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As Alabama lawmakers gather this week to start the 2022 regular session of the Alabama Legislature, among the priorities established by the Republican majority is the elimination of pistol permits in Alabama.

Alabama is already an open-carry state, which means those legally allowed to own firearms can carry their guns in plain view, with the exception of schools and courthouses, without a permit. Those who want to carry weapons concealed from view must purchase a pistol permit from the local sheriff’s office, which performs a background check on the applicant.

Many GOP lawmakers want to do away with the permit requirement. Every sheriff in Alabama opposes the proposal.

Proponents say the sheriffs are “concerned about their money.” That’s a specious argument; if the revenue stream from permit fees evaporates, the sheriffs’ likely reaction would be to turn to their county governments to replace the lost revenue with tax funds.

What’s more likely to concern sheriffs – and other law enforcement officials across the state – is the elimination of an albeit tenuous accounting of firearms in the community.

Further concerning is a component of one bill that would remove school sporting events from the off-limits list, allowing guns into the crowds at competitive sports contests. That’s inviting tragedy.

Before lawmakers take such a drastic step with regard to firearms in our state, they should give the concern of law enforcement officials the weight it deserves in their deliberations, as well as the safety of children and families at sporting events, and the peace of mind of Alabamians who are less than comforted by the sight of a deadly weapon strapped to the waist of random shoppers in the grocery store.

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