John David Murphy wore his holstered 9 mm handgun and two ammunition magazines into First United Methodist Church of Alabaster when he went to vote in the Republican primary.
The church, like other precincts, had a sign in the door saying firearms are prohibited. But Murphy told a poll worker that his constitutional right to openly carry a weapon trumps a state law allowing guns in public places unless a sign is posted.
A poll worker called a Shelby County deputy, who made Murphy put the gun in his truck outside before voting. City police arrived as a precaution and left after Murphy left the polling place.
Several poll volunteers and voters expressed misgivings about someone being armed inside a precinct, but Murphy said he was going to complain to county leaders about his treatment.
"Them being freaked out doesn't trump my right to open carry," said Murphy, who described himself as a member of Alabama Gun Rights, an advocacy group.
In Chambers County, east of Montgomery on the Georgia line, the sheriff's department posted a message on its Facebook page saying "no weapons" signs had been removed from precincts following complaints after the sheriff and probate judge determined a new state firearms law did not apply to polling places.
The National Rifle Association, while a zealous supporter of gun owners' rights, has discouraged actions like Murphy's in the state of Texas, where gun rights advocates have recently shown their support for "open carry" gun rights by bringing military-style assault rifles into businesses and public buildings.
The NRA has said such demonstrations have "crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness."
"Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners," the NRA said in a statement posted on its website Friday.
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