Tuscaloosa County Sheriff reacts to permit less carry passing
TUSCALOOSA COUNTY – Alabama is the latest state to allow people to carry concealed handguns without first undergoing a background check and getting a state permit.
Some county officials aren’t happy about it. “Yeah, I’m not very happy about this bill,” Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law Thursday, March 10, 2022. The new law ends the requirement to get a state permit to carry a loaded gun concealed under clothes, in a bag, or in a car.
While gun rights advocates have strongly supported permit less carry, law enforcement entities fear the new law will make their jobs even harder. “I think it’s an endangerment to all law enforcement officers as they do their job,” Abernathy said. “I think it’s an endangerment to the citizens out here.”
Some supporters of permit less carry think county sheriff’s offices oppose the bill because their discretionary funds will no longer be benefitting from the 20-dollar permit fees.
“If their concern was about paying for a permit, they should’ve just said, ‘Let’s do the same process’, but give it to the citizens for free,” Abernathy said. “If they take the money away, then that’s fine, OK? We’ll find another way. Will it make an impact on law enforcement or on sheriffs’ offices financially? It will some. The larger ones, it won’t be a dramatic impact. But the smaller ones, it will hurt some. The issue is: safety for our officers out here, and safety for the citizens out here.”
Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said he fears the new law will contribute to higher violent crime rates. “Well, I think you’re going to start seeing even more shootings than what we’ve already seen,” Abernathy said. “You’ve already seen over the years, shootings have increased. I think you will continue to see that happen. I think you’re going to see more issues involving people with mental health issues that have guns that lead to people getting killed in that situation. I think it’s going to lead to officers going up to the cars where they’re going to be in more danger of getting shot, potentially. I think there’s just a lot of factors here that have me very concerned, not to mention just the public.”
Tuscaloosa County is no exception when it comes to the national law enforcement office shortage. Abernathy says permit less carry could feed an already growing problem. “Our job is hard enough today,” Abernathy said. It’s much harder than it was when I started. If anybody tells you that’s not the truth, it is not correct. I can tell you, this is going to make our job much harder because this is not going to make it safer. Nobody is going to be carrying a gun that would not have already had a gun. But guess what, you’re going to see people that shouldn’t be carrying a gun, will have a gun. That’s what this is going to do.”
The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023.