By Rebekah Martin
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones spoke to a group of citizens about Alabama’s gun laws at a public forum Tuesday.
The forum was hosted by the Auburn Alumnae chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at Lee County’s Emergency Management Agency office on Avenue B in Opelika. Social Action committee head JoAnna Abram said the purpose behind hosting forums such as Tuesday’s meeting was to aid Lee County residents in their effort to stay abreast of current laws. “Laws are constantly being changed and modified and if you are not staying informed of these changes, chances are you’re educating people on incorrect data,” Abram said.
Jones said he always appreciates the invitation to come speak to the public about issues that effect Lee County residents.
“So many things get misdirected because of misinformation, and I think we are all better off when we can have individuals who have knowledge of a particular subject matter to come out and educate us,” Jones said. “It makes our communities better, it helps keep us informed and helps us make better decisions that effect our everyday lives.”
Jones addressed ten of the 13 amendments passed in 2013 to Alabama’s firearm laws that modified numerous aspects of law. Some of those aspects included clarification on how private employers can ban firearms on their property.
Other amendments state that the state legislature has full control over firearm laws, prohibiting cities from making arbitrary laws regulating the firearm ownership and use of its citizens.
Jones and Administrative Lt. Jason Black answered questions on the changes to the law regarding obtaining a concealed carry permit. Black said it is a myth that a person is required to own a gun before they are granted a permit and that multiple permits are required for multiple guns. “We don’t register guns in Alabama, so you don’t have to list every gun you own,” Black said. “It is also believed that you must list your social security number when applying for a carry permit. That is untrue.”
The second speaker of the evening was Lisa Stephens, director of the Domestic Violence Intervention Center in Opelika, which provides professional and confidential services to victims of domestic abuse in Lee and surrounding counties.
Stephens said even though she sees a great deal of firearm violence in her field of work, she is a proponent of responsible gun ownership. “I grew up learning how to shoot a gun, and as the sheriff said, knowing how to be a responsible gun owner can make all the difference,” she said.
Stephens said firearms were involved in 15 percent of reported domestic abuse cases and 50 percent of abuse cases that resulted in homicide.
“We hear these statistics on a daily basis at our shelter,” Stephens said. “I’m really glad to hear Lee County is making these strides to lower those numbers.”