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Gun rights organization plans to hold convention

Katherine Owen

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Eddie Fulmer, a regional coordinator for Alabama Open Carry and the organizer for the Alabama Gun Rights Tuscaloosa Meet Up on Saturday, July 21 at the Northport Civic Center, said he was upset the shooting in downtown Tuscaloosa had to take place just days before the gun rights event.

“I’m upset it happened this week, but then again, people need to take their own self-preservation into their own hands,” Fulmer said.

The gun rights event is set to start at 10 a.m. A Facebook event for the meet-up shows 1,917 guests invited and 133 attending. Guests will attend two classes, “Handgun Self-defense” and “Gun Law in the State of Alabama.”

“This will be the biggest Gun Rights/Freedom/Open Carry meet-up ever in the state of Alabama. This is as grassroots as it gets guys,” Fulmer wrote on the Facebook event’s description.

Fulmer said the goal of the gun rights event is to educate law-abiding citizens about their right to carry weapons and their other constitutional rights, as well.

“My thinking is if there was a law-abiding citizen [at Copper Top], he might have been able to stop some of that,” Fulmer said. “It’s your responsibility to protect yourself. It’s law-abiding citizens’ responsibility to protect themselves.

“Everybody has a different opinion,” Fulmer said. “I’m of the opinion that people should take note that if they had some kind of defense, they might have been able to protect themselves more. In my mind, it just makes me want to carry more.”

Fulmer said he has openly carried a gun for more than two years and has received only compliments for it.

Fulmer added that Alabama Open Carry by no means condones mixing alcohol and weapons, and that he views the shooting downtown to be to be a “foolish and cowardly” act.

“Taking guns out of the hand of law-abiding citizens will not prevent events like [Monday] night,” Fulmer said. “I don’t think gun control has anything to do with it. What you had was a person who was evidently unstable, but he is not a law-abiding citizen.”

John Monroe, the vice president of Georgia Open Carry, will be the main speaker at the gun rights event. He said he does not see the shooting on Monday night to be related to gun control.

“No, I don’t really see how they are related,” Monroe said. “A random shooting isn’t really different from any other random act of violence.”

Monroe said he thinks people already have established views on gun control that would not be altered by an individual event.

“I think most people already have a set of beliefs or philosophy regarding political issues including gun control,” Monroe said. “I don’t think isolated incidents would have an impact on people’s view.”

In a Tuscaloosa News article published Feb. 21, 2012 about Alabama Open Carry, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson told Tuscaloosa News he agreed with Fulmer that citizens have the right to carry a weapon openly, but felt there were places where openly carrying was inappropriate. He said individuals openly carrying would be treated respectfully, but they would be challenged by police officers to make sure they have the right. He said certain citizens, such as felons, do not have that right.

When asked whether he thought the conversation being held at the gun rights event would be constructive for the community right now, Mayor Walt Maddox said he thought it was important not to overreact.

“It’s important that we separate our emotions, then look at the facts and make sure all the facts have revealed themselves,” Maddox said. “I think it’s premature to make any assumptions about policy decisions 24 hours after an incident like this.”

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Gun rights organization plans to hold convention