Mobile Co. lawmaker believes he’ll be able to get rid of pistol permit requirements in AL

Representative Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle) says you shouldn’t have to purchase a permit to carry a concealed gun because the Second Amendment guarantees your right to do so. His “Constitutional carry” proposal would eliminate pistol permit requirements in Alabama.

“Alabama is already an open carry state. You can walk outside your house with a gun on your side, as long as it’s open. If it’s wintertime, and you put a coat over it, you need a permit,” said Stringer.

Stringer says he’s been working with other lawmakers and believes he has enough support to pass his plan and get rid of pistol permit requirements next session. He says many lawmakers were swayed because the state is now in the process of creating a prohibited person database. It will list people who are ineligible to possess a firearm due to state or federal convictions or mental health illness adjudicated by a court.

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran says eliminating the requirement puts the public in danger and would take away a necessary law enforcement tool. One example, Cochran says, is the arrest earlier this year of Hezekiah Belfon. Before Belfon was wanted on five counts of attempted murder for allegedly being the triggerman in last month’s Ladd-Peebles stadium shooting, the 19-year-old was charged in May for not having a pistol permit and receiving stolen property.

“Had it not been against the law for him to possess that pistol without a permit, the officers would not have had a right to seize the weapon and run a check on it to determine it was stolen,” said Cochran.

“I don’t think that we alter the constitution to give law enforcement a tool,” said Stringer.

“This prohibited person database is the best tool that we’ve ever needed in law enforcement, “said Stringer. “Instead of being arrested on a misdemeanor, no pistol permit you could be arrested for certain persons forbidden, which is a felony.”

Cochran says a database like that already exists and is used to run background checks when people apply for pistol permits.

“In the words of the great Antonin Scalia, he said ‘rights are not unlimited.’ Just like the religious freedom does not give you the right to do human sacrifices and freedom of speech does not give you the right to holler fire in a theater. The right to bear arms does not give everybody the right to bear arms anywhere and everywhere,” said Cochran.

“I was elected to represent my constituents. My constituents want this. They’re asking for this,” said Stringer.

Stringer says many he’s spoken with will still purchase a pistol permit so they can still legally carry their gun across state lines.

Cochran says 63,000 people in Mobile County have pistol permits and last year his office turned down 700 people seeking one because they did not pass criminal background checks.