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Charlie T Waite

Alabama: Anti-Gun HB 265 would Violate your Civil Liberties

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Wednesday, April 17, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear House Bill 265.  HB 265, sponsored by Representative Merika Coleman (D-57),would authorize individuals to file for a “gun violence protective order” against anyone they claim is dangerous, which may be awarded by a court without any due process protections in place.  Individuals subject to such orders will be forced to surrender any and all firearms in their possession.  Without a doubt, HB 265 is one of the most egregious violations of civil liberties ever introduced in the Alabama Legislature.  This slipshod and misguided bill would create a process that is ripe for abuse. 

 

Please use the TAKE ACTION button below to contact the member of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to OPPOSE HB 265.

 

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HB 265 would authorize an individual to file for a “gun violence protective order” against someone they believe shouldn’t have firearms.  The list of those who can file for such an order includes family members, former dating partners, former roommates, as well as teachers and members of law enforcement.  When compared to federal law, HB 265 provides for an expanded universe of parties who can trigger the deprivation of a law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, as well as his or her Fourth Amendment right to be free from improper searches and seizures.

 

It should be noted that if an individual is truly dangerous, existing law already provides a variety of mechanisms to deal with the individual, all of which can lead to firearm prohibitions in appropriate cases. The issuance of a “gun violence protective order” does nothing to deal with the underlying causes of dangerousness, nor does it subject the person to any actual physical restraint, ongoing reporting or monitoring requirements, or treatment for an underlying mental health condition.

 

HB 265 will also have the effect of acting as a false security blanket by leaving truly dangerous individuals free to commit violent crimes with anything at their disposal.  HB 265 will only promote the denial of fundamental civil liberties, not protect public safety.

 

Continue to check your inbox and www.NRAILA.org  for issues impacting your Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage in Alabama. 

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There is much irony in the fact that the NRA has chosen to address this. This is explained at the end.

 

In general, Alabama is a very gun friendly state and I doubt it will go far. The fact is there are apparently laws in place which already allow this. I know this because, on April 10, 2007, my ex-wife filed a protection order against me claiming that "I had asked her to get back with me and when she refused I had threatened her life and I had guns."  I do, of course, have guns. The rest was a bald-faced lie. The protection order went immediately into effect. I understand why this would be the case because initially, nobody knows who is telling the truth and who might be a threat.  Having experienced a violent stepfather, I'm a fan of "the law says you have to stay away from me because I have a protection order in place and if you show up and I have to call the police and they find you where you're not supposed to be (close to me), you're going jail." I'm beyond okay with that. 

 

A protection order in place also meant that she also had to stay away from me. Once a protection order is in place, there is a hearing scheduled within a few weeks to determine if the order needs to stay in place. I called the court to ask that the date of the hearing be moved up because I was about to go on vacation. I arrived in court with emails, texts, and even voicemails proving that the case was exactly the opposite of what was claimed; it was her asking me to come back, not me asking her back. I was confident that everything would go just fine and was prepared to tell the judge that it was fine if the protection order was left in place. I didn't bring along an attorney thinking that once the evidence was seen and heard and agreeing that the protection order could stay in place, everything would be fine. Boy was I wrong! The judge never let me show the emails, texts, or listened to the voicemails. I was a man and I was guilty in his eyes. He decreed that I must turn in my guns. I remember walking outside the courthouse, looking up at the American flag, and thinking, "Did this really happen in the United States?"

 

Suddenly, if I went to a cowboy shoot, because I was now not supposed to be in possession of guns, I was a lawbreaker. The idea of being innocent, but found guilty rang loud and true. I was in shock. I was numb. 

 

By the next day I had calmed enough to prepare to fight it and being a NRA member, I was sure they would be so happy to find that they could come to Alabama, a VERY gun friendly state, and defeat a law that would allow a law-abiding citizen's guns to be taken away without due process. I called the NRA and told them the story. Here's the message I got; "That's unfortunate. Hire an attorney. And good luck to you."

 

I hired an attorney and it cost me $400 for him to look at the judge and essentially say this: Your honor, this man is 50 years old (this was 12 years ago) and has never been charged, let alone convicted of a crime short of speeding tickets. The last one of those was in 1980. Do you want to be the judge who stands against his second amendment rights in Alabama? The judge gave me back my guns. 

 

If I ever have the chance to stand in front of a high ranking NRA official, I have a few questions. 

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