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Alabama’s gun law debate has left reality

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

There are times when I wonder if this is real life, or if, instead, there’s a fairly significant portion of the country that’s pulling a prank on the rest of us.

You know, just to see what we’ll do, and then laugh at our reactions to the absurdity.

One of those moments occurred this morning. In a place where many other such moments have occurred – the Alabama State House.

At a task force hearing on “21st century gun laws” – because while we might be 19th century on a human rights, health care, civil rights and education laws, we want to be cutting edge on guns – there was a roundtable discussion between lawmakers and other interested parties, including several folks representing law enforcement.

To be clear, the entire purpose for this thing is to serve as a secret passageway that allows lawmakers to pass a ridiculous bill that removes the requirements to have a permit to carry a concealed firearm. The reason lawmakers need this secret passageway is because law enforcement agencies are dead set against it, and they are adamant that it’s both an officer safety and public safety problem.

Which would ordinarily be enough to kill it. Because Republicans looooove them some po-lice. Seriously, just ask one of them during a discussion about anthem protests.

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They, of course, don’t love them so much when it comes time to pay them or protect their retirement money or provide them proper equipment.

Or when the NRA boys are standing there with big bags of cash.

And that has proven to be quite a problem for GOP lawmakers in this one. Which is why, I suppose, that while police chiefs, sheriffs and the Alabama Department of Mental Health each got one seat at the roundtable today, the NRA got two.

And they did not disappoint.

This was the actual argument the two NRA guys made (and this is where I began questioning if it was all a joke): They noted, with straight faces, that the bill wouldn’t alter the requirements for receiving a concealed carry permit at all, it simply removed the part that made the permit mandatory.

I saw a police chief chuckle at that one. Do you have any idea how stupid something has to be – after years of hearing why-I-was-speeding stories – to make a chief chuckle?

But once the task force discussion attained that level of stupid, it stayed there, starting with two more guns rights advocates who argued passionately about not taking their guns away. Which, of course, was nowhere in the ballpark of the discussion.

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And then came Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, who’s running for Congress against Mo Brooks, so there’s no chance he’s going to alienate the NRA. Instead, Holtzclaw launches into this ridiculous story about this time when he was in the military and in Mogadishu.

Long story short: they were confiscating all firearms and came to the horrible realization that they were taking guns from good guys too.

It’s nonsense, and in no way applicable since no one was even remotely discussing taking away anyone’s guns, but it did allow Holtzclaw to demonstrate in a public forum that he’s both a veteran and a supporter of whatever absurdly dangerous position the NRA wants him to support. You’re toast, Mo.

As for the actual question at hand – whether to approve permit-less carry – that’s clearly a no. And all any sane individual would have to do was hear the department of mental health’s representative on the panel talk about the various checks sheriffs perform before granting a concealed carry permit.

They look into a number of different things, including whether the permit seeker was ever acquitted of a crime due to mental deficiencies.

Laws like that matter. They keep us safe. They keep law enforcement officers safe.

In the real world, we shouldn’t need a task force to determine that.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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