By: José Niño
At the recent monthly meeting of the Shoals Republican Club, Alabama State Rep. Andrew Sorrell detailed his opposition to a statewide universal database of concealed carry license holders. This issue is currently being discussed by lawmakers at the state capitol in Montgomery.
Sorrell is a strong advocate of Constitutional Carry, the idea that any law-abiding individual can carry a firearm without needing a government permission slip.
According to the pro-gun elected official, centralizing concealed carry permit holders’ information comes with various privacy concerns. Sorrell is also of the opinion that this measure does not directly address the problem of law enforcement being able to determine if a criminal is in possession of a firearm in certain situations.
“(S)omebody in the New York media published a list of everybody who had a concealed carry permit,” Sorrell said. “How would you feel if your name showed up on that list? It is an absolutely terrible idea to centralize the database. What law enforcement needs is a database of criminals. When they pull up your driver’s license number or your tag number, they should be able to see if you are a criminal — if you are running from the law or if you’ve convicted of a felony, or whatever. Law enforcement needs to know that information. Why does a law enforcement officer need to know if a legal citizen, a lawful citizen has a permit? Why is that necessary information? The whole theory behind it is they got background checked when they bought the gun. They got background checked again when they bought the permit. And now, law enforcement needs to be afraid of them because they might have a gun in their car? No, that doesn’t make any sense.”
Sorrell also opposed allowing 67 county sheriffs to handle the permitting process, alluding to previous problems concerning how sheriffs handled the permits. In some cases, sheriffs were reportedly sidestepping background check procedures.
In Sorrell’s view, this situation demonstrated that sheriffs were more concerned about making a quick buck rather than promoting public safety.
“I don’t trust the sheriffs to handle it, to be honest with you — and I’ll tell you why,” Sorrell said. “Because right now in Alabama, you cannot use your concealed permit as evidence you are legally allowed to purchase a gun, whereas a year-and-a-half ago, you could. If you walk into my pawn shop, I didn’t have to background check you. If you had a concealed carry permit, you had already been background checked. You hand me your concealed carry permit, I write the information on a (ATF Form) 4473, I throw it in the stack, and I sell you the gun. Now I have to background check everybody because there were at least four sheriffs who weren’t even running background checks before issuing concealed carry permits. So, this garbage you hear about how it is all about public safety — it’s not about public safety. Permits are and always have been about the money.”
Sorrell recently filed HB 404, Alabama’s Constitutional Carry legislation. This bill would repeal the permitting requirement for law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm in Alabama. Under HB 404, the permitting system would remain in place so Alabamians can still acquire a handgun permit for reciprocity purposes with other states.
Sorrell introduced this bill right after the Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1, Constitutional Carry legislation sponsored by Gerald Allen in the Alabama Senate.
“There’s no excuse for Alabama not to pass Constitutional Carry this year,” said Brenden Boudreau, Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights. “The members and supporters of the National Association for Gun Rights expect nothing less than Alabama becoming the nation’s 16th Constitutional Carry state this year and will hold any politicians accountable for standing in the way of this important legislation.”
In 2019, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kentucky passed Constitutional Carry. Alabama’s neighbor, Mississippi, passed Constitutional Carry in 2016.
Constitutional Carry is one of the hottest Second Amendment battles in current times and is one of the more notable policy successes for gun rights advocates.
José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.