Jones: Bill will protect gun rightsPublished 12:05am Friday, January 4, 2013
Covington County’s state representative has prefiled a bill creating a constitutional amendment that he says will protect Alabamians’ right to bear arms.
Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, said he initially filed the bill on Sept. 26, but it wasn’t put into the system until Dec. 7, a week before the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
“This was not filed in response to the horrible event that took place in Connecticut,” he said. “I’m a lifetime member of the NRA and am very much a big supporter of gun rights and the Second Amendment.”
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Jones said he prefiled the bill after he saw that other states were looking at their constitutions and had discovered that there was not clarity on whether this right should reviewed as strict scrutiny.
Strict scrutiny is the most rigorous form of judicial review.
Among those classes subject to strict scrutiny is a fundamental right, Jones said.
Currently, Jones said he hasn’t found a case in which the state appellate courts have made the right to bear arms “fundamental.” This amendment would clarify this in the state’s constitution and raise the burden of review for the state courts to restrict those rights.
“The added language in this bill makes sure that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right,” he said. “Basically, it’s a legal argument,” he said. “This is just about our state being prepared to fight for what we believe in.”
If approved, the new amendment would add language to the state constitution that would restrict international treaties or laws from impeding on the “fundamental right to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state.”
“There’s been a level of discussion about treaties recently – UN treaties – that language was basically to address that,” he said. “Under the 10th Amendment, states have to have an argument for things that aren’t already addressed.”
Jones said that the language would give Alabama an argument if a treaty were to infringe on the right to bear arms.
Jones said he hears a lot from his constituents about maintaining the Second and 10th amendments.
“I saw this as an opportunity to make our laws stronger,” he said. “Let’s remember that this is something that must be voted on in a statewide referendum. It’s not something we can do.”
The 2013 legislative session begins Feb. 5.