Section 6 (5) of S.B. 286 (Act 2013 - 283) states that one cannot carry a firearm; "Inside any facility hosting an athletic event not related to or involving firearms which is sponsored by a private or public elementary or secondary school (K-12) or any private or public institution of post secondary education, unless the person has a permit issued under Section 13A-11-75 (a) (1) or recognized under Section 13A-11-85."
On August 23, Alabama Gun Rights member Clay Winguard and his family were attending a football game as law abiding Alabama citizens. Mr. Winguard was accosted in the parking lot by Michael Johnson. Fearing for his life and the safety of his family; Clay Winguard retrieved his licensed and holstered pistol from his trucks console. As Johnson's behavior became more and more hostile; Clay Winguard chose flight over fight to protect his family. He promptly left the parking lot to diffuse the situation.
Winguard had prior altercations with Johnson, who just a few months before attacked him with a baseball bat. Johnson it would be revealed was no choir boy. One would think according to rational common sense thinking that Clay Winguard had acted appropriately. West Blocton law enforcement, however, don't exercise rational common sense thinking.
Johnson was no stranger to the West Blocton Police Department. His rap sheet included a previous conviction and arrest for criminal mischief and harassment. Yet the West Blocton Police chose to turn a blind eye to the criminal history of Johnson in order to pursue a hoplophobic vilification of Clay Winguard.
Following the parking lot altercation Clay Winguard drove straight to the West Blocton Police Department, but found the building unattended and locked. He then proceeded to go to a relatives house. Later that day he was contacted by officers of the WBPD who treated him as the criminal.. WBPD Chief Keith Whatley ordered Clay Winguard's weapon to be confiscated along with his Alabama Concealed Weapons Permit.
Clay Winguard wasted no time and contacted Alabama Gun Rights for help against the WBPD's blatant abuse of power. After an in depth investigation; it was decided that Clay Winguard's actions were lawful. This action was undertaken by Barry Cleland, Director of Operations; George Owens, Director of Legislative Affairs; Joshua Stevens, Executive Training Officer; and Jay Mize, Tuscaloosa County Coordinator. Legal counsel was provided by Springville, AL attorney and AGR member Brian Robertson.
Chief Whatley had made it clear to AGR that he would be seeking a federal indictment against Clay Winguard. He sought to charge him with a frivolous violation of the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act (18 U.S.C. 922). Chief Whatley like many law enforcement officers was ignorant of the fact that this doesn't apply to those in possession of a valid Alabama concealed carry permit.
George Owens, AGR Director of Legislative Affairs, a former federal agent and district attorneys investigator related his exchange with Chief Whatley as being unprofessional and highly combative. Chief Whatley was condescending during the entire exchange. He displayed a lack of understanding of federal law and a total lack of respect for or knowledge of Alabama law.
Bibb County Sheriff Keith Hannah's response was a complete 180's difference. Sheriff Hannah told AGR's George Owens that he was satisfied that Clay Winguard was an appropriate person to be licensed in Alabama. He also stated that it was his determination to return Winguard's permit (which he did). The Bibb County DA's office indicated no interest in prosecuting Winguard.
Chief Whatley met with Bibb County School Board Superintendent Greg Blake regarding Winguard's case. Following this backroom dealings to demonize Clay Winguard; Blake sent a letter of debarment via registered mail. This forbade Clay Winguard from entering any Bibb County school board property.
Clay Winguard was never notified of any such hearing or meeting regarding his rights nor exclusion from school property. He had children attending school and wasn't allowed to enter school property even in an emergency. The school board modified the letter under threat of a lawsuit allowing him exceptions to enter.
Attempts to secure evidence for the defense were met with stonewalling. West Blocton Police Department reports establishing Winguard's reasonable basis for fear were never produced either by incompetence or willful withholding of evidence. There was no witness statements or affidavits disclosed during discovery rumored to testify against Winguard. No witnesses were subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution. Winguard's defense shot holes all in Johnson's version of the events.
Robertson sought to introduce a Motion to Dismiss but the judge issued his opinion that it would be a waste of effort. He deemed Clay Winguard innocent of menacing on October 15. He ordered Winguard's weapon to be released back to him. He took time off from his job to travel to the West Blocton Police Department to pick it up. Chief Whatley in true blue hoplophobic fashion refused to due to an ongoing investigation by the anti-gun Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms -Explosives regarding the GFSZA.
Superintendent Blake has refused to notify his staff to the unlawful restrictions placed upon Winguard. Anti-gun zealots caused a good man to be maligned. Far too many of these elected and appointed officials give lip service only to the Constitution while trampling all over it. Clay Winguard was lawfully exercising his rights as a citizen of Alabama. It's time for the people of Alabama to stand up to the anti-freedom zealots demonizing and vilifying law abiding citizens.
How long stand ye idle, Alabama?