State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) has pre-filed a bill to create criminal punishments for failing to declare the presence of a weapon to law enforcement.

If passed, House Bill 12 (HB12) would create new penalties for those who fail to inform law enforcement of the presence of a firearm.

Permitless carry, also called constitutional carry, was among the more contentious issues during the 2022 regular legislative session.

House Bill 272 (HB272) by State Rep. Shane Stringer (R–Citronelle) became the spearhead bill for permitless carry that passed the legislature. It was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey in March 2022 and went into effect on Jan. 1.

The law was amended several times throughout the legislative process, with many provisions added to address opponents' concerns both in and outside the legislature.

The law created an obligation for a citizen to inform a law enforcement officer of the presence of a firearm on their person or in their vehicle, often called a "duty to declare." Previously, citizens had no legal duty to inform police of the presence of a firearm.

Law enforcement must ask a person before they would be legally obligated to respond. The law does not compel anyone to admit to the presence of a firearm without first being questioned by police.

The law also created a system where an officer may relieve a person of their weapon if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" that the person has committed or is planning to commit a crime. The officer may also relieve a person of their weapon if the person poses a threat to themselves, the officer or the public. 

The duty to declare section did not initially come with stipulations or legal punishment for violations.

HB12 would make it a class A misdemeanor to fail to abide by the duty to declare statute within the law.

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious classifications of non-felony crimes. They carry a potential punishment of one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000.

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