Once again, my home state of Alabama attempted to get votes for constitutional carry (otherwise known as “permitless carry”). But, sadly, once again, it died in committee. If that’s not enough to give law-abiding, responsible gun owners in Alabama a bad day, one of our own representatives decided to add some vicious name calling to the mix. In a committee hearing last month on Senate Bill 4, Vivian Davis Figures, the Democratic senator who represents Mobile, accused supporters of constitutional carry legislation of having “some mental problems.”
What Senator Figures Said
“[W]hy would you want to do certain things that really put people at greater risk?” Sen. Davis Figures asked rhetorically to guest speaker Todd Adkins of the NRA. “You even want to repeal a part of the law that’s in place now about carrying weapons into a demonstration, where everyone knows that the emotions are high … And we also know (Arizona) Congresswoman (Gabby) Giffords was actually shot during that time, during a demonstration. Why would you want to take away the presumption of intent? That somebody could just shoot someone else and not even have intent, to repeal that. I really don’t understand it.”
Of course, none of those concerns have anything to do with the bill, which would simply allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms without having to obtain a permit and pay the licensing fee. Permitless carry is something 17 other states have already passed, including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma (effective November 1, 2019), South Dakota (effective July 1, 2019), Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and the latest addition, Kentucky. (Side note: These 17 states have not descended into chaos and disorder or turned into the “Wild West.”) Constitutional carry legislation does not make it lawful for prohibited persons, including those adjudicated as “mentally defective,” to carry concealed firearms. It simply allows law-abiding citizens to carry as our Founding Fathers intended.
The senator then continued by stating, “I’ve always gotten an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association and that’s a proud ‘F’ that I receive … I just don’t understand the mentality of what you guys or — or what you guys continue to push to do. Particularly, with all the gun violence that is happening, to allow a person to be able to get a gun who has mental problems — to me that says the person who’s pushing that has some mental problems…”
What I Say
So, can someone out there explain how CCW permits will apparently help solve Sen. Davis Figures concerns? Are CCW permits magic “mental problem” solvers? As an Alabamian and as a responsible gun owner, I can tell you some interesting facts. First: Open carry is already legal here in our state without a permit. Why, then, would simply putting on a sweater or a jacket (and thus concealing that firearm) suddenly make you a criminal? Second: I can affirm that background checks are required when you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. Anyone with disqualifying mental health records — with or without the magic piece of paper — will not be allowed to continue his or her purchase and walk out of that location with a firearm. Third: Law-abiding gun owners are NOT the problem. Criminals are! And since the bad guys don’t go out of their way to obey the law and obtain said permits, how does requiring permits make any difference?
Besides that, how does supporting the Second Amendment and my right to self-defense with a firearm make me mentally ill? I support gun safety. And I support common sense. But both safety and common sense tell me that CCW permits do not solve violence issues. They provide funds for various law enforcement purposes, including things such as equipment, training, legislation, retirement and even salaries. And like I said, criminals don’t obtain CCW permits; law-abiding citizens do. Funny thing is, I’d still purchase my permit even if it weren’t required … because I would want to be able to keep up with state reciprocity.
It’s unsettling that so much nonsense is continuously being perpetuated about the need for CCW permits because of the mysterious, unfounded dangers of constitutional carry. Undoubtedly, the senator is clearly off-base with her assumptions, and she is very off-color with her comments. The responsibly armed who support permitless carry should not be shrugged off and insulted as having “mental problems.” We will continue to support the Second Amendment and protect it as best we can. As the Alabama state motto says, “Audemus jura nostra defendere.” (“We Dare Defend Our Rights.”)
About Beth Alcazar
Boasting several training certifications, including The Well Armed Woman, SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute and I.C.E. Training, Beth Alcazar is enthusiastic about safe and responsible firearms ownership. She has nearly two decades in the firearms industry and is a Certified Training Instructor and Senior Training Counselor for the USCCA and a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for the NRA. The associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth also uses her experience and degrees in language arts, education and communication management to author the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog. She is also the author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals.