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Sheriff disagrees with firearm-related bill

By STEVEN CALHOUN/Staff Writer

A bill aimed at removing restrictions on concealed carry laws is under consideration in the Alabama state Senate.

Senate Bill 24 is aimed at removing license requirements for carrying a concealed weapon. Currently, citizens must apply for and purchase a permit through their local sheriff’s office to legally carry a concealed firearm.

If SB 24 passed, it would allow citizens to legally carry a concealed firearm or have a loaded firearm in their vehicle without a permit.

“For us, it’s going to be an officer safety and community safety issue,” Sheriff John Shearon said. “There’s not a Republican or Democratic sheriff in the state of Alabama that’s against the Second Amendment, we just don’t think everybody should be able to carry a gun. I’ve denied a couple of the permits because of stuff that they can’t have permits for … violent crimes, felonies, domestic violence and things like that.”

Shearon said he had been to Montgomery to discuss the bill, and felt the majority of other sheriffs disagreed with the bill. The safety issue is his primary concern, but he mentioned the removal of permits would also mean a loss of funding to sheriffs’ offices around the state that could be used for the “betterment of law enforcement.”

“To us, it’s just a danger factor, that’s what we’re worried about … Right now, we’ve got to look out for the people,” Shearon said.

The Senate bill also aims to remove enhanced punishments for anyone found guilty of committing a violent crime while armed with a pistol, and seeks to allow citizens to concealed carry a firearm while at a public demonstration.