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Thread: Alabama Rest Stop "No Weapons" Signs

  1. #1
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    Alabama Rest Stop "No Weapons" Signs

    It appears that some bureaucrat in Alabama has decided to post Alabamans' rest stops with signs that are toxic to the second amendment and Alabama law. As reported on opencarry.org, the signs say "No weapons beyond this point".


    It’s the AL rest stop eastbound I-10 @ AL/ MS line, about 15 miles west of Mobile.

    According to Skidmark at opencarry.org, rest stops are not listed as prohibited places for possessing weapons.

    Alabama's preemption law was strengthened in 2013, as part of a package of second amendment friendly reforms.

    Arizona, now known as one of the states most respectful of second amendment rights, had a similar problem with illegal signage of rest stops in the 1990's.

    It took activism by Arizona gun owners to have the signs removed. An open carry picnic at the Sacaton rest stop on I-10 near Tucson was organized in 1998. Rick Destephens, who was there, writes about it:

    Have you noticed that there are no longer any signs at Arizona rest stops that read, "Keep all weapons in your vehicle"? That was Brassroots and S.A.F.E. combine effort back in 1998. We staged a forty-man protest at the Sacaton rest stop and five TV cameras showed up. We then got three hours of time on Bob Mohan's show on KFYI. That resulted in Hull's, ADOT's and DPS's phones melting down for two weeks. The signs came down later that month.


    The picture below is reported to have been on the rest stop east of Opelika off I-85.

    Picture courtesy of Backwoods Engineer at BackwoodsEngineer.com

    Alabama law specifically forbids the "Possession of firearms by persons participating in, attending, etc., demonstrations at public places." So a picnic at an Alabama rest stop would have to be careful not to fall under this statute, or be prepared to test the law in court.

    It is clear that Alabama does not want the exercise of the first and second amendments to occur at the same time. This is a violation of constitutional rights, and may be an opportunity for further reform. The open carry of firearms is clearly a form of political speech.

    I sent an email to aldotinfo@dot.state.al.us on January 9th, 2014, Here are the questions that I asked:

    1. Were the signs put up recently?

    2. Were the signs authorized, and if so, by who or what agency?

    3. What legal authority exists for putting up the signs?

    I have not received a reply from the Alabama Department of Transportation. Perhaps residents of Alabama would have better luck. If you obtain answers to the above questions, I would like to know.

    ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
    Link to Gun Watch

    Three pictures at the link:

    http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/2014/01...est-stops.html

  2. #2
    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Pets and guns.....well, what a surprise.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Griz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccwinstructor View Post
    The open carry of firearms is clearly a form of political speech.
    I think it's more a form of protection.

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    From what I understand the signs at rest stops were put up by the ALDPS.
    AGR is working on this and a number of other places that have put up signs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    To answer the OP questions.
    Yes, ALDPS, and none.


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    Gun Free Zones at Alabama Rest Stops

    I saw that very one tonight.

    The rest stops are under the control of the Alabama Dept. of Transportation. Its director is an appointee of the Gov., who signed the new firearms law. People tend to ignore emails. Here is his contact info:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	john_cooper.JPG 
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Size:	8.4 KB 
ID:	11165
    John R. Cooper became Alabama’s Transportation Director effective January 17, 2011, with the beginning of Governor Robert Bentley’s Administration. Cooper comes out of retirement to head the Alabama Department of Transportation. His
    Phone Number is 334-242-6776.

    Judge Rusty Johnston
    Mobile, Alabama

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    So, who is responsible the Alabamd DPS, or the DOT?

    Quote Originally Posted by Judge_Johnston View Post
    I saw that very one tonight.

    The rest stops are under the control of the Alabama Dept. of Transportation. Its director is an appointee of the Gov., who signed the new firearms law. People tend to ignore emails. Here is his contact info:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	john_cooper.JPG 
Views:	152 
Size:	8.4 KB 
ID:	11165
    John R. Cooper became Alabama’s Transportation Director effective January 17, 2011, with the beginning of Governor Robert Bentley’s Administration. Cooper comes out of retirement to head the Alabama Department of Transportation. His
    Phone Number is 334-242-6776.

    Judge Rusty Johnston
    Mobile, Alabama
    I have not had any luck finding out for certain. If DOT controls the rest stops, then they could take down the signs. If DPS put them up, that would be very interesting.

  8. #8
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    Howdy.

    Thanks for sharing Arizona's story about the Sacaton Rest Stop Protest. It's hard to believe it was that long ago.

    The key to the success of that protest was to set up the chess board. Someone saw the rest stop sign and posted it on a listserv. Others went to nearby rest stops to confirm. A few folks called and/or e-mailed various government offices, ADOT, DPS, The Governor, etc. Some of it was fact-finding. Some of it was an effort to notify them that they had no authority under the law to do this so that they might take the signs down. This might sound naive, but it occasionally works, and at the very least puts them on notice. They wouldn't budge, despite having nominally pro-RKBA officials in place. That they were nominally pro-gun, and had to answer to their political associates (say, the very pro-gun Arizona Speaker of the House) and the members who attend their Legislative District meetings would eventually come into play.

    As we probed, we tried to inform our peeps to get them ready for what might be ahead. The fulcrum came in the form of a letter from one of the legal-eagles at ADOT. He foolishly referred to his agency's property rights "as a private property owner." While that was puzzling and even amusing to me, it got the people at the County Libertarian Party majorly miffed. The internet wasn't particularly huge back then (I still had a dial-up modem) so we had to do the old-fashioned phone call to favored press (print, radio, and TV).

    It is very important to have fun in your activism and do what you feel comfortable doing. We had been here before with forcing government building to obey ARS 13-3102(a)(10) and check/store the firearms of visitors. We had also dealt with gun buy-backs in similar weighs. We decided to have an Open-Carry (and maybe concealed, ya never know) Rest Stop Weenie Roast at the Sacaton rest stop -- because it is mid-way between metro Phoenix and Tucson (home of the now defunk www.brassroots.org -- see also www.azcdl.org ). It was also scheduled after an IDPA 3-gun match in south Phoenix so that made it really convenient for some.

    We told the press, ADOT, the Guv, the AG, and even the Arizona Department of Public Safety (highway patrol) who would have jurisdiction.

    One of the DPS upper brass called me up just a few days before the event to see what we were up to. He asked me if I was the leader? My response was that we are leaderless and that he might find a few people traveling to Tucson that day who might stop at a rest stop mid-way for a weenie roast. He said he wanted to make sure everyone was safe. I asked him what he wanted on his hot dog? He wanted mustard, but wondered if there would be any coffee there? I assured him there would be.

    I pulled into the rest stop and the first few vehicles I saw were TV station trucks. I suspect they were looking for some sort of confrontation. They didn't get any. Lots of talk about guns, sports, politics -- after an hour or so we packed up our grills and headed home.

    There was a bit of buzz, but nothing too overwhelming for the bureaucrats to handle. Friendly legislators found out about it for the first time via TV, e-mail links, and phone calls. But the big turn came when, for some reason, KFYI evening host (I think it was Bob Mohan) gave us not just a 10 or 20-minute segment, he gave us all three hours, with his switchboard lighting up.

    That's when we reached critical mass. I was one of the last callers of the mid-hour mark. He asked me, "What should we do?" I told everyone who was in earshot of this #1-rated radio show: "Call of the Governor, DPS, and ADOT and melt their phone lines).

    And they did.

    The Governor announced about two-weeks later that the signs would come down, and week by week by month by month, they were removed.

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