Alabama Schools Still Off-Limits To Guns

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Alabama's new gun law that went into effect August 1st has caused some confusion among many gun owners and even a few members of law enforcement. Now, school officials are taking steps to make certain there's no confusion about bringing a gun onto a school campus.

The new gun law didn't really change anything with regards to taking a gun onto school grounds, according to spokespersons with several school districts. In fact, at least two school superintendents we spoke with Monday say they're taking action to make certain everyone is aware of the law. The bottom line: you can't legally carry a gun within a thousand feet of a school.

Alabama schools are covered under federal law that establishes school campuses as gun-free zones. The new state law does nothing to change that, they say it's a matter of student safety.

"Many of us are gun owners. But in and around children, there's a lot of uncertainty," according to Dwight Satterfield, Director of Safety and Discipline for Decatur City Schools. Satterfield says the gun ban extends beyond the campus to include many extracurricular activities, such as sporting events.

"I think the biggest concern will be at the athletic venues where sometimes tempers flare, people are upset and it just brings a new element to safety and security at athletic venues," he says. Decatur City, Athens City and Morgan County Schools are all taking steps to put new warnings on every school house door so that everyone who enters will know the schools are still gun-free zones.

Satterfield says the gun ban is for both those who would open carry a weapon in plain view or someone who would conceal the weapon on their person. Important to note, it also applies to school employees who may be under the belief that they can carry a gun to work in their car under the new state law.

So to be clear, according to Satterfield, if you carry a gun in your car, you cannot legally drive onto school property to drop-off or pick-up your child. In fact, you can't take a gun within a thousand feet of a school building. He says this applies to parents as well as school employees.

Satterfield says Decatur City Schools' interpretation of the law comes from the State Board of Education, which also recommended additional signage be installed at each school door and to the entrance at school-sanctioned events.

The State Board of Education sent the same information to all public schools in Alabama. Read the memo from Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent, to all city and county superintendents.

Satterfield says Decatur City Schools' intention is to attempt to enforce that interpretation of the law, that no gun is allowed on campus, by parent or employee, with the only exception being law enforcement.