Is anyone happy with Alabama's permitess carry law?

Is anyone happy with Alabama's permitess carry law?

While I’m sure there are plenty of Alabama gun owners who are thrilled with the changes, there is some opposition to the new permitless carry law that took effect on January 1st, and not all of it is coming from those who’ve been objecting from the get-go. As we discuss on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, even some Second Amendment supporters are taking issue with the way the new law is being implemented and would like to see some modifications made.

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On Wednesday afternoon, Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch and Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine held a press conference to pan the new law; not necessarily a surprise given that Sam Cochrane, the previous sheriff in the county, was one of the most vocal opponents of the carry bill during last year’s legislative efforts to get it approved. Burch, who served under Cochrane as a sheriff’s captain before winning election last November after Cochrane decided to retire, is picking up where his former boss left off.

“I’m a big supporter of the Second Amendment, but I believe there should be some common sense applied to it,” said Burch. “(Lawmakers) never endured so much pressure to ram a bill through (than they did last year).”

Burch said the Alabama Sheriff’s Association is seeking an opinion from Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office to clear up some of the questions the new law creates. A spokesman for Marshall’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Sheriffs also came under criticism last year for emphasizing lost revenues by the removal of the permit requirement. Burch said the Mobile County Sheriff Department, during the second half of last year, lost an estimated $800,000.

That’s a legitimate concern for sheriffs’ departments, but frankly, they should never have been reliant on licensing the exercise of a fundamental right for funding in the first place. According to AL.com, the The Association of County Commissions of Alabama is working on draft legislation that would find a new way to fund the departments, and as long as legal gun owners aren’t being singled out to provide that money I don’t think you’ll see many objections from Second Amendment supporters, though BamaCarry head Eddie Fulmer doesn’t think permitless carry’s passage is the main reason for the drop in licensing fees.

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Fulmer pointed to the relatively new five-year pistol permit as the reason. He also said most law-abiding gun owners will likely purchase a permit in Alabama.

“I got a five-year permit and most of the people I know still buy permits,” he said.

Which is not to say that Fulmer is satisfied with the permitless carry law in its current form, which he says empowers police to take hold of lawfully-possessed firearms during simple traffic stops.

“We don’t feel like when you are pulled over (for running) a stop sign, that an officer should take a weapon from you and run a (background check),” said Fulmer. “If you don’t tell them you have a weapon with you, then you are susceptible to a criminal offense. We are not happy with that at all. We didn’t write that in there. The Republicans wrote that in, and we tried to get it taken out before it was passed.”

Whether Alabama lawmakers have the appetite to revisit the new permitless carry law remains to be seen, but Fulmer’s concerns seem like they could be addressed with a minor tweak. Meanwhile, the Alabama Sheriffs Association, which formally opposed the permitless carry bill last year, is seeking an opinion from Attorney General Steve Marshall to “clarify” questions they have about the law and how its enforced. I’m of the opinion that the biggest beef from law enforcement has to do with the loss of revenue from carry permit applications, however, and I suspect that if lawmakers find a way to restore those funds a lot of the grumbling is going to fade away.

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