By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, May 21 saw a lot of movement on gun bills in the Senate. Senate Bill 14 was passed by the Alabama Senate. SB14, sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen (R from Tuscaloosa), would allow Alabama gun owners the right to have a loaded gun in their vehicles without having to purchase a concealed carry permit from their county Sheriff’s Department.
Senator Gerald Allen wrote on Facebook, “Senate Bill #14 passed the Alabama Senate today. SB#14 moves on to the Alabama House of Representatives. Senate Bill #14 will protect the fundamental right of law abiding Alabama citizens to self defense while in his/her vehicle. All the states that touch the borders of Alabama do not require a pistol permit to carry in their vehicles. A vehicle is extension of your home and you should have the right to defend yourself in your vehicle without having to buy a pistol permit.”
Jennifer L Montrose with the West Alabama Republican Assembly wrote on Facebook, “Alabama SB14 Permitless Conceal Carry Gun Bill sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen passed the Senate and is on it’s way to the House floor next. We need to burn up the House phones!!!”
Alabama Foundation for Limited Government President former Senator John Rice said in a statement, “SB#14 moves on to the Alabama House of Representatives. Senate Bill #14 will protect the fundamental right of law abiding Alabama citizens to self defense while in his/her vehicle. All the states that touch the borders of Alabama do not require a pistol permit to carry in their vehicles. A vehicle is extension of your home and you should have the right to defend yourself in your vehicle without having to buy a pistol permit.”
The Omnibus Gun Bill of 2013, SB286, allows Alabama citizens to have a gun in their vehicle; but that weapon must be unloaded and stored in a locked box away from easy reach of the people in the vehicle. SB286 allowed Alabamians to open carry their firearms; but anytime they get in a vehicle they have to unload and lock the gun away, unless they purchase the concealed carry permit.
Most Alabamians who want to legally carry their weapons (open carry or concealed) purchase the concealed carry permit. The Alabama Sheriff’s Association opposes SB14 on the assertion that it would make traffic stops potentially more dangerous for law enforcement officers and because potentially fewer concealed carry permits would be sold hurting sheriff’s departments that rely on that revenue source. Alabama residents reportedly purchase concealed carry permits at the highest rate of any state in the country. Supporters of SB14 dismiss that argument since they argue that even people who prefer open carry will still want to have the ability to conceal carry as circumstances dictate. Even putting a rain coat on for example would take someone from lawfully open carrying to illegally concealed carrying (unless they have the concealed carry permit).
BamaCarry co-founder Eddie Fulmer wrote on Facebook, “Please don’t forget to thank Gerald for his efforts. We still have more to go but he’s worked for this one.”
SB14 must still be given a favorable report by the House Committee where it is assigned by Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn). Then the House Rules Committee must set it on the House calendar for the full House to vote on the legislation before this legislative session runs out of time.
Also on Thursday, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee voted 9 to 0 to give a favorable report to a new substitute version of HB47. HB47, which is sponsored by state Representative Christopher John England (D from Tuscaloosa) addresses a number of issues concerning gun owners.
The Alabama Gun Rights Network (AGRN) wrote that the substitute bill for HB47, “Has passed out of Committee and been presented to the Senate floor for passage. While there are minor changes to our written proposal, AGRN supports the substitute as presented, and looks forward to passage and signature by Governor Bentley. Advancing our rights is a slow, tedious process. AGRN is committed to restoring those rights, no matter how long it takes. While working on seeing HB47 through to passage, AGRN is already at work on legislation for the 2016 session. We thank you for your continued support!”
The newest version of HB47 was changed to address some of the concerns raised by BamaCarry members and lawmakers at a public hearing on Tuesday. The bill now awaits action by the Senate. The legislation will still have to go back to the House for concurrence if the substitute version is passed by the Senate.
Some Second Amendment activists are still concerned that the legislation as written could create new restrictions on gun rights in Alabama.