Alabama AG, DCNR are seeking a stay of litigation over written permitting policies for carrying firearms in state parks

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Commissioner for Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Chris Blankenship have asked the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama to review a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s written state park firearms permit policy to postpone until after their new plan will be implemented in March.

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

In the state motion filed Monday, attorneys for Blankenship and Marshall wrote that DCNR would “stop” enforcing the law Alabama State Parks Rule requiring written authorization to carry a firearm in state parks in early 2023.

“In March of this year, the Alabama Legislature was passed [constitutional carry], which amended numerous firearms provisions in the Alabama Code,” the motion said. “The relevant law here has been ‘eliminated[d] the requirement for a person to obtain a concealed carry permit in order to lawfully carry a handgun.” When the law goes into effect on January 1, 2023, the Department will stop enforcing the rule’s permit language. In late March, the ministry began updating its rules and regulations in light of the law. On November 17, 2022, the Department submitted a Notice of Intended Action to change the rule.”

Per the request for suspension, the state park firearms policy amendment allows lawfully authorized persons to carry handguns without a permit, allows those staying at a state park to possess long guns when they are unloaded and secured, and allows the commissioner , to identify locations where the possession of a firearm is prohibited.

The notice and comment period for the change to the DCNR firearms rule ends on January 9, 2023, and DCNR expects the amended rule to become effective on March 17, 2023.

“If adopted, the changed rule will likely call a lot of that into question [Michum’s] Lawsuit,” attorneys for Blankenship and Marshall State in the state’s motion for a stay. “The plaintiff would likely have to amend their complaint to challenge the revised rule. Although the Plaintiff has informed the Defendants that he is likely to have problems with the amended rule, the Defendants do not believe that it is in the interest of legal economy to proceed with discovering a rule that is likely to be amended.

Mitchum told 1819 News Tuesday, in response to the state’s stay request, that “if the state had any concerns about the ‘legal economy,’ they ‘had more than ample opportunity to address it before my lawsuit was filed.’

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

“Commissioner Blankenship and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall are trying to enforce the new law allowing concealed carry without a permit to save face and avoid public embarrassment,” Mitchum added. “We know this because they have had to deal with this unconstitutional parking rule since March and have only acted now when responding to my lawsuit.”

Mitchum said the state’s stay request “requests permission to continue to unconstitutionally restrict our Second Amendment right to self-defense at non-sensitive government sites.” [Alabama State Parks].”

“They continue to ask the court to stay the proceedings while they seek to replace one unconstitutional rule with another unconstitutional rule,” Mitchum said. “Commissioner Blankenship has no discretion to designate no-gun zones. These government-established gun-free zones pose a threat to law-abiding citizens, and I intend to contest their request to delay legal proceedings. The Supreme Court in Brun, McDonald and Heller Decisions made it clear that when the government imposes rules that Second modification, the state must demonstrate that these restrictions are consistent with the intentions of the Second Amendment when it was adopted by “we the people.” The regulation that will come into force in January 2023 does not do this.”

To contact the author of this story or to comment, send an email [email protected].

Do not miss! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.