the ministry began the process of updating the rules and regulations in light of the law. On November 17, 2022, the Department submitted a “Notice of Intended Action” to amend the rule.’

According to the motion to stay, the amendment to the state park’s gun policy allows legally authorized persons to carry guns without a permit, allows state park residents to keep long guns as long as they are unloaded and secured, and allows the commissioner to designate places where the possession of firearms is prohibited.

The notice and comment period for DCNR’s amendment to the firearms rule ends on January 9, 2023, and DCNR anticipates that the amended rule will take effect on March 17, 2023.

“If the amended rule is adopted, there will likely be a lot of discussion [Michum’s] lawsuit,” attorneys for Blankenship and Marshall say in the state’s motion for a stay. “A plaintiff will likely need to amend his complaint to challenge the revised rule. Although Plaintiff has advised Defendants that it will likely have problems with the amended rule, Defendants do not believe that it is in the interest of judicial economy to continue to explore a rule that will in all likelihood be amended.

Responding to the state’s motion to stay, Mitchum told 1819 News on Tuesday that “if the state had concerns about “litigation economy,” “they had more than ample opportunity to address that before my lawsuit was filed.”

Mitchum said, “It’s worth noting that I filed written complaints with both the Alabama Attorney General and DCNR in July, along with a Notice of Intent to File in August prior to filing the lawsuit in October.”

“Commissioner Blankenship and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall are trying to use the new law that allows concealed carry without a permit to save face and avoid public embarrassment,” Mitchum added. “We know this because they’ve had to deal with this unconstitutional park rule since March, and now they’ve only acted when they were required to respond to my lawsuit.”

Mitchum said the state’s motion to stay sought “permission to continue to impose unconstitutional restrictions on our Second Amendment right to self-defense in non-sensitive government venues. [Alabama State Parks].”

“They further ask the court to stay the proceedings while they attempt to replace one unconstitutional rule with another unconstitutional one,” Mitchum said. “Commissioner Blankenship does not have the authority to designate firearms areas. These government-mandated gun-free zones are a threat to everyday law-abiding citizens, and I plan to challenge their request for a stay of proceedings. Supreme Court v Bruen, McDonald, and Heller decisions have clearly shown that when the government imposes rules regarding Second Amendment, the state has the burden of proving that these restrictions are consistent with the intentions of the Second Amendment when it was adopted by “we the people.” The rule, which goes into effect in January 2023, cannot do that.”

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