Alabama sheriff still scaremongering over Constitutional Carry

BILL STARLING

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran was one of the most vocal opponents of Constitutional Carry in the state of Alabama over the past couple of years, even to the point of firing the state represenative who sponsored the bill in the House from his job as captain in the sheriff’s department last year.

Despite Cochran’s repeated attempts to scuttle the legislation, the sheriff didn’t get his way and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a Constitutional Carry bill into law just a couple of weeks ago. You might think that would finally get Cochran to give up his anti-carrying crusade, but you’d be wrong. Now the sheriff claims that if Constitutional Carry was already in effect (the bill will officially take effect on January 1, 2023), his office wouldn’t have been able to make any arrests after shots were fired at a vigil held for two recent murder victims.

“As most of you know, I fought hard to prevent PERMIT LESS CARRY [sic] from passing in Montgomery. Our legislatures ignored the voices of Law Enforcement and passed the bill anyway,” Cochran said in a Facebook post from his office Thursday night.

“Had permit less [sic] carry already been active last weekend, then there would be NO arrest [sic], NO seizer [sic] of guns and NO way of knowing whether or not those guns were stolen or used in other crimes.”

Cochran’s claims aren’t just grammatically incorrect. According to Rep. Scott Stringer, the chief sponsor of the Constitutional Carry bill and the former employee of Cochran, the sheriff is simply wrong.

“‘Constitutional carry’ is not the issue,” he said. “The bill states that law enforcement officers are still allowed to conduct investigations into criminal activity. Probable cause allows officers to conduct investigations and arrests into criminal activity.”

The lawmaker said in October a “prohibited database” will replace the permit system.

“Because of the Prohibited Person Data Base, these lawbreakers will be prosecuted for having a weapon as they will be a prohibited person to carry a gun,” he said.

I don’t expect Cochran to ever reverse his position on Constitutional Carry, but it would be nice if he’d at least be honest with his constituents about what the law will and won’t do.

It should also be noted that none of the four suspects arrested have officially been charged in the shooting, though Mobile police an officer “returned fire” at the time.

Jonas Dillard, 20, and Tymetrick James, 20, have both bonded out of jail for their charges, according to jail records.

Dillard bonded out just before noon Monday, charged with carrying a pistol without a license and second degree receiving stolen property. James bonded out around 9:18 a.m., charged with attempting to elude police, as well as failure to obey.

Two others, Zeveon Thames, 24, and Artez Williams, 20, are still in jail for their charges.

Thames was booked into Mobile Metro Jail around 2:18 a.m. Monday, charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, first degree possession of marijuana, as well as possession of a controlled substance.

Thames was also arrested on a second degree possession of marijuana warrant, which was first issued in December of 2020.

Williams was booked into jail just before 2 a.m. Monday, charged with carrying a pistol without a license. He was also arrested for three other active warrants, including two counts of first degree theft of property, along with certain persons forbidden to possess a pistol.

Despite Cochran’s claims, none of the suspects have solely been charged with carrying a pistol without a license, which further undercuts his narrative that none of these individuals would have been taken into custody if Constitutional Carry was already in effect.

Cochran is clearly still salty over his inability to defeat Constitutional Carry, and I’m guessing this won’t be the last time he tries to link a current crime with his opposition to the new law. Lawmakers in Alabama are already ignoring what the sheriff has to say, and sadly, I think it’s time for Mobile County residents (and everyone else) to do the same.