The Alabama Sheriffs Association, joined by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama and the Alabama Association of School Resource Officers, held a press conference outside the Alabama Statehouse Tuesday to voice their opposition to a slate of permitless carry — also known as “constitutional carry” — bills currently moving through the Legislature.
The crowd included Alabama county sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys and members of the ACCA.
Over the first few weeks of the regular session, several bills have emerged related to constitutional carry. House Bill 4, sponsored by state Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, would allow Alabamians to carry a pistol without a permit. Senate Bill 1, sponsored by state Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, would repeal certain restrictions for individuals carrying a pistol in a motor vehicle or on certain properties, with or without a concealed pistol permit. Senate Bill 12, sponsored by state Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, would likewise repeal certain restrictions for those possessing a pistol in a motor vehicle or on certain properties with or without a pistol permit.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones described pistol permits as “a tool” that law enforcement has used throughout the state for years to apprehend criminals with illegal weapons.
“We’re not here to create a problem,” Jones said. “We’re here because we’re concerned that one of the tools that we use every day to remove stolen weapons from the street, to remove individuals who should not be on the streets with weapons, and individuals that are committing crimes that have evil intent in our communities, we’re here to keep it from being easier for them to do just that.”
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack said that the legislation would increase the danger to law enforcement and mentioned the state and nationwide increase of officer-involved shootings.
“We are very concerned as public safety administrators and officials,” Mack said. “And we feel that if this legislation were to pass, as it is written, it’s just going to make it a little bit more dangerous for our men and women in law enforcement. That’s why we got to stand together.”
Mack was accompanied by deputy Curtis Sutherland, who was shot in an officer-involved shooting near Fairhope in 2012 that killed fellow sheriff deputy Scott Ward. The shooter was a mental health patient who had been court-ordered to attend mental health facilities on five separate occasions, according to Sutherland.
“We need this law,” Sutherland said. “It’s just one of the tools in our tool kit that helps us maintain what public safety we have.”
Gulf Shores Chief of Police Edward Delmore, who has been in law enforcement for over four decades, said the legislation “will make it more dangerous” for law enforcement officers and citizens.
“No one up here is anti Second Amendment, that’s absolutely not the case,” Delmore said. “Some have said that that can’t be further from the truth. But this bill doesn’t comply with common sense.
Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, said the number and presence of law enforcement officers who attended the press conference was a testament to “exactly what’s at stake.” with this legislation.
“I’m not law enforcement officer, [I’ve] never walked up to a car on a dark street at two o’clock in the morning, but all these men and women here have,” Brasfield said. “They tell me that’s bad for public safety, and I believe them.”
In closing, Derrick Cunningham, the Montgomery County Sheriff and President for the Alabama Sheriff Association, asked Alabamians to contact their state legislator and voice concern over the proposed legislation.
“I’m asking for the public, I’m asking for the business leaders, I’m asking for the clergy, I’m asking for the citizens of Alabama to let your voices be heard,” Cunningham said. “Call your Representative. Call your Senator, and let them know that this is bad, bad legislation and we don’t need in our communities, and we don’t need it in the state of Alabama.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet and consider SB1 and SB12 at 8:30 AM Wednesday.