By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
The good news, as reported by The Alabama Political Reporter’s Brandon Moseley Monday, is there are only four more days in this year’s Legislative Session. That down to three now.
Legislative sessions usually can’t end fast enough, especially with some of the proposals that turn up. The General Fund and education budgets – the Legislature’s primary responsibility – are basically in the can.
One issue I’ve been watching the whole Session with interest is SB24, the so-called Gun Bill. Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), it would allow anybody qualified to have a gun to be able to carry it concealed without buying a gun permit from their local sheriff.
The State Sheriff’s association strongly opposed the bill. Me, too, in fact.
Moseley reports the Gun Bill is bogged down in the House after passing the Senate.
“The Alabama House of Representatives completely repudiated the gun lobby,” over the bill, writes Moseley. “Alabama Gun Rights (AGR), the National Rifleman’s Association (NRA), and Bamacarry have all expended tremendous energy on passing SB24 and the House leadership has not budged. SB24 appears dead for this Session.”
But dear readers, I wish you to know I can be persuaded differently. That happened late last month when APR editor in chief Bill Britt wrote a column, appropriately titled “Separating fact from fiction about ‘Gun Bill.’”
My boss convinced me.
Using statistics and information compiled in other states that have similar bills, Britt pointed out that the dangers to Law Enforcement with a concealed carry law are simply not borne out in those other states.
The Gun Bill is not groundbreaking Legislation, Britt points out. “States as diverse as Vermont and Wyoming have passed similar bills,” writes Britt, who notes a dozen states including those also have gun carry bills.
And where studies have been done, there really is no increase in gun violence.
Most of us may agree that gun violence is bad enough already. And I can understand that a Law Enforcement officer approaching a car just pulled over may have some hesitation.
But those are emotional responses. The statistics just don’t support the conclusion.
I still believe concealed carry should be limited; as a college professor, for example, I don’t like the idea of my students carrying concealed (or unconcealed, for that matter) weapons into my classroom. They shouldn’t be allowed in the galleries of our courts. And yes, I understand why they are unacceptable even inside the State House, though the irony is hard to overlook.
I believe firmly we’ve got to get a handle, somehow, on keeping access to weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally ill or criminals.
Generally, though, I’m not against a person’s Second Amendment right to carry a gun, if he or she is so disposed. Our gun culture in this country is simply not going to change except over a long, long period of time.
Now I’m not saying that I’ll be bothered if SB24 is, in fact, dead, as Moseley reports. Neither, though, would I be horrified if it was somehow resurrected and passed.
Surely, though, we must approach our gun arguments, both for and against gun issues, with common sense, facts, and not simply our feelings.
APR’s Bill Britt did that, and it changed my mind, on this issue at least.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]