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Hoover mall shooting underlines gray area in Alabama gun law

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - In the confused aftermath of the mistaken fatal shooting at the Galleria mall in Hoover on Thanksgiving, there have been questions raised about Emantic Bradford Jr.’s possession of a gun that night.

A study found in 2017 there were more than 755,000 concealed carry permits in Alabama. That’s about 15 percent of the state’s population.

Bradford’s father says his son was one of those legally permitted to carry a gun in Alabama.

Alabama law also allows the use of deadly force in self-defense, like in an active shooter situation.

But the Hoover Police Department says it was Bradford’s holding a gun that led to him being shot. Police initially said Bradford “brandished” a gun, but have since moved away from that term.

The facts of the incident are hotly disputed and Bradford’s family is asking for police to release any related video from the scene.

It turns out guns are banned from the Galleria mall in Hoover, and from Parkway Place in Huntsville.

Huntsville Police Department spokesman Lt. Michael Johnson said the law allows business owners to decided who can access their business.

“Private businesses and private property owners can restrict who comes on their property in whatever manner they’d like,” he said.

But business firearms bans don’t have much teeth under Alabama law when a concealed carry permit is involved. There is no gun-related charge for bringing a gun into a private business.

“So, if they want to restrict guns, they can restrict people that bring guns on their property,” Johnson said. “It wouldn’t matter if the possession of the gun was legal, for instance if you have a permit, you have legal possession of the weapon.”

A business can ask you to leave your gun outside.

“If they put a sign up requesting you not to come on their property with a gun, they in turn have the ability to refuse their service and call police and say, ‘We don’t want them on our property,’” Johnson said.

If a gun owner with a carrying permit ignores the request, he could a face a misdemeanor trespassing charge, but that’s about it.

We asked the Alabama Attorney General’s office today, “If I bring a permitted gun to a mall, that asks me not to, am I facing a gun charge?

A spokesman told us, “We’re not allowed to comment.”

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