TUSCALOOSA, AL — Tuscaloosa-based Second Amendment advocacy group BamaCarry says Alabama’s latest gun law on the books after questions and opposition from law enforcement at the local level does not need to be changed.
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As Patch previously reported, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy called the legislation removing state handgun licensing requirements a “very bad bill,” while Tuscaloosa city officials are considering seeking an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General on the lack of a penalty in law for violating a gun owner’s “duty to inform” law enforcement agencies.
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The new law went into effect on January 1 after it was passed by the state legislature during the 2022 session.
BamaCarry, Inc. founder Eddie Fulmer played a central role last year in the nationwide lobby’s effort to get the law passed after numerous failed attempts, and told Patch he didn’t understand why anyone would oppose a law that does only a law-abiding citizen is allowed to carry a gun.
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He also said that the proposed changes to the law, namely the proposed penalties for violating the “Duty to Know” Act, constitute a violation of the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) and the Fifth Amendment.
“I’m pulled over for running a stop sign and the officer wants me to disarm and run through my gun numbers,” Fulmer said. “Disarming a law-abiding citizen for any reason other than this is offensive and demeaning and will only create more public ill feelings towards law enforcement that we don’t need.” This brings back memories of the Nazis in Germany.
“This law allows only a law-abiding citizen to wear it,” Fulmer added. “If a prison officer has concerns about someone’s qualifications in the course of their job, they need only look at them [Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s] new database of banned people. If the person isn’t found, then by definition they’re eligible to carry.”
Alabama has allowed open carry without a gun license for years, but many gun rights advocates have opposed the gun license requirement for concealed carry, which involves carrying a loaded handgun within reach in one’s vehicle.
And as it stands, Alabama municipalities are prohibited from superseding state statutes regarding gun laws, meaning any legislative changes must come from the legislature.
ALSO READ: God, Guns & The GOP: Inside The BamaCarry 2022 State Convention
State Assemblyman Ron Bolton, a Northport Republican and retired captain of the Northport Police Department, told Patch that although he wasn’t in office during the last legislative session when the law passed, he campaigned for it.
“Of course, I’m a retired police officer, but I’ve also spent more than 20 years training officers and instructors in survival tactics at the department and academy levels and across the region,” he said. “The most important thing for any officer is to always assume the person you are dealing with is armed and treat them with respect while being prepared to respond to threatening behavior.”
The first-term legislature then stated that a number of the bill’s co-sponsors and supporters were former and current law enforcement officials.
“The main problem I’m hearing is the lack of an enforcement mechanism for people who fail to notify an officer that they are armed,” Bolton said. “Maybe it could be worked with within reason, we’ll just have to see.”
Fulmer then argued that in each of the 26 states that have passed permitless carry legislation, his grassroots group and others have encountered the “same old, worn-out arguments” proponents see today amid concerns about the new law in Alabama.
“Unfounded scaremongering, but there is no change in the security of the officers,” he said. “A government permit slip has never saved anyone but has killed law-abiding citizens who wanted to be legal. Respecting ‘gun-free zones’ and other restricted places has put law-abiding citizens at risk. This is unacceptable at best. I really expected something better our [Alabama Sheriffs Association or ASA] and leaders in the law enforcement community. What the ASA fails to understand is that “criminals” do not obey the law. They will have a gun, although they are forbidden from having it.”
In fact, the Alabama Sheriffs Association has been the most vocal opponent of the permitless-carry law, raising concerns ranging from lost revenue from gun permit sales to concerns about the safety of deputies.
Additionally, Abernathy told Patch on Thursday that one of his biggest concerns is citizens who may not be familiar with the law traveling to other states that may require a concealed carry handgun permit.
“Someone might think it’s okay to go downstairs [to Florida] with their gun, and they could end up being charged with a crime,” Abernathy said. “Only by going on vacation and they happen to have a gun because they don’t understand the law. I think we need to do a lot better than that and I hope lawmakers will go back and change some of that.”
Still, Fulmer is vocal in his disagreement over perceptions of threats to officer safety and concerns about lost revenue, both longstanding talking points for BamaCarry.
“We checked and researched the safety of officers in other states before granting approval for less transportation in Alabama. – nothing changes,” he said. “No more officers were killed and there was no ‘blood on the streets’ as many claimed. Officer safety is a code word for money for permits. It’s always been about the money.”
He then cited documents obtained by BamaCarry that allegedly show that the Alabama Sheriffs Association informed county sheriffs that they would have to defend themselves against the law if they did not want to lose their gun license earnings.
“We are not, and never have been, in favor of disappointing the police,” Fulmer said in response to critics who insist that the lack of gun license revenue will hurt smaller sheriff’s offices. “We would advocate more funding for our law enforcement officers. What we are against is a ‘tax’ on a law-abiding citizen trying to exercise his right to self-defense for himself and his family. Funding cannot continue on the backs of a few… As the money for the permit is lost and not just a tax on the gun owners, many of us pay school taxes when we don’t have kids in school a tax on parents with children in the school, it is shared by all citizens.”
As local law enforcement and local government officials work to understand the impact of the new law on their daily operations and in the community, Fulmer bemoaned what he sees as “fear mongering” by authority figures.
“Many, including the city’s attorneys, seem to be speaking about their opinions rather than the law,” he said, apparently referring to the city of Tuscaloosa, which is considering whether or not to seek comment from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. “Prohibited people are still prohibited. Law enforcement officers have a new tool that lets them know who’s banned almost instantly. They have a new database that gives law enforcement officers a pretty good idea of whether the car they’re approaching has an occupant inside that’s prohibited or could pose a problem. But suddenly people are worried and scared.”
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