Madison County Sheriff defends handgun permits in open letter

Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 at 4:44 PM CST
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MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The Madison County Sheriff is sounding off about a state bill that would change where you can carry your gun.

Sheriff Blake Dorning says he opposes Alabama Senate Bill 24 in an open letter posted to the Sheriff's Office website Saturday.

The proposal would repeal a state law allowing possession of handguns in a vehicle or other locations without a concealed weapons permit.

Sheriff Dorning says it threatens the safety of citizens and law enforcement officers.

He goes on to say he defends the right to bear arms, but not without a pistol permit.

Dear Citizens of Madison County,

My message today is to inform you of an impending Senate Bill in the Alabama Legislature directly threatening the safety for our Law Enforcement Officers and Deputy Sheriffs. It is a threat to law abiding citizens like you and me and a threat to this great state and country.

I am talking about Alabama Senate Bill 24 (SB24) introduced by Senator Gerald Allen. This bill has proposed the repeal of the current Alabama statute that requires a permit, issued by the Sheriff of the county you reside, to allow for the full concealment of a handgun on your person or in a vehicle.

The pistol permit is a tool used by law enforcement to quickly screen an occupant of a vehicle or a person stopped in investigative detention to determine if they are lawfully allowed to possess a concealed handgun. Lacking a permit, the driver or person is in violation of state statute that prohibits concealed weapons. The permit is issued based upon a background investigation conducted by your local Sheriff and verifies the holder has not been convicted of a crime of violence to include domestic violence. The repeal of the current statute will allow everyone who was previously denied a lawful permit to now be able to conceal a handgun in their vehicle to drive or walk freely to attend church services, enter a movie theatre, football stadium, business or other gatherings in our communities.

Alabama law currently prohibits weapons at organized protests. A repeal of the current law by the passing of SB24 will allow handguns to be present at both peaceful and non-peaceful protests. This is especially troublesome and dangerous for protests that espouse hatred. Although protests are protected by the First Amendment, these gatherings will now be attended by persons possessing a handgun hidden from view of law enforcement. SB24 will allow these persons with a past history of violent behavior to do so.

A law enforcement officer cannot stop a person from having a handgun and committing a crime, but every precaution available, to include a background check by your local Sheriff's Office, should be taken to prevent a person convicted of a crime of violence from hiding a gun on his person and walk freely in our neighborhoods and communities.

I fully support and defend our right to keep and bear arms as written by our Founding Fathers of the Constitution reinforced in the Second Amendment. This proposed legislation of SB24 is an attack on the safety of law enforcement. Let our Police Officers and Deputy Sheriff's properly do their jobs to keep concealed handguns from persons whose backgrounds include court convictions of previous violent actions where a victim has been assaulted and/or attacked.

Please join me in contacting your local Alabama Legislators and Senators especially Senate Judiciary Committee Senators Arthur Orr and Clay Scofield who represent you in Madison County concerning the ramifications of passing SB24. Please call their offices and write letters and electronic mail to them and let them know you want to keep handguns out of the hands of those convicted of violent crimes.

With your support we can stop the action of SB24. Let us not have this legislative act expose our children, schools, sporting events, houses of worship, and businesses to those with a background of violence. We owe it to our nation to keep our streets safe from predators that prey on the weak and innocent and target our neighbors who cannot defend themselves from those intending to do us harm.

Thank you for your continued support of our agency. May God continue to bless you and your family, the great State of Alabama, and the great United States of America.

Blake Dorning - Sheriff

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