Lee County Sheriff’s Take on Concealed Carry Bill

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BY HANNAH LESTER

HLESTER@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new measure into law on March 11 that will change the way gun owners carry their guns.

No longer will citizens be required to obtain a concealed carry permit.

House Bill 272, The Constitutional Carry Bill, no longer requires citizens to have a permit but also changed the language regarding penalties for unlawful carry.

“Unlike states who are doing everything in their power to make it harder for law abiding citizens, Alabama is reaffirming our commitment to defending our Second Amendment rights,” Ivey said. “I have always stood up for the rights of law abiding gunowners, and I am proud to do that again today.”

 HB 272 trickles down in Alabama to all levels, including Lee County. Sheriff Jay Jones approached the Lee County Commission in November, before Ivey signed the bill, asking commissioners to continue a requirement for purchasing concealed carry pistol permits.

“It’s about pro-community safety,” he said in November. “… The current law that’s in place [requires] a person to obtain, by a fee, a pistol permit, to carry a handgun, concealed on about their person or even more importantly, in their vehicle, as they go about their business. And it’s the business of some that I would like to address.

“The tool allows us when we encounter people, who, are generally up to no good quite frankly, in possession of a weapon because they’re not going to get a permit … Criminals aren’t going to go to the trouble of getting a permit. And we depend on that. Because as a result of that, we can confront them when we encounter them without one in a vehicle and are able, in many cases, to relieve them of those weapons, which many times, are stolen.”

At the time, three citizens spoke against Jones’ request, however, the commission voted in favor of his resolution.

Three commissioners voted in favor, while District 5 Commissioner Richard LaGrand abstained.

“You know, Jay, if this is something that helps you and the three gentlemen back there with you in law enforcement, if it helps y’all do your job, I would encourage the commission to support this,” said District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham. “And I think what I just heard is that it did.”

Now that HB272 has been signed into law, however, Jones said he supports Ivey’s efforts for Second Amendment Rights.

“[I] agree that Alabama should be strong in affirming the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” he said in a statement to The Observer. “Whether the purpose is for protection of self and family or to engage in hunting or sporting activities, the right to acquire and own a firearm is fundamental. As a Sheriff, I support citizens exercising this right and encourage the concept of responsibility by acquiring the knowledge and skills to safely handle and maintain a firearm.”

His concerns, however, are still in place, he said.

“Law enforcement professionals at all levels remain concerned that a tool utilized by our peace officers around Alabama has been removed,” Jones said. “These concerns are based on experience and knowledge gained by those who keep our communities safe every day. We will remain vigilant and our hope is that our concerns do not come to fruition when the law takes effect next year.”

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