Constitutional Carry bill faces first test in Alabama

(AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

On paper, you’d think that the passage of Constitutional Carry legislation would be assured in a state that’s as crimson-red as Alabama. The reality on the ground, unfortunately, is that several sheriffs in the state, as well as the director of the state sheriffs’ association, are lobbying hard to keep the current licensing law in place. In fact, Alabama Sheriffs Association director Robert ‘Bobby’ Timmons says the group is even partnering with Moms Demand Action to fight the push for Constitutional Carry in Alabama. Frankly, based on Timmons’ comments, it sounds like a match made in heaven.

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.”

I’m disappointed that we haven’t seen a mass of sheriffs calling Timmons out for his timorous view of our right to keep and bear arms, and his apparent desire to criminalize the carrying of firearms for self-defense. Then again, I haven’t seen a lot of sheriffs in the state embracing Constitutional Carry either, so maybe more of them agree with Timmons’ take than they’re willing to discuss publicly.

Despite the opposition from the sheriffs, state Sen. Gerald Adams, who’s the chief sponsor of the Senate version of permitless carry, says he’s feeling good about the bill’s prospects.

Allen, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, told Patch on Thursday that Senate Bill 1 will be the first on the calendar considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

“This is the same bill I’ve brought up for the last nine or ten years,” Allen said, with a noticeable hint of optimism in his voice. “It’s been a while, but we’ve got the votes from the Senate to pass it and, on the committee, we’ve got the votes, so we feel very confident.”

In past legislative sessions, the bill stalled in some way or another, always failing to net the necessary support from Allen’s colleagues in the Republican super majority in the statehouse.

But Allen said something is noticeably different about this year.

And it came as little surprise when he attributed renewed support for the controversial measure to social and political turbulence at present across the country. He argues that the attitudes of many conservative Americans have changed in recent years, as more grow concerned about their safety and the ability to protect themselves.

“I think not only that, they’ve come to realize that the founding fathers have given us an opportunity to really recognize the Constitution as a real, living document that gives us that right,” he said. “It’s not a privilege, after all, it’s a right.”

I think there’s something to Allen’s argument, but I’d also point out that we now have 21 states that have adopted Constitutional Carry laws of their own, and as the law takes effect without issue in each of these states, I think even non-gun owning conservatives become more comfortable with the idea.

Allen seems pretty confident about the bill getting out of committee next week, but I hope Alabama gun owners and Second Amendment supporters will contact their lawmakers and encourage them to support the bill as well. We know that Moms (and Sheriffs) Demand Action will be twisting arms and promising campaign cash to try to derail the bill’s progress, and unless gun owners make their support for Constitutional Carry loud and clear, some lawmakers may decide it’s politically safe to stick with the status quo.