Alabama Sheriffs Association (ASA) director Robert 'Bobby' Timmons is standing by his criticism of the Constitutional carry bills set to be debated in the Alabama legislature, even going so far as to say he would support amending the United States Constitution.
Timmons has claimed several times that the Second Amendment was not written to give citizens the right to carry a weapon in a concealed fashion, saying that the amendment was only written to allow citizens to have weapons to defend their homes.
Given his interpretation of the Second Amendment, 1819 News asked Timmons if ASA would support amending the Constitution to limit the Second Amendment to the possession of firearms only for the defense of a person's home.
"Oh yeah," Timmons said. "I'd be in favor of that. But, I mean, it would never get passed."
According to Timmons, the ASA is working with Mom's Demand Action - which bills itself as a "grassroots movement" that fights for more restrictive gun laws - to fight against Constitutional carry laws that have been introduced into the current session of the Alabama legislature. "Constitutional carry" is a term used to describe legislation that would allow citizens to legally carry handguns without having to purchase a permit from their local Sheriff's office.
Three bills pre-filed in the Alabama House and Senate would legalize permitless or “Constitutional Carry” in the state. Rep. Andrew Sorell (R) pre-filed House Bill 44 (HB44), along with a coalition of 38 Republicans. The bill would eliminate the need for a person to obtain a concealed carry permit in order to carry a pistol. It would also repeal and revise certain restrictions on the carrying or possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle or on certain property or locations.
Rep. Shane Stringer (R) and Rep. Proncey Robertson (R) pre-filed House Bill 6 (HB6). Sen. Tim Melson filed an identical companion bill in the Senate (SB12). These two bills would also allow for “permitless carry” and would create a process for the return of seized pistols.
All three bills would leave the current concealed carry permitting system in place for Alabamans who want to obtain a license in order to carry concealed in states with CCDW reciprocity with Alabama.
When asked why the Supreme Court had not defined the Second Amendment as narrowly as he does, Timmons acknowledged it was his own ideology.
"I disagree with them (the Supreme Court)," Timmons said. "They need to cite the date when the Second Amendment was codified to be part of the Constitution. See how many cars they had driving around? How many roads did they have? How many motorcycles did they have? When the Constitution was written, there was no reason to include stuff about roads and cars. It’s not written that way, but it's just pure common sense.”
Last week, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) released a series of statements that criticized the ASA for its opposition to Constitutional carry. Timmons said the NAGR is just trying to use the issue as a fundraising method.
"Dudley (NAGR Director Dudley Brown) and them are trying to make this about money," Timmons said. ‘'They're saying [pistol permits] are a revenue stream. Let me tell you, no sheriff in the whole US has been elected to raise money."
Integral to Timmons's argument is his insistence that pistol permits are matters of public safety, making repeated comparisons to driver's licenses.
"Absolutely without question for public safety just like a driver's license, you need a driver's license,” said Timmons. “If you don't have a license, you can't drive. If you don't have a permit, you can't carry a concealed gun."
When asked if permits were a significant revenue stream for Alabama Sheriffs, Timmons conceded this was true, but stressed that any such revenue would come from permits or taxes on the public.
"It buys ammo, vehicles, and bulletproof vests," Timmons said. "If you get rid of the permits, the taxpayers will have to pick up the bill."
In November, sheriffs in Jefferson, Mobile and St. Clair Counties told 1819 News they had similar concerns to Constitutional or permitless carry laws.
Sheriffs in the state already receive state funding for their operations, but Timmons suggests that the current budget is insufficient to provide them with appropriate equipment.
"You have your budget to operate on, but you run out of money every once in a while,” said Timmons.
Timmons insists that the current rules requiring background checks when purchasing a firearm are insufficient to prevent illegal acquisition. However, he did not give any reason for that assertion other than the laws governing firearm sales are federal laws.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email craig.monger@1819News.com.