Not everyone is taking the trend of states adopting permitless concealed carry well. An Alabama sheriff says the Yellowhammer State’s new permitless carry law “will impact us all in a very negative way.” And it’s a debate he’s “willing to have with anyone.” Barbour County Sheriff Tyrone Smith might regret throwing down that challenge, since his open letter reflects fundamental errors of the gun controller’s ideology.
The sheriff is upset because, with the passage of HB 272, Alabama will no longer require a permit to carry concealed pistols. The lack of a permit requirement is sometimes known as “constitutional carry” or “permitless carry,” although I don’t like either term.
“Constitutional carry” gives the false impression that the Constitution is the source of our gun rights, when in fact the Constitution simply acknowledges and protects our pre-existing natural right of self-defense. “Permitless carry” makes it sound like a permit requirement is the status quo, and the freedom to carry without one is exceptional. Historically, the exact opposite was true.
“Free carry” communicates the truth of the mattter: this is the government getting out of the way of individuals exercising their natural rights. Almost half the nation has now adopted this approach, making it the most dominant means of “regulating” public carry of firearms in the nation—and the momentum continues to build.
But Sheriff Smith says Alabama’s free carry law was “recklessly” passed through the influence of “special interest” groups. This is a common trope: when self-defense rights are upheld, gun control activists often blame a shadowy “gun lobby,” rather than acknowledge their policies aren’t wanted.
Maybe the sheriff doesn’t realize gun control is increasingly unpopular, while firearm ownership is embraced by diverse groups across cultural and political lines. Perhaps Smith isn’t aware that gun restrictions—not gun rights—have often served the “special interest” of racist intent.
Gun control is losing support, as Americans from all backgrounds realize they are responsible for their own self-defense amid surging crime. Police do not have a legal duty to protect individuals. And the old saying is true: “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”
Nonetheless, Sheriff Smith believes free carry in Alabama “will make it extremely difficult for law enforcement to protect the citizens and themselves.” Those “who already have safety concerns,” he says, “should be furious” that concealed pistols will no longer require a permit.
Rather than getting mad and calling for gun control, Alabamians with “safety concerns” should take real steps to ensure their personal protection. A permitting scheme is not going to protect them from violence—because criminals don’t follow laws.
The people who commit home invasions, rapes, kidnappings, and murders are not scrupulous about getting their gun permits. It’s absurd to think violent offenders—often sentenced to death in Alabama—will be deterred by pistol permit laws with their comparatively minor penalties.
A law enforcement officer like Sheriff Smith should understand all of this. But some people truly believe the empty promises of “safety” made by gun control activists, and Smith seems to fall in this camp.
He is concerned that Alabama “ranks 5th out of 50 states that were analyzed for gun violence.” No source is cited for this ranking—he may have relied on the far-left Center for American Progress, or the first Google result for “gun violence by state,” both of which make such a claim.
Neither source appears to distinguish between criminal violence and acts of self-defense, making their data virtually worthless. At any rate, if Alabama really has this level of violent crime, that is all the more reason to remove any and all bureaucratic barriers to self-defense.
Smith also seems to think the cost of a permit is no big deal: “In my opinion, paying twenty dollars a year to obtain a pistol permit and alleviate unnecessary criminal issues is a no brainer.”
Yet there are many financially strapped Alabamians for whom that fee is hardly small change. More to the point, the government should be charging absolutely nothing for the exercise of natural self-defense rights.
If the Barbour County Sheriff is serious about debating all comers on the importance of gun permits, he probably shouldn’t have ended his letter with a list of over 20 states “that have laws passed such as ours.”
From Alaska to Wyoming, these free carry states strike me as great places to live.
And I don’t recall any of them being compared to a horror movie or a war zone. Those violent descriptions are reserved for locations like L.A. and Chicago—places with some of the nation’s strictest gun laws.
But, Sheriff Smith, if you still want to debate, I’ll take you up on your offer. Reach out and we’ll make it happen. People, not your office, have the right to decide how best to protect their lives and their loved ones, and I’m happy to advocate on their behalf.
Cody J. Wisniewski (@TheWizardofLawz) is the director of Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms. He primarily focuses on Second Amendment issues but is happy so long as he is reminding the government of its enumerated powers and constitutional restrictions.
To learn more about the Center to Keep and Bear Arms’ work and support their fight for your natural right to self-defense—from both man and tyranny—visit www.mslegal.org/2A and donate today!