A gun ban enacted by the Morgan County Commission for 13 buildings last week may not last until the end of the month following complaints by residents.
Commission Chairman Ray Long said he will ask commissioners to rescind a unanimous vote on a resolution that designated the 13 county buildings as courthouse annexes that prohibit weapons.
“If we make a mistake, we’re certainly not too proud to admit it,” Long said Friday.
The next commission meeting is June 25.
“I believe we really didn’t think it through,” Long said. “People bring garbage to the environmental services office. Some of those people probably wear guns. We don’t want to them to think they’re criminals if they don’t go home and unpack.”
Long said he even had some senior citizens who frequent the senior centers speak out against the designated annexes.
“I received several phone calls questioning why we did what we did,” he said. “One fellow said his mother always carries. He said she was going to have to make a choice: to quit going to the senior center or to break the law and go.”
He said in today’s society the elderly are taking steps to protect themselves and “we don’t want to infringe on anybody’s rights.”
“You see people on TV trying to rob the elderly,” Long said. “It’s a different world than it was 20 or 30 years ago.”
District 2 Commissioner Randy Vest said he was surprised at the pushback, too.
“We've had some seniors contact us and said that they actually conceal carry and have some issues with (the vote),” he said. “They said they (carry) for security, and they want to comply with the law. If we keep that in place, they feel like they’re breaking the law. They’d rather have the option (of bringing a weapon). I didn’t realize the impact it was going to have.
"At the moment, I think we ought to take feedback from the general public and talk with more seniors about what they want.”
Aaron Smith, a spokesman for Alabama Second Amendment, said he smiled when he heard the commission might reconsider its action. He said he thought the commission overstepped its authority with Tuesday’s vote.
“My initial reaction was they were violating the law, precedent set by past attorneys general opinions and the spirit of the law,” said Smith, who lives in the Caddo community in East Lawrence. “I saw it as an overreach and a move that made people less safe by not allowing them to legally defend themselves. I’ll be satisfied when the vote happens and these facilities are no longer labeled as annexes.”
The buildings designated as annexes are the Morgan County Archives, Parks and Recreation, Engineering, Animal Control and Environmental Services offices, the District 1, 2 and 3 shops, and senior center sites at Falkville, Neel, Union Hill, Lacey’s Spring and Somerville.
Long said the District 4 office was designated as a courthouse annex several years ago because it houses a tag and license office, where more money might be in the office.
Long said he won’t post "no weapons allowed" signs anywhere in the county.
“If you have weapons just make sure they’re legal,” he said. “If they come to the annexes, we might ask them to not take them out. We’re certainly not anti-guns. I’ve got weapons myself.
“What we were doing was legal. But we didn’t realize how many people this would affect.”
Long had said Tuesday that part of the motivation to designate the buildings as annexes was the May 31 shooting at a municipal complex in Virginia Beach, Virginia, that left 12 people dead including the shooter, who was a disgruntled city employee.
As annexes, those sites must follow courthouse policies, including not allowing weapons.
A spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday that Morgan County was within the law by having the newly designated sites follow courthouse policies.