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Firearms Committee holds public hearing on a permit-less carry

Law Enforcement Professional Man with Firearm Weapon

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Thursday, November 30, 2017, the Commission on 21st Century Firearms Laws met for the third time to review the state of Alabama’s laws on firearms and consider possible legislation in the 2018 regular legislative session.

In the last Legislative Session, state Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, introduced a bill that would give every adult Alabamian, who is allowed to possess firearms, the right to carry their firearms concealed without having to purchase a concealed carry permit from their county’s Sheriff Department.  The bill passed the Senate but was buried in a subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee. Allen has re-introduced his bill for the 2018 session as Senate Bill 3.

Committee Chairman state Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, said, “The more people I talk to the more issues that I find.”

Farley distributed a 122 page document with information that the group has gathered on permit-less carry and Alabama’s gun laws to the press in attendance and interested groups.

It was reported to the Committee that currently Probate Judges in 18 of Alabama’s 67 counties are not sending updates on people that have been committed to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for them to be added to the list of people not allowed to purchase guns.  Two probate judges are refusing to send in that information.

The task force then heard from people who were there to comment on SB3.

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Ann Leader said that she was from Auburn and is with the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.  Leader said that the state has had a concealed carry permit requirement on the books since 1936.  “We ask this commission to not repeal.”  Leader said that in Arizona since they passed permit-less carry aggravated assaults with a firearm has increased 44 percent.  While murders may not have gone up both Alaska and Wyoming rank first and fourth for firearm deaths per capita.  You should not roll back the permit requirement.  Polling shows that Alabamians overwhelmingly support the permit requirement.  Alabama should require a background check on all sales.  Alabama has the third highest rate of overall firearm deaths (murder, accidents, and suicides).  54 percent of mass shooters have a history of domestic violence.  “We know that where there are more guns there are more gun deaths.”

“We have Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery,” Leader said. “Municipalities should be allowed to set their own gun laws.  What works for rural areas will not work for urban areas. We know that more guns leads to more gun deaths.”

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego said, “I am in opposition of the bill.  Currently, we have an opportunity to ‘vette’ every person carrying a permit.  We have a problem with mental health in this state.  From our call history we know who those people are.  The serious ones we report to our Probate judges.  The others we know and should be able to deny a concealed carry permit to.  I would like to stand on the record.  I have been talking to Rep. Farley and he has some interesting ideas.  I am not an anti-gun person but we have a duty to offer a quality of life to our citizens.”

Sheriff Samaniego said that his county gets $2.2 million a year toward the bettering of my officers from the sale of concealed carry permits.  That money is used to purchase equipment and pay for training of my officers.  I am able to partner with the County Commission to buy the cars.  This is public money that is audited every other year.  It allows for a good partnership between the county commission and the sheriff’s office.

NRA Representative Art Thomm said you mentioned that there are already laws on the books to keep those people from having guns; but there are already increased penalties when they are caught with a gun especially when they are committing a crime.

In each of the 12 states the twelves state that have passed permit-less carry the money has increased substantially from the sale of permits.  In Arizona revenues have tripled.  I would hope to have national reciprocity.  To have reciprocity you have to have a permit.  “I believe that if you should not have a gun you should not have a gun.”

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America’s Jennifer Brooks said, “I am a resident of Auburn and a professor where I teach history.  I am here to speak against guns on campus.”

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Brooks said the student population is indulgent in drinking and drug use and are not engaged in responsible behaviors.  Letting them carry guns on campus creates a situation of great fear.  I have had to call police to have a student move out of my office.  It took 15 minutes from them to come.  I called police twice on a colleague who was having a mental breakdown.  It took aiuthorities15 minutes to respond.  I have encountered no faculty who is in favor of this.  “I will not be able to meet with students in my office alone if this passes  I will have to meet in a public place where other people are around.”

The head of the Alabama Sheriffs Association Bobby Timmons said I have been head of the sheriff’s association for 43 years.  When I served in the legislature we passed a lot of good legislation.  The only way that we can continue to protect the people of Alabama is to keep the permit requirement.  The revenue bases are a very important thing for us. If the permit requirement has been repealed, it would have to be replaced with tax dollars.

Shanna Chamblee with Alabama Gun Rights asked if Timmons and the Sheriffs could support the legislation if they were able to replace the lost revenue

Timmoms said that they would consider that.

Chairman Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, said that police use the concealed carry permit requirement as a tool that we to find reasons to arrest people and ue that to learn more about a suspect.

Adam Vincent with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in Montgomery said, “My best friend took his own life in Huntington College here in Montgomery I don’t think we should be making this any easier.”

Coffee County Sheriff Dave Sutton said, “I am here for keeping the concealed carry permit because it is our first and last line of defense.”  “I am the incoming President of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association.  Guns are coming up from Florida.  Gun are going to Florida from Alabama.  A lot of guns are sold day and night out of the trunks of cars.  We have got to put sheriff’s discretion back into the law.  We have got to put some teeth back into that NICS check

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“Put that discretion back in there so that I and the other 66 sheriffs have that ability to say you are not getting a gun permit today.”  “I have been shot twice and it is not a pleasant thing.”

“I am glad to see that head of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, Bobby Timmons, seems willing to sit down and discuss potential legislative measures to make up for the association’s feared funding shortfall so that he may support Constitutional Carry,” Chamblee said.

“We recognize that many in attendance expressed fears regarding not only permitless Carry, but Carry in general; we believe that the facts bear out that as gun ownership has increased, crime has decreased.”

Chamblee told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The right to bear arms in Alabama is a Constitutionally protected Fundamental right subject to strict scrutiny. We dare defend our rights!  The work to pass Constitutional Carry in Alabama is not going away.”

Shanna Chamblee is the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs Alabama Gun Rights Inc.

The National Rifle Association’s Art Thomm said, “With the head of the Alabama Sheriff’s Associations statement that he ‘may be in favor of the bill’ should they find other means of funding, it is CLEAR that this is about money. Money that forces Alabamians to pay for their rights”.

Farley said that the four permit-less states most similar to Alabama are: Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Kansas

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The next meeting of the committee will be Thursday, Dec. 21.

The 2018 Alabama legislative session begins on Jan. 9, 2018.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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