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Alabama sheriffs speak out against proposed permitless carry bill

Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 8:07 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2022 at 8:40 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - On Tuesday afternoon, Alabama sheriffs spoke out on the steps of the Statehouse in opposition to a bill that could remove the requirement to get a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm.

If passed, Alabama would join the 21 other states that also do not require permits. This legislation is heavily backed by Republicans and the National Rifle Association.

The sheriffs say public safety is their top concern and that includes the safety of law enforcement because removing the requirement to get a permit would make it even easier to get a gun without registering it.

“Then they’d just be able to carry whenever they want. No one can stop them, no one can question them, and it’s just a bad deal all the way around. If we don’t know about it, we don’t know how to protect other people,” said Baldwin County deputy Curtis Summerlin.

He cited an example from Nov. 23, 2012, when Summerlin and another Baldwin County deputy, Scott Ward, responded to a welfare concern call of a mentally ill man that ended in gunfire. Summerlin was shot three times.

“It took me three years to return to full duty,” said Summerlin. “Unfortunately said deputy Ward and the suspect were fatally wounded that day.”

Summerlin isn’t the only victim of violent crime in Alabama.

“In 2022 seven people were shot in a bowling alley in Montgomery with one suffering fatal wounds. That’s a fact,” said Montgomery Interim Police Chief Ramona Harris.

Officials say they understand permits don’t stop violent crime, but without permits, they lose an important tool.

“We asked the person to step out of their car. He had a weapon in his waistband, so we did a pat search on him. ‘Do you have a permit?’ ‘No, sir, I do not.’ That led us to be able to investigate the case.” said Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner.

“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,” said Gulf Shores Police Chief Ed Delmore.

In a statement, NRA representative Lars Dalseide said: “The Alabama Sheriff’s Association is either engaged in a deliberate campaign to mislead or simply hasn’t read the bill. Constitutional carry only allows people who are legally allowed to possess a handgun to carry that handgun for self-protection. Prohibited persons are not allowed to possess firearms - period. We live in a dangerous world, and self-defense situations can arise anywhere without warning. State lawmakers must not stand in the way of their citizens and the ability to defend themselves and their loved ones.”

“I don’t want to see another deputy harmed, and I sure don’t want to have to go back through what I went through for three years when the next guy decides ‘I’m going to pull this gun and shoot at a cop.’ I don’t want anyone to have to go through that. It’s very emotional for me,” said Summerlin.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will have a public hearing at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to cover permitless carry.

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