Gun law changes lead to debates, confusion in Shoals - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Gun law changes lead to debates, confusion in Shoals

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Businesses must choose whether to allow people with guns on premises. Businesses must choose whether to allow people with guns on premises.

Alabama's new gun laws have both owners of guns and businesses asking many questions. They want answers about their rights when it comes to carrying a firearm in public.

The topic sparked heated debate online between employees concerned about safety and gun owners who promised to boycott any business that bans weapons.

The owner of one of the oldest family-owned businesses in Florence said when it comes to the new laws, they trust the community to use common sense if they choose to have a weapon. Tom Strawm's family has owned Coleman Cleaners for nearly 70 years. 

Strawm is not putting up a sign that bars people from bringing a gun into the store. "We don't feel that it's necessary. I would just trust that the community and our customers that have been coming in here for years to use good judgment," he said.

It's that sort of idea that has Second Amendment activist Keith Montgomery happy to hear. Montgomery started a Facebook group called Shoals Second Amendment. It's a group designed to help educate fellow community members on the state's gun laws.

"As a private business owner you can restrict entrance, but I want them to know that a sign is not going to stop someone from carrying a gun," said Montgomery. "The only person they're going to stop is people that are lawfully carrying. No crime will be deterred."

Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said that business owners must decide if guns are allowed on their property. "What this law has done is highlighted private property owners' rights," Tyler said.

"As you can imagine, there are some businesses concerned about allowing open-carry folks in their businesses," Tyler continued. "The flip side of that is, you have second amendment folks saying ‘we don't want to go to a business that doesn't allow.'

"Legislature has created a situation for us that is very confusing, so we're just trying to provide some sort of guidance as to how we're going to enforce and approach it."

Two agencies in the Shoals are planning to address the laws Thursday night. Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. at the Parkway Auction Building on US 72 in Elgin.

Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan will meet with business owners at 7 p.m. at Tuscumbia City Hall.

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