The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 21, 2013

Area officials react to jury decision in Zimmerman verdict


State laws

With a majority of voting Alabamians considering themselves Republicans and Second Amendment advocates, the likelihood of seeing the state’s self-defense laws overturned seems unlikely.

Republican State Sen. Bill Holtzlcaw, R-Madison, said he would not support such a move.

“(I’m not for) anything limiting your ability to stand your ground or defend your home or business,” he said. “This is the wrong state to bring that up.”

Holtzclaw describes himself as a staunch Second Amendment advocate who was “thoroughly embroiled” in the Legislature’s decision to expand gun rights during the last session.

“I’m a gun advocate when I speak to groups, but I’m also an advocate of people knowing the law and practicing and training in realistic conditions,” he said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘I’ve got a gun,’ but it’s another to be prepared mentally and physically to use it.”

When asked about the possibility of state laws governing neighborhood watch groups, Holtzclaw said those groups should continue to work with local police departments to establish guidelines.

Neighborhood watch

Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said neighborhood watch groups serve a valuable purpose because his officers can’t be in every neighborhood at all times. He knows of at least six watch groups in the area, though he admits there may be more.

“We try to make them aware that if they see something, they should let us handle it. If there’s something going on, just watch it and let us know,” he said. “You don’t know if (the suspicious person) has a gun or any type of weapon. We also deal with the unknown, but the difference is, we’ve had a lot of training and we deal with people day in and day out.”


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