MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A southwest Alabama sheriff and a state House member are again jousting over whether the state should abolish permits to carry concealed handguns.
Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran spoke before the Mobile County Commission last week endorsing a resolution to keep permits. But Republican state Rep. Shane Stringer of Citronelle spoke in favor of his proposal to abolish the state’s permit requirement.
Stringer is a former Mobile County sheriff’s captain. He was fired by Cochran because the two disagree on gun permits. Stringer argues for “constitutional carry,” the idea that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives everyone the right to carry a firearm without a permit or license.
Most sheriffs statewide lobbied against a similar bill last year. Cochran argues the permit process is akin to a background check, noting Mobile County turned down 700 of 63,000 applicants for a concealed weapons permit last year over concerns about an applicant’s criminal history.
“There are those who do not need to be carrying concealed weapons in our restaurants, clubs and sports bars,” Cochran told the commission. “The biggest thing is safety of our citizens and officers.”
Stringer says a database being developed by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will monitor for people who can’t legally possess a gun because of a criminal conviction or a finding of mental illness by a court.
Stringer said the new system will “give law enforcement the tools they need to take the criminals off the street.”
The database was mandated by lawmakers last year when they allowed people to buy a lifetime pistol permit for $300.
Stringer argues sheriffs are trying to hold onto the fees that come with concealed carry permits, but says people shouldn’t have to pay to exercise a constitutional right.
“I don’t think we should be taxing people for carrying a gun,” Stringer said.
He said some gun owners will still buy a permit in Alabama so they will be allowed to travel to other states that require them.