A closer look at the Alabama permitless carry challenges

Rich Pedroncelli

The other day Tom reported on the pushback Dudley Brown’s National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) was giving to the Alabama Sheriff’s Association. NAGR is right to offer up resistance and pushback on what’s clearly a political move. The subject of the Sheriff’s Association not supporting this commonsense change in the law leaves many wondering what their actual motives are. NAGR is not the only gun rights organization that’s unhappy with the bill receiving no support from the Sheriff’s Association. The National Rifle Association has been carrying the banner in Alabama in working to make the Second Amendment the only permit needed in the Yellowhammer State.

The NRA covered a couple of weeks ago statements made by the leadership of the association:

Bobby Timmons, director of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association (ASA), is so opposed to acknowledging your inherent right-to-carry, and wants so badly to protect the revenue stream from permit fees, that he openly opposes the Second Amendment and allies with anti-gun extremists. He said in a media interview that the ASA is working with a Bloomberg-backed, national anti-gun group in order to oppose the constitutional carry legislation currently in the Alabama Legislature.

From the 1819 News article:

“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.’”

“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’s hard to believe that a person who swore an oath to protect the Constitution can get it so wrong. I’d love to see where Timmons read in the Second Amendment that the Second Amendment only protects our abilities to defend our homes. Yes, Heller explored the matter of in-home firearm possession, but it also noted what “bear” means. To be so hubis to say how or in what manner the amendment was written tells Alabama all they need to know about who’s got their six.

A recent interview Art Thomm gave on Straight Talk With Apryl Marie Fogel aired the other day, January 28th is worth looking into. Art Thomm is the National Rifle Association Alabama State Director and has been pivotal in working with legislators on bringing permitless carry to Alabama. Both Thomm’s and the NRA’s efforts are acting as the heavy lifting on trying to make permitless carry the law of the land.

Thomm offers some valuable insight on both the bill and resistance from the Sheriff’s Association.

Fogel: Well, we are going to talk a little bit about your NRA ILA efforts here in Alabama specific to constitutional carry this year with…which looks like it may pass. Tell our listeners a little bit about what y’all are doing and what y’all have been working on.

Thomm: So, obviously, we’ve been trying to get this legislation passed into law for several years now. I’m sure you recall the task force for 21st century gun laws Several years ago, out of that came what became the lifetime permit bill. And that was a direct vehicle to allow the passage of constitutional carry and get over some of the hurdles of law enforcement and their concerns. So that’s done and now we’re ready for constitutional carry. We’re ready to get this law passed and to legislation, or this legislation passed in the law rather and Alabama’s to become the 22nd state with constitutional carry.

Fogel: Well, it’s interesting because the pushback and for lack of a better word has come from a source that that I… I don’t want to say is surprising because of the money involved. But sheriff’s offices…when the majority of rank and file officers know that it’s not lawful firearm owners who are committing crimes.

Thomm: That’s absolutely correct. And, you know in most of the states where we are, we’ve helped to push this legislation or help to pass it into into law. The Sheriffs Association at some point time or another has opposed or not been supportive of the bill. In some of the states, they’ve been absolutely supportive. But Never have I seen it like it is here. Never have I seen it where the Sheriffs Association comes out and is directly working with the anti gun, Bloomberg funded by and backed by Moms Demand Action or, for goodness sake coming out and saying; “Hey, we actually would support rewriting the constitution to to move firearm possession to just within the home, that we think that the Supreme Court got this wrong, and that you should not be able to possess a firearm outside of the home.” It is stunning. It’s stunning to me. It’s stunning to Alabamians across the state. And we’ve seen from there, a lot of the sheriff’s coming out and saying, “Hey, look, that’s…that’s not how we feel about this. And we actually do support constitutional carry.” And they’re just fearful that the Sheriffs Association, or some of these sheriff’s that either themselves feel that they’re intensely powerful, or maybe, you know, folks in their area feel that they’re intensely powerful, but they’re going to run candidates against them and primary them. And I’ve said for a long time, “Man come out and support it. It is a very popular piece of legislation within the state. And coming out ahead of it and saying that you support it as an elected official is going to do nothing but help you.”

The pushback is not the only thing thing that’s creating friction. The Sheriff’s association is also allegedly putting out misleading information to the public. It’s easy in 2022 to point at the NRA or anything involving firearms and say something damning, especially when it comes from a law enforcement official, whereas the public who might not acutely aware of the details could unknowingly support the stifling and or removal of their own civil rights.

Thomm continued:

Fogel: Well, that says a lot for for the…the Second Amendment supporters that they have, they have people there they can look at and say “You said that you’re a strong second amendment supporter, but you didn’t stand with us for this bill.” All right. Well tell our listeners where they can get more and follow more specifically. Well, and I’ll ask you, I guess before I let you go, is there any other bills that the NRA ILA Alabama’s looking at?

Thomm: Nope. This is this is the…this is a big one. One of the things that I’d like to point out April before we go is that, you know, the Sheriff’s are certainly putting out a lot of misinformation. But, again, this bill will change nothing of who can carry, where they can carry or when they can carry. If you’re a prohibited person or you’re not lawful to possess a firearm today, that will be the same. Once this law is passed. It’s there is there is no changes to that it is…right now you can openly carry a firearm without a permit. After this law gets passed, you can put on a coat or carry it in your purse, those are the layman’s terms that are very different. Anybody can certainly follow the NRA ILA or the National Rifle Association on our social media via Facebook, Instagram. There’s “take action alerts” on both of those right now, social media campaigns running. Also, NRA ILA.org. Click to the state of Alabama or for anybody listening across the country to their state of interest. And it’ll show you what’s going on, what we have, our current alerts, and how you could get involved.

In another interview with Thomm on Midday Mobile on Wednesday the 26th, this topic was covered as well. In it, another important detail was included that people need to be aware of on the safety and suitability of permitless carry.

Well, I can tell you with surety that in the 21, states that have passed this law already, you know, those that have the data available, including the state where I reside in West Virginia, crime has decreased. And there has been 00 crimes associated with constitutional carry, and there has been no enhanced risk to officer safety. In fact, the West Virginia Sheriffs Association on their letterhead drafted a letter to the Alabama legislature to let them know such that “Hey, look, you know, we also felt the same that you do, you know, we had similar fears, similar concerns, five years later, all of that was for nothing.”

[…]

But when you have folks, the likes of Sheriff Cochran, your sheriff there in Mobile, who is spouting off again, the data from moms against everything saying that 88% of Alabamians believe in further gun control. I don’t know, I bet if you put a poll out on your social media, that not one of your people could come back and say that they participated in that poll. And if that’s the case, how is it that 88%…that they could get to that number, I bet you couldn’t walk outside and have 88% of your people agree that the sky is blue. 

Thomm closed out that interview noting the NRA’s involvement in permitless carry and the importance of still maintaining a permitting system.

[E]very state where the NRA focuses on this legislation and has, has passed this or helped pass this into law, including my home state of West Virginia, we have ensured that the concealed carry permit process is absolutely protected. And those who decide on themselves they want to go and get a concealed carry permit so that they can travel, you know, throughout the country enjoy reciprocal agreements, among those states like myself, which includes Alabama and Georgia when I’m when I’m down through here, they can do that. And that’s a great thing. 

Will the race to 22 bring Alabama Alabama into the first place of that winner’s circle? It seems like a big possibility the people of Alabama will be able to say “I am the captain now” when it comes to the removal of permitting requirements, putting them in charge as their own issuing authorities. We’ll be continuing to cover the progress of this initiative as an increasing number of states in the Union go permitless.