The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 17, 2013

Local law officials oppose proposed gun law changes

By Jean Cole

— A local community college student is working the graveyard shift at a Limestone County convenience store.

He is nervously watching a car parked in the lot, which has been lurking for more than an hour. Fearing the car’s occupant plans to rob the store, he telephones the Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies arrive, question the driver and find he has an unregistered pistol in his vehicle.

Deputies arrest the man for packing an unlicensed gun, which is not allowed under current Alabama law, according to Sheriff Mike Blakely.

Under a proposal to change the state’s concealed-carry gun laws, the driver could simply tell the deputies he was on his way to the firing range and no arrest would be permitted, Blakely said.

The sheriff offers another scenario, and this one occurred recently.

A man who pulled a gun on another man more than two years ago but remained clean since is seeking a concealed-carry permit, Blakely said. Remembering the past incident, the sheriff denies the request for the permit. The following weekend, members of the man’s family call the Sheriff’s Department to report that the gun-permit seeker is overmedicating with Xanax and painkillers, is paranoid and is threatening to kill family members and officers who come to the house, the sheriff said.

“Under the proposed bill, I’d have to give him a (concealed-carry) permit, even though I know he has issues,” Blakely said.

Senate Bill 286 requires, among other things, that a concealed-carry permit “shall be issued unless the sheriff determines, based upon documented, specific actions of the person, where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner that would endanger the person’s self or others.”