Sponsored by Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield), HB34 passed unanimously in the House before passing in the Senate 31-0. The bill now heads to Gov. Ivey’s desk.
Under current Alabama law, anyone who fires a gun into an unoccupied school bus or building is guilty of a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Anyone who shoots into a school bus or building with people inside is guilty of a Class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
HB34 would add the following amendments:
- Anyone who shoots or discharges a firearm during school hours or during after-school activity could be punished by a Class B felony.
- Other than the above parameters, anyone who shoots or discharges a firearm on school property would be guilty of a Class C felony.
- If someone is found to be justified in their use of physical force, they would not be guilty.
- Practicing for a performance by an organized group under a 501(c)(3) status, a school-sanctioned event or a competition would also not apply.
- Anyone under the age of 19 would not be in violation of this section.
According to AL.com, Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) responded to a question from Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, saying that while the bill doesn’t include anything about intent, he believes it should be a part of the legislation, using examples of teachers or school resource officers accidentally discharging a gun.
You can read the entirety of the bill and the proposed amendments here.
If signed into law, HB34 will become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by Gov. Ivey.