BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WALA) - Dozens of sheriffs from across the state of Alabama gathered in Birmingham this week for the 2013 Winter Training Conference.
Alabama Sheriffs used the occasion to discuss their stance on proposed state legislation involving firearms; specifically Senate Bill 129 and House Bill 55.
State and local law enforcement officials said they oppose the bills, claiming both would change the way pistol permits are issued by the Sheriff.
Those present also said they are outraged that legislators have not reached out to them for input as the bills make their rounds in the state capital.
They said the legislation would turn Alabama from a ‘may' permit state to a ‘must' permit state when it comes to issuing firearm permits.
Area Sheriffs said the bills would take away their authority to investigate those applying for pistol permits, if needed.
They also said the legislation would effectively cripple their ability to regulate guns:
- Take away control from organizations such as churches over firearms being brought into their buildings and properties.
- Take away rights of property owners to control their private property or place of business.
- Allow radical organizations to come armed to public demonstrations.
- Make it easier for criminals to obtain concealed pistol permits.
The sheriffs, who came from across the state, promised to protect the constitution — specifically, the Second Amendment.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey ‘Hoss' Mack said local law enforcement is not trying to limit those who can obtain a gun permit. In fact, he said, Mobile and Baldwin Counties have had a record number of permits issued this past year.
However, the ability to use discretion is important for the Sheriff's Office, Mack said.
Officials gave several examples of cases involving mentally ill gunmen across the state in recent months.
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