A large assembly of various state organizations and advocacy groups assembled on the steps of the State House Tuesday to speak out against permit-less carry, also known as "Constitutional carry."

The Alabama Sheriff’s Association (ASA), the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, the Alabama Association of School Resource Officers, several local police chiefs, and members of Mom’s Demand Action were present at the event. According to one sheriff, between 30 and 40 sheriffs participated in the event. Robert Timmons, the director of the ASA, who stirred controversy with his comments earlier this year, did not attend.

Derrick Cunningham, the Alabama Sheriff’s Association president, commenced the event. 

“This afternoon, we are joined by members of law enforcement, as well as members from Mom’s Demand Action, and concerned citizens here in the state of Alabama,” Cunningham said.

The event had multiple speakers who aired their grievances with Constitutional carry legislation. Large placards of gun and drug seizures surrounded the speakers, as well as brief gun statistics in the state and nation.

“We hope to keep the law in place, to require a permit to help us do a better job, to be more effective at doing our job,” said Sheriff Jay Jones of Lee County. “And simply put, if these laws were to pass and allow for permitless carry in the state of Alabama, then it would make it just a little bit tougher for us to do our jobs every day.”

Baldwin County Sherriff Huey “Hoss” Mack also took the podium, discussing the fatal shootings that have taken place in his county, stating that he feels the passing of Constitutional carry would be more dangerous for law enforcement.  

“This job is getting a little bit more dangerous,” Mack said. “So, what I would ask the legislature to do is to is, Let’s support our law enforcement. Let’s get back to a time in which we do put people in prison. Let’s support our prison system. Let’s make sure that we enhance the penalties once again for criminal activity and keep the criminals where they need to be. If we want to support law enforcement, we need to be having a lot more conversations about legislation other than permit-less carry.”

“When we look to hire police officers, one of the main traits we look for is common sense,” said Edward Delmore, the Gulf Shores Police Chief. No one up here is anti-Second Amendment. That’s absolutely not the case. Some have said that; that can’t be further from the truth. But this bill doesn’t comply with common sense. I’ve had the ability for the last 30 years to teach street-level police officers throughout the United States, and I’ve worked as a police officer all those many years. I can tell you this bill will make it more dangerous for those officers and more dangerous for the citizens of this state; this is a bad bill.”

When asked about the added benefit he believed permits add through the background checks that are already required under law, Cunningham said, “It adds a lot to that. You are talking about going to an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed) dealer. What if you purchase that firearm from a civilian? Or if you buy that firearm off the street? That background check is going to be done when you get that permit. You’re going to get a NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) check done. We’re going to know your background intel.”

Currently, under Alabama law, you do not need to provide a background check for private sales. However, it is a crime to sell a firearm to someone you know is ineligible.

We got an extra layer of security added to it when you come and get that permit. And if you get a permit for two to five years. We’re still checking you every year, so we’ll know. And we’ll still be able to go out and deny that person if we did not get notified.”

Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said that the lack of remaining sheriffs present at the event did not mean there was disagreement amongst the sheriffs.

“We all stand as one,” Turner said. “It’s just a big state. We got big jobs, a lot of people got a lot of stuff going on.”

When asked what additional protection permits offer, Turner said that it is the ability to “take guns away from the bad guys.”

“Let’s say you have a pistol permit, say you and your spouse get into an altercation where there’s a protection order against taken out on you,” said Turner. "Our job as a sheriff, when the judge orders that protection order, If there’s a protection order in my county, I’ll make sure that’s going to flag, we have to go talk to that subject who has that protection order, take his permit and his weapon. That is another layer of security we offer.”

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