Criminals, keep your guns at home: That’s what Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb wants, and he’s enacting some hefty punishments to make people think twice before possessing a gun while committing a crime.
Webb has signatures from Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson, Northport Police Chief Gerald Burton and University of Alabama Police Chief John Hooks supporting the gun present policy.
“If you have a gun while you are committing another crime, you are going to jail,” Webb said. “Period.”
Under the policy, anyone who is possessing a gun while committing another intentional criminal act in Tuscaloosa County will wind up in jail. That’s not limited to criminals who brandish or fire a gun during a crime. For example, you’d go to jail if you’re caught stealing from a store while there is a gun in your pocket — even if you never make the gun visible.
“This is not an illegal gun policy,” Webb said. “This is not a misused gun policy. That’s the reason for the name of it. It is the gun present policy.”
Webb said he hopes the policy sends a message to anyone thinking about committing a crime, because the goal is making Tuscaloosa County a safer place.
“If we can keep a weapon from being in the proximity of any potential crime, we are going to do anything we can do to make sure that happens,” said Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy. “Our responsibility is to keep our citizens safe.”
Many shootings happening within the county are not premeditated, Webb said. Instead, they’re crimes of opportunity. That’s something Webb said he’s hoping the policy will impact.
“A drug deal will go bad, someone’s girlfriend is disrespected and because a gun is present while other crimes are going on, the gun becomes an easy way out,” Webb said. “It becomes the solution to someone’s problem, and what we wind up with is bullets down the street, and bodies, and killing, and loss of loved ones, so it’s a big problem.”
Webb said he’s gotten plenty of support from Tuscaloosa County judges regarding the policy, which is already in effect.
Read the policy below: