Legal Thursdays – Pistol Permits and Carry Laws

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It’s time for Lawyer Thursdays! Submit your legal questions to any time.  Please put “Lawyer Thursdays” in the subject line as I also receive many emails through my website at www.  You may also call Davidson Law Firm at 685-4822 or come by the office located in Old Towne Helena.  This week I will be addressing a very good question regarding the carrying of pistols in Alabama.

Question:  Can you please explain my rights regarding the carrying of a pistol in the State of Alabama?  Am I allowed to “open carry” a pistol in Alabama?

Answer:   I am a very strong advocate of our Constitutional rights including our rights to keep and bear arms under the 2nd Amendment.  However, there are restrictions to that right that are in the general interests of public safety and welfare.  I think most would agree that we don’t need just anyone strolling around the streets with submachine guns, juggling grenades or towing artillery pieces behind their SUV.  Alabama does have a concealed pistol law requiring you to obtain from the Sheriff’s Department an annual permit to carry a pistol concealed on your person or in your vehicle.  To obtain a permit you must fill out a form, have a valid reason to carry a concealed pistol (i.e. self defense) and pay the fee.  However, the right to carry a pistol/firearm even with a concealed pistol permit isn’t applicable to everyone who wants to pack heat.

Private citizens may not possess a pistol (or firearm) at all …

1.)  in, at or within 1,000 feet of a demonstration at a public place.

2.)  if you have been convicted of a violent crime.

3.)  if you are an addict or drunkard.

4.) on public school property with the intent to do harm.

The question of the legality of “open carry” or “open holster” is always the subject of debate and confusion even among law enforcement.  You may carry an unconcealed pistol on your person so long as you are,

1.) on your own property, or

2.) on public property, and

3.) on foot, and

4.) not intentionally or recklessly acting in a threatening manner.

You can legally take a stroll down the sidewalks of Helena like Wyatt Earp with your hand cannon strapped to your side.  You are far better off obtaining a concealed pistol permit and covering that hog leg with your jacket.  The second you step onto private property you are subject to arrest for carrying a pistol and your permit only applies to a concealed pistol.  In addition, the aggravation of dealing with the inevitable alarmed citizen will not be worth the convenience of carrying “open holster”.

Send your legal questions to Brian Davidson at


Legal Thursday – Hoarders and Arbitration Questions

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Welcome back to Lawyer Thursdays!  Last week went over so well, Hewy is going to allow me to continue to answer your legal questions each week! You can submit your legal question to any time.  You don’t have to have specific problem or issue.  I will be happy to answer those legal questions that you may have been wondering about for years!  Please put “Lawyer Thursdays” in the subject line as I also receive many emails through my website at www.  You may also call Davidson Law Firm at 685-4822 or come by the office located in Old Towne Helena.

Question: My next-door neighbor is a hoarder.  Does Helena have any restrictions for such activity?

Answer: That depends on what your neighbor is hoarding and where.  Helena does have an ordinance restricting junk, trash, and debris from your yard.  If the hoarding activity is inside the residence then the issue becomes more difficult and diverse.  Helena cannot do anything about what’s inside your residence (outside of illegal activity) unless it either becomes a public nuisance or a fire hazard.  For example, 28 dogs barking all hours of the day and night would be a public nuisance while hoarding of stacks of newspaper and magazines would be a fire hazard.  If the hoarding activity is creating a health hazard then your recourse is through the Shelby County Health Department.

Question:  Why is it that every time I want to buy something they make me sign a paper that says I can’t take them to court but instead I have to go a mediator?  Is this just a State of Alabama thing or does this occur in other states?

Answer:   I could write a whole book on this issue.  What you are referring to are arbitration agreements that exist nationwide and really started to encroach into our daily lives in the mid to late 1980’s.  Arbitration is legally binding mediation where the parties submit their arguments and evidence to a mutually agreed upon or Court appointed Arbitrator (who you have to pay in whole or in part) who will then decide the case.  There are no rights to appeal and there are no requirements that the Arbitrator even has to apply the law.

