By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Governor Kay Ivey’s campaign released a statement this week attacking her opponent, Democratic nominee Walt Maddox, over his past record with gun control policies while mayor of Tuscaloosa.
Ivey specifically points to instances when Maddox and the City Council banned guns in city-owned facilities in Tuscaloosa.
When reached for comment, Maddox’s campaign said they continue to stand by their “common-sense gun policies” and says he fully supports the second amendment.
Ivey’s campaign first points to Maddox’s decision in 2006 where the Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously voted to ban any city employee from bringing a gun into a city-owned building like City Hall.
In defense of the measure, Maddox said, “this ordinance is designed to provide security to City Hall, which has been lacking in many areas.”
Tuscaloosa leaders went forward with the ordinance even though a 2001 opinion from then-Attorney General Bill Pryor said such a measure was unconstitutional, according to The Tuscaloosa News.
The opinion states that restricting the gun use of state residents is not up to municipalities and should only be decided by the state legislature.
Maddox took it a step further in 2010 by initiating an executive order that banned any citizen from bringing a gun into any city-owned facility.
This move towards more gun-control policies in Tuscaloosa was not in response to any form of gun-violence that was seen in any city facility but was after Maddox received communications from advocacy groups that implied a large number of people might show up at a City Council meeting armed.
“I’m going to proceed in what I see as in the best interest of the city,” Maddox said. “The current executive order reflects the concerns and recommendations of the Tuscaloosa Police Department.“
Ivey’s campaign also pointed to two times when then-Attorney General Luther Strange stepped in to ask the Bobby Miller Activity Center and the Tuscaloosa Public Library to take down their “no firearms allowed” signs from their buildings because it was in “violation of Alabama law.” (the letters from Strange are available here and here.)
Guns, of course, have been a hot-button issue this election season. The massacre in Las Vegas and the deadly Parkland High School shooting have raised the stakes of the gun debate and inspired activists to push political leaders for stricter gun controls.
On Wednesday, the “March for Our Lives” campaign came through Alabama and stopped in Birmingham and Montgomery. The students and activists demonstrated in the lobby of the State House because the Legislzture is not in session and security rules do not allow mass protests without advance notice. Instead, the students staged a sit-in where they started chanting things like “vote them out” and “USA not NRA.”
The Legislature declined to take up gun control legislation during the 2018 regular session but did debate various proposals to allow teachers or school administrators to be armed to respond to an attack. No bills were passed, but in May, Ivey used executive authority to create the Alabama Sentry Program through which administrators in schools without police resource officers could be trained and certified to carry firearms. State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey issued guidance about the program to school districts last week.
Maddox’s proposal for more “common sense gun laws” may not be as radical as other liberal politicians have suggested, but Ivey knows that in a state where half the population owns firearms, painting Maddox as anti-gun cn be an effective tactic.
In response to Ivey’s attack, the Maddox campaign said, “It’s not surprising considering the condition of the state in many vital areas, that Kay Ivey is obviously doing anything she can to distract voters.”
His campaign said that instead of focusing on issues that are consuming the political rhetoric nationally and are not necessarily the main issues in Alabama, Ivey should instead address the problems facing Alabamians currently.
“She’d rather they focus on national and Washington issues because if people focus on the fact that Alabama is ranked near the bottom in nearly every vital category, they will realize we need a new governor,” Maddox’s campaign said.
Caroline Beck is a reporter for Alabama Daily News living in Montgomery. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineBeckADN or email her at [email protected]