Alabama Political Reporter
Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on SB354, a bill that its sponsor, Gardendale Republican Senator Scott Beason, says is merely an extension and necessary addition to gun legislation passed by the legislature that he introduced last session.
The bill would provide that carrying a pistol in a vehicle without a permit be legal.
Senator Beason, who recently announced he will run for the US House of Representative seat vacated by the retiring Spencer Bachus of Vestavia Hills, explained that the bill just makes it the law in Alabama that no one will be required to “pay for their second amendment rights.”
While many Senators, including cosponsor Phil Williams expressed their support of the bill in general, they said that they would like to see certain “concerning” aspects of the legislation be amended, without changing the overall thrust of the bill.
Several lawmakers expressed reservations over some particular language in the bill that provided that, with the car and gun owner’s express permission, any citizen could be allowed to lawfully have the gun in the car, despite any convictions they may have.
Another concern expressed by committee members and those who testified was that a person in possession of a gun illegally in a car (due to felony convictions, etc.) could say that the gun was lawfully in the vehicle because of another passenger.
Beason said that any changes needed to clarify that that type of situation would not occur would be fine by him.
In the public hearing, all but one proponent of the bill were members of Bama Open Carry, a group devoted to second amendment protections. They pointed out something that recurred again and again in the meeting, that is the ever-present issue of a loss in pistol permit revenue that may occur from the legislation.
Because of there being no need for a concealed carry permit if the legislation were passed, some, including the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association, say that revenues from these types of permits would drop significantly at a time when local law enforcement budgets are already severely constrained.
While Senator Scott Beason acknowledged that there may be a decrease in revenue, he made clear that there should be no financial requirement on one’s second amendment rights, and that in many cases, fund from pistol permit sales go to things like “passing out anti-gun stickers across your districts,” which he views as a useless waste of taxpayer dollars.
Another issue a representative from the Sheriffs’ Association brought to the forefront was road rage. “I know I get it,” he said. “And you’ve got a gun, and I’ve got a gun.” Tempers may flare, and bullets may fly, he suggested. “They may give you a shot instead of a bird.”
Highlights of the hearing can be seen here.
The 17 cosponsors of Senator Beason’s legislation are Senators Allen, Glover, Whatley, Fielding, Smith, Bedford, Sanford, Scofield, Marsh, Holtzclaw, Pittman, Williams, Blackwell, Reed, Hightower, Bussman, and Holley.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee include Chair Cam Ward, Vice-Chair Jerry Fielding, and Senators Taylor, Figures, Keahey, Orr, Smitherman, Whatley, Williams, and Reed.