The Federal Arbitration Act was first passed by Congress in 1925 to encourage and allow businesses to agree to resolve disputes without the Court system.  However, as we all know, arbitration has now creeped into every aspect of consumer transactions and now employment agreements as well.  In essence, in exchange for the privilege of purchasing that car, house, motorcycle, boat, mobile home, mouse trap, or pack of gum you are also agreeing to the waiver of your rights under the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution which states,

“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”

The legislature of Alabama specifically prohibits arbitration. Ala. Code § 8-1-41(3) (1975).  However, the Federal Arbitration Act preempts our State law in almost every circumstance thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision expanding the scope of the Commerce Clause in Allied-Bruce Terminix Companies v. Dobson, 513 U.S. 265 (1995).  Under Dobson, there doesn’t seem to be any activity or transaction that does not affect interstate commerce bringing in the preemptive Federal laws.

Send your legal questions to Brian Davidson at

Lawyer Thursdays – Neighbors, On-Line Wills & Annexation

Welcome to the first edition of Lawyer Thursdays!  Thank you to Helena’s own Hewy Nosleep for allowing the Davidson Law Firm to answer your legal questions on his daily blog.  No Sleep in Helena Alabama : The Events of Helena Alabama: Groundhog, Giving and Legal Thursday is the link to his blog and this edition.  There were some really great legal questions asked.  You can submit your legal question to any time.  Please put “Lawyer Thursdays” in the subject line as I also receive many emails through my website at www.  You may also call Davidson Law Firm at 685-4822 or come by the office located in Old Towne Helena.  Without further ado:

Question: My neighbor’s across the street have visitors who park on the sidewalk next to my house.  They drive across my yard at the edge of the street where the sidewalk ends leaving ruts.  What can I do?

Answer:  Parking on the street is a violation of Helena’s Municipal Ordinances and is a typical ordinance violation in most municipalities.  A simple call to the Helena Police Department (663-6499 – do not call 911 for this type of problem) will get the offender a citation and a date with us at Municipal Court.  I would have to check our ordinances to be sure but parking on and/or blocking a sidewalk is most likely not legal either.  There are several other legal options at your disposal as well.  Damaging your property is actionable both civilly and criminally.  The civil action would be a Small Claims Court case for the cost to repair the damage.  Criminal actions would include trespass and destruction of property.  You should write down a description of the vehicle(s) and the tag number(s).  My suggestion is that you place a large, decorative stone, planter or tree at the corner of your property so that they cannot drive across the edge of your lawn.


Question:  Are online, do-it-yourself wills a good thing?  Will they hold up in Court?

Answer:  No, I do not believe that online, do-it-yourself wills or any other do-it-yourself legal documents are good ideas.  They might hold up in Court.  Then again, it is far better sit down with a local, knowledgeable attorney to draft that document and be certain that it meets all of the legal requirements and all of your legal needs? The online legal documents that I have seen (as well as the $200.00 divorces) have been in the context of litigation to either invalidate the document or to fix the document.  That $70.00 will you did suddenly becomes a $10,000.00 will contest for your heirs because the legal requirements were not met or it was not executed properly.  That $200.00 uncontested divorce now becomes a $10,000.00 fight because the original decree didn’t adequately address all of the issues that will eventually arise.  It is far better to pay the $300.00 for a professionally drafted will or $750.00 (at the Davidson Law Firm) for that uncontested divorce than to pay the price in the end.


Question: I would like to know how to get our Helena subdivision that is located in Jefferson County annexed into Shelby County.

Answer: Counties cannot annex land of the county next door as that property already falls within the legal domain of another county.  Similarly, Helena could not annex the rest of Port South or Apache Ridge subdivisions because they are already part of Alabaster.  The Alabama Legislature has to vote to approve the very expensive redrawing of county lines and it is subject to a vote of the entire State.