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Bill holding parents liable for gun brought to school by child advances in committee

MONTGOMERY, Ala, – After some deliberation, a bill that could impose criminal charges on parents whose children bring a firearm to school was given a favorable report in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, House Bill 123 would see a parent “that does not reasonably secure their firearm” charged with a Class A misdemeanor were their child to bring that firearm onto public school property. 

The original form of the bill had listed the penalty as being a Class C felony. However, Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, proposed an amendment to reduce the charge to a Class A misdemeanor, an amendment that was ultimately approved.

Rep. David Standridge, R-Hayden, expressed concerns with the bill, and recounted a personal incident involving a child bringing a firearm on school grounds when he was a member of a school board.

“We had a situation where a student accidentally left his hunting gun in his vehicle, and then we had to address it at the school board; in those kinds of situations, would that parent then be subject to a criminal charge?” Standridge asked.

“Yes,” Drummond answered, arguing that the child “is still under the supervision of the parent, he’s the responsibility of the parent.”

Standridge argued that being from a rural county, and around “a lot of teenagers that hunt” who “have permission from their parents” to carry firearms, he had reservations about the bill.

Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, had concerns too and suggested he may be more favorable to a bill that did not hold parents criminally liable until a firearm was actually discharged on school grounds.

“I think that we need to do everything that we can to protect not only our children, but also the campuses and those faculty members.”” Drummond said. 

Stringer said he agreed with her sentiment, but that he still held concerns over the bill “causing some unintended victims.”

Interjecting before the bill went to a roll call vote, England said that the bill was in line with a number of other existing laws that hold parents criminally viable for their children’s behavior, and that such a bill was “not a foreign concept.”

“This isn’t controversial, we ascribe relevant responsibilities to parents when they have children because if they go out and commit a crime, or they don’t go to school,” England said.

Ultimately, the bill passed the Judiciary Committee with a vote of 8-3, with Reps. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, Standridge and Stringer voting against it. Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-Valley Grande, abstained.

England has introduced his own gun safety bills, one of which is House Bill 28 to limit those allowed to carry firearms on school grounds to law enforcement and school resource officers. First reviewed in the same committee last month, that bill is still awaiting a vote.


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