By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The NRA sent out emails to its supporters urging them to call their State Senators to urge them to support the Omnibus firearms bill, Senate Bill 286.
SB 286 passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan 7 to 1 vote. According to the NRA the bipartisan omnibus firearms bill could be considered on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday, April 2.
The NRA said, “Please contact your state Senator TODAY and respectfully urge him or her to support SB 286, along with any pro-gun amendments proposed by the bill sponsor or cosponsors.”
SB 286 is sponsored by Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale and cosponsored by Roger Bedford (D) from Russellville.
The Omnibus Firearms Bill would prohibit employers from banning the otherwise lawful possession, transportation or storage of firearms or ammunition that is kept out of sight within a locked or attended private vehicle of employees on the parking lot of the employer. This bill would allow employees to carry a firearm during their commute to and from work.
Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford said in a written statement, “As a lifelong hunter and NRA member, I believe that legal and responsible gun owners should be able to have their firearms out of sight and locked up in their cars to give them safety to and from work in case of a breakdown or other emergency.”
This portion of the legislation is strongly opposed by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and their spokesperson, Billy Canary.
Sen. Bedford said, “We have been working across party lines to build support for this legislation, and I hope that Billy Canary and the Business Council will recognize the importance of gun ownership.”
The bill would also repeal the requirement to obtain a pistol permit in order to carry a pistol in a vehicle. A concealed carry permit would still be necessary for concealed carry in a vehicle.
SB 286 shifts the current “May Issue” concealed carry permit system to a “Shall Issue” permit system and requires that a sheriff must issue the carry permit within thirty days. If for some reason the sheriff still denies someone a pistol permit the sheriff must explain his action in a written denial. That applicant would also have the right to appeal the decision before an appeals panel. Some sheriffs have opposed this provision of the bill.
SB 286 creates an option for a concealed carry permit that shall be good five years. The applicant seeking the carry permit would be able to decide whether he wants a one year permit or the five year permit. The five year permit could cost no more than $50. Some Alabama Counties now charge as much as $30 for a one year permit.
The sheriffs would use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to conduct a background check on concealed pistol permit applicants. The Omnibus Firearms Bill would allow all other valid state-issued permits to carry a concealed firearm to be recognized in Alabama.
According to the NRA, SB 286, “Strengthens Alabama’s firearms preemption statute by reserving for the state legislature complete control over regulation and policy relating to firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories in order to ensure that such regulation is applied uniformly throughout the state.”
The bill is a major test for the NRA. While most Republicans (and many Democrats) like to tell voters that they are strong supporters of gun rights, many legislators fear angering the BCA and their deep pockets. The House has tabled gun legislation for weeks rather than vote for a bill that Canary objects to.