MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - At a news conference held on Wednesday, March 6 at the Mobile County Sheriff's Office, sheriffs from across the state of Alabama took a stand on Senate Bill 286 .
Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich, Escambia County, Ala. Sheriff Grover Smith, along with several police chiefs and police personnel from across the area attended the conference.
"I think that it is emotionally driven out of some incidences that happened on our national level and incidences that are being discussed in Washington," said Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack.
"We're talking about lives here. People on the street are going to die because of 286; and most of them are going to be poor, who don't live in a gated community. It makes me mad," said Smith.
The bill made it through a senate committee. Co-sponsor Senator Rusty Glover from Mobile said the bill is in response to citizens requests to further protect Second Amendment rights.
"A lot of citizens in Alabama are realizing that there are in some areas of Alabama not enough Second Amendment protections as there are in other states," said Glover.
Glover said the bill expands the right to bear arms for Alabamians. The bill opens up locations where you can carry a concealed weapon, like to your place of work, and how you get pistol permits. Those are just two of the many components of the nearly 30 page bill. Glover says several components have been introduced in the past separately, but this bill combines them in one package.
At the conference, Cochran gave his take.
"It involves taking away the discretion of the sheriff and the issuing of concealed carry or pistol permits. It would allow pistols in cars without pistol permits, which is currently law; and it would remove age restrictions on pistols in cars," said Cochran.
Those are just a few of the potential problems listed by those speaking Wednesday. Cochran said the bill will turn Alabama into a "shall" state when issuing permits, rather than a "may" state. Sheriff Smith gave an example.
"Imagine being at a ballgame and a group of kids drive up, and they all have their guns and get out. You call law enforcement, and they say, ‘We're sorry, because of 286 this is now permittable," Smith said.
Glover said Alabama is one of only 11 "shall" states. He said this bill is an attempt to bring Alabama up to par with others when it comes to Second Amendment protection. Taking away the sheriff's discretion is just one way to do that.
All at the conference agree that taking away sheriff's discretion in issuing permits would result in a decrease in public safety.
"In Baldwin County, our deniability rate is approximately less than 1 percent out of 14,000 permits. Where is the issue?" Mack said.
Glover said these concerns are heard in Montgomery.
"All of the concerns of those coming up are concerns the senators have themselves," said Glover.
The bill has not yet been added to the calendar, but could reach the Senate floor soon. When it does, Glover says it will be open to amendments.
"The people are demanding that we pass something substantial to bring Alabama up to the Second Amendment protections in other states but we also need to make sure to address concerns of the sheriff's so we can actually get it passed," said Glover.
Supporters of this bill include the National Rifle Association and around 11 other senators. Per the NRA's website, it states this bill seeks to restore and protect the right of law-abiding gun owners
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