As the National Association for Gun Rights lobbies Alabama lawmakers for the passage of permitless carry legislation, another national organization has dedicated resources to the state to make the public case for constitutional carry.
House Bill 44 and House Bill 66, sponsored by State Reps. Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) and Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle), respectively, have gained traction with the Republican-led legislature as more than 40 members of the House GOP Caucus have signaled their support for constitutional carry.
While virtually mirroring one another, Stringer’s bill is expected to be the legislation that is taken up by the lower chamber. Stringer last year was fired from his post in the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department for his support of the efforts.
Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian-leaning student activist organization, has embarked on a grassroots campaign encouraging the citizenry to ask their elected legislative representation to support the gun rights measure. The organization earlier this month launched its door-to-door canvassing campaign to raise awareness on the merits of constitutional carry.
Yellowhammer News recently spoke with Young Americans for Liberty program legislative coordinator Ben Heckman, who has been on the ground speaking with Alabamians about the issue, regarding the organization’s grassroots campaign in Alabama.
According to Heckman, although some have expressed skepticism over constitutional carry, the organization’s message has been well-received among the majority of individuals he has come in contact with.
“Most of the time, people are quite excited for this bill. It’s a pretty brief interaction I have with them… Most people seem very enthused,” advised Heckman. “Every now and then, someone is against it. They support the Second Amendment, they say, but they do think there needs to be a permit. Every now and then, you’ll knock on the door of a police officer, and they definitely don’t support it.”
He added, “We’re knocking on everybody’s door. I’ve knocked on a couple Democrats’ doors. My girlfriend knocked on a libertarian’s door the other day… and every now and then you’ll get an independent. Mostly it’s Republicans though.”
The Alabama Sheriffs Association has come under fire of late from constitutional carry advocates after it publicly expressed its opposition to the legislation. Passionate about defending the Second Amendment, Heckman takes issue with sheriff’s departments forcing citizens to pay permit fees in order to legally carry a handgun in public.
“The sheriffs’ offices in the state, they profit off of giving out these concealed carry permits. Every sheriff in the state of Alabama takes an oath to the constitution and the Bill of Rights when they become sheriff, when they’re elected to that position,” Heckman told Yellowhammer News. “Every sheriff in the state of Alabama who is forcing citizens to abide by this government permit process is in direct violation of their constitutional oath, they are violating the Second Amendment. They’re in direct violation of the ‘shall not be infringed’ part of that amendment.”
He added, “I hope they understand that if they want to abide by their oath, they need to stop issuing these permits and forcing people to abide by them. I think that’s the most important thing to come out of this. Sheriffs and our police officers are there to protect our freedoms, not to violate them. And so I think they need to stop violating them in this scenario.”
Heckman told Yellowhammer News that the student activist group began its work in Fort Payne and is currently making its case for the legislation in Huntsville. The organization intends to take its gun rights campaign throughout the state.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL