WAAY 31 I-Team Investigation: Concealed carry rights & responsibilities

Having a gun is a basic constitutional right. WAAY 31 talked with firearm experts who argue that right comes with a powerful responsibility.

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 4:37 PM
Updated: Nov 27, 2018 5:29 PM

In this WAAY 31 I-Team investigation, we take a close look at what it takes to get a concealed carry gun permit. We examine not only the right to get a permit, but the responsibilities that go along with it.

Last month in our viewing area, a 10-year-old boy found a gun in his father’s vehicle and accidentally killed his twin sister. That was just outside the Shoals in St. Joseph, Tennessee.

Back here in Alabama, a student took a gun to Blossomwood Elementary and accidentally shot another student in the hand. The student who brought the gun took it without his father's knowledge. That man is a felon who clearly never should have had the gun in the first place.

We had already been talking with a former FBI agent about what he considers gun owners’ responsibilities that go above what Alabama law requires.

We also talked with a woman who started carrying a gun for her own protection.

“I literally realized how much goes on in this city that I didn’t know went on,” Susan Sims told WAAY 31.

We caught up with Sims at Larry’s Pistol and Pawn. Her eyes were wide-open to the crime happening around her in Huntsville when she started working as a gun seller and pawn broker.

She wasted no time getting a concealed carry permit “to follow the law because I do like to carry a gun in my vehicle when I travel.”

Sims insists getting a concealed carry permit is only the first step. “I think you have to be a responsible firearm owner,” she told us. “Just going out with your friend or significant other to shoot, they may not teach you the safety you need to know.”

A recent Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study shows seven states -- West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee -- have a disproportionate share of unintentional firearm deaths.

“I’m a retired FBI agent. I spent 32 years in the FBI,” Ed Marshman told WAAY 31.

Marshman puts his FBI experience to use training people at his shooting MTC Training Range. It's just off I-65 near the Alabama Tennessee state line.

“Obviously, I believe in firearms," Marshman said. "I like firearms. I don’t want to have a lot of gun control regulations.” Still, Marshman sees a serious need for education and training even if Alabama law doesn’t make it mandatory.

"You need to school yourself and to learn," he told WAAY 31. "You've got a responsibility to yourself, to your family, to your neighbors and to the community."

The most recent information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows in 2016 in Alabama, there were 18 accidental deadly shootings. In Tennessee, there were 17.

Compare that to the fifty state average of nearly ten.

"Alabama requires a permit to carry a weapon concealed," Marshman explained. "However, there is no training requirement. There is no classroom training requirement. And there is no minimum qualification course you have to shoot."

Alabama issues more concealed carry permits than any other state. About 20 percent of adults have permits. The basic requirements: you must be a resident, be 18 and agree to background checks. Like the vast majority of other states, there's no real obstacle standing in the way of your 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

“Everybody has the right to carry and have it," Marshman said. "But, along with that right comes responsibility.”

Across the state line, Tennessee does require a concealed carry permit course. Part of that training includes learning about the use of deadly force under Tennessee law.

"The law tells you what you can do," Marshman told us. "More importantly, you need to know what you should do."

Knowledge could save your life or keep you out of legal trouble. Marshman’s mantra: avoid, escape, defend.

He gave us this example: "You're in the back of your house in the kitchen. Two guys bust through your front door. Yes, legally you can stay there. But, you shouldn't. You should, if you can go out the back door and go to your neighbor's house, you should leave." Marshman underscored that advice. "The only gunfight that I can guarantee you won't lose is the one you don't get into."

Training helps you avoid shooting an innocent bystander and figure out who’s the real bad guy. Muscle memory may be your best weapon. "Can you shoot on the move?," Marshman asked. "Can you shoot quickly? Can you shoot one-handed? Can you shoot in low-level light conditions?"

Back in Huntsville, Susan Sims backed up what Marshman said. “Training and practice," she said, tops her list of shooting priorities. "Don’t come and take a class and think that’s all the training that you need and you’re protected. You’re not.”

Gun safety is so important to Sims, she now teaches it. Sims says a concealed carry permit comes with a powerful responsibility. “If you have a firearm, you have to keep other people safe.”

Sims also told us gun safes are critically important, especially with children in homes. But, she adds having access to your gun is also critical. She recommends a biometric safe you can activate with your fingerprint.

Huntsville
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 71°
Florence
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 72°
Fayetteville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 68°
Decatur
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 69°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6030162
Mobile4418137
Montgomery4339109
Tuscaloosa254448
Madison19078
Marshall186611
Shelby150924
Lee149437
Morgan12205
Baldwin111410
Walker105127
Elmore98919
Dallas9639
Franklin92216
Etowah88214
DeKalb8416
Chambers65727
Russell6570
Autauga65313
Butler64328
Tallapoosa61669
Unassigned58626
Limestone5741
Houston5526
Cullman5395
Lauderdale5376
Lowndes48022
St. Clair4692
Colbert4656
Pike4595
Escambia4528
Calhoun4365
Coffee4074
Covington39911
Jackson3742
Bullock37010
Barbour3672
Dale3621
Talladega3497
Hale33722
Marengo33011
Wilcox2968
Clarke2946
Winston2893
Chilton2872
Sumter28512
Blount2731
Pickens2556
Monroe2492
Marion24514
Randolph2449
Conecuh2277
Perry2091
Bibb2081
Macon2069
Choctaw20212
Greene1928
Henry1433
Crenshaw1273
Washington1277
Lawrence1170
Cherokee1127
Geneva920
Lamar811
Fayette781
Clay742
Coosa621
Cleburne411
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 57591

Reported Deaths: 710
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby12842214
Davidson12549138
Rutherford332638
Hamilton308837
Sumner180256
Williamson159115
Trousdale15055
Knox14719
Out of TN125610
Wilson109917
Putnam9897
Bradley8894
Robertson88213
Sevier8633
Unassigned8372
Lake6970
Tipton6746
Montgomery6587
Bledsoe6251
Bedford5959
Macon5466
Hamblen4224
Maury4203
Hardeman3814
Fayette3463
Madison3402
Loudon3081
Rhea2940
Blount2803
Dyer2743
McMinn25718
Cheatham2522
Dickson2430
Washington2120
Lawrence2026
Cumberland1964
Anderson1782
Sullivan1782
Lauderdale1723
Gibson1581
Jefferson1571
Monroe1466
Smith1392
Coffee1340
Cocke1260
Greene1232
Hardin1207
Obion1182
Haywood1112
Warren1060
Franklin1043
Marshall1042
Wayne990
Hickman980
McNairy911
Marion904
Giles801
Lincoln800
White803
Hawkins792
Carter771
DeKalb760
Roane750
Weakley691
Overton681
Campbell651
Grundy652
Henderson620
Claiborne610
Unicoi560
Chester530
Carroll511
Polk510
Grainger500
Crockett483
Henry480
Cannon450
Johnson440
Sequatchie430
Jackson410
Humphreys382
Meigs350
Perry350
Morgan291
Decatur280
Stewart260
Fentress250
Scott220
Union200
Houston190
Clay180
Moore170
Benton151
Hancock100
Lewis100
Pickett70
Van Buren70

 

 

Community Events