Grover has street cred to oppose gun bills

Published 12:09 am Saturday, March 2, 2013

If Grover Smith wants to rail against two bills currently before the Alabama Legislature, he has plenty of standing.

The current Escambia County (Ala.) sheriff is a former president of the sheriff’s association, a former police chief, and the former executive director of the chief’s association.

That gives him plenty of street cred for speaking against HB55 and SB129, which would take away the discretion sheriffs have in issuing concealed weapons permits. The bills would also outline civil penalties for elected officials and police officers, and remove the prohibition of carrying firearms at public demonstrations and on another person’s property. The legislation also would require sheriffs to give permits to non-citizens.

The bills are being promoted as security for the Second Amendment rights of Alabamians, which puts legislators in a bad spot if they vote against it.

As he’s worked to encourage opposition to this bill, Grover has pointed out that he believes in the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms. He just believes that all rights are limited.

And he’s used this example. If the Klan decided to hold a rally, they could bring their guns. If the Black Panthers decided to oppose the Klan rally, they, too, could bring guns. Law enforcement would have no grounds for disarming people, and really could take no action, until someone was shot.

He’s also concerned that people could carry weapons to ball parks, where tempers often flare. And if a union went on strike? The strikers could bring guns into the business place for negotiations.

Personally, I don’t want any of my friends in law enforcement to have to diffuse trouble in any of those situations.

Grover said he has denied permits in the past. And he’s asked a lot of people if they know someone who has been denied a pistol permit who hasn’t gotten one. So far, he hasn’t found anyone with a case to argue.

“These bills are an all-out attack on public safety,” he told a group earlier this week. “It will change the world as you know it.”

The state’s associations of sheriffs, county commissions, police chiefs and district attorneys have voted to oppose the bills. But that doesn’t give legislators – who have proven this week they can act nimbly and almost in darkness – cover from those who would interpret a “no” vote, a vote to protect public safety, as an anti-gun-rights vote.

Remember I said Grover had plenty of standing for opposition? He was shot in the line of duty last year.

“If this bill passes, I’ll probably go sell watermelons and turnip greens,” he said. “Because I won’t want to be in law enforcement.”