The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 11, 2013

Schools to post signs banning guns

Following new state gun law

When Athens parents drop off their children at school or football fans file into Golden Eagle Stadium later this month, they will encounter a different type of sign from the familiar back-to-school greetings and black-and-gold spirit banners.

The Athens school district is following a recommendation from the state’s top school official to post signs at all school entrances. Dr. Tommy Bice, superintendent of the Alabama State Department of Education, suggested in a letter that “Firearms Prohibited” signage could remind students, employees and visitors that existing policies regarding firearms on campus have not changed since Alabama’s new gun law took effect Aug. 1.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Bice sent a letter earlier this week to city and county school officials statewide advising school systems to enforce existing policies that ban guns and other weapons on school-owned property.

Athens Superintendent Trey Holladay said the school system “will be posting at all entrances to our campuses and venues,” including the football stadium and the school system’s seven school campuses.

In his letter, Bice said students and employees who violate the policy are subject to disciplinary action.

The new state law allows employees to keep an unloaded gun in their car while at work without a permit, even if an employer prohibits firearms on-site. Employers still maintain the right to decide whether someone can openly carry a firearm on their premises.

Federal law says school properties are gun-free zones, even if a person has a conceal carry permit. Authorized personnel such as police officers and school resource officers will continue to be permitted to carry firearms.

Bice said others who bring firearms on a campus should be asked to leave the property, and people refusing to leave when asked could be charged with criminal trespass.

Alabama law says first-degree criminal trespassing occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling. The Class A misdemeanor carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $6,000 maximum fine.


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