By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, March 5, the Alabama Senate passed SB14, sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa). Sen. Allen said in a statement, “Tonight the Alabama Senate passed SB14, 26-7, which allows law abiding citizens to carry a handgun in their vehicle without having to purchase a pistol permit. You have a fundamental Second Amendment right to defend your family with a firearm. We shouldn’t require free citizens to get a pistol permit to defend their person and property, and that should include your vehicle. SB14 moves on the Alabama House of Representatives.”
Currently Alabama and North Carolina are the only Southern states where it is illegal to carry a gun in a vehicle, unless you purchase a concealed carry permit. The legislature attempted to fix this with the Omnibus gun bill, but the resulting compromise (a handgun can be in a car but it must be unloaded, locked in a box, and out of reach) satisfied almost no one.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) supports SB14. The NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) wrote: “Senate Bill 14 is important legislation that would recognize a law-abiding gun owner’s ability to possess a concealed handgun in a vehicle without first obtaining a government-issued permit. A majority of states already allow law-abiding gun owners to carry a loaded handgun in their vehicle for self-defense without government-mandated permitting and taxation. If an individual can lawfully own and possess a firearm, they should not have restrictions placed on their ability to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense outside of their home and in their vehicle.”
BamaCarry also supports the pro-gun legislation.
BamaCarry spokesperson Paul Arnold said following the bill’s passage, “Thanks for all you do Gerald Allen, now the fight for your Rights really starts.”
BamaCarry President Eddie Fulmer said, “Yesterday I was able to make the meeting in Winston County lead by Ron Alexander. I believe there were 67 in attendance! Before the meeting started I got the live feed from the Senate on my phone and was watching the voting on SB14. As the last vote was taken we were all listening live as SB14 passed! 27-7 was the final vote. Applause, applause!! Now the harder work starts. With opposition in the house committee that will most likely be handed this bill to decide if the house needs to consider it, we must make our voices known. It’s not enough to call the folks on the committee. We must call our lawmakers! We must tell them ‘We The People’ want you to do whatever is necessary to get this bill through. These legislators walk and talk in the halls of the Statehouse all the time, and they know each other. It’s time for our local reps to put pressure on the committee members for SB14 and SB304.”
The NRA wrote that Senate Bill 304 remains on the third reading calendar and will likely be taken up for a floor vote on Thursday. “Senate Bill 304 seeks to solve a disparity in concealed weapon license (CWL) fees between counties. SB 304 will accomplish this fix by allowing law-abiding individuals to apply for a permit in any county in the State.”
Under current State law, every lawfully owning gun owner may keep their weapon with them in their automobile; but it must be out of reach, locked in a box, unloaded. Alabama is an open carry state, meaning that it is perfectly legal to go to town with your gun strapped to your hip where everybody can see it. However it is not legal to have that firearm with you on your person in your car, unless you have purchased a concealed carry permit from your local sheriff’s office. Presently, to be legal, citizens who open carry without a permit have to take that weapon out of it’s holster, unload it, and put in a locked box, away from reach like a trunk, then reverse the process to leave the vehicle. Most gun owners recognize that there are difficulties with this regimen and purchase the concealed carry permit.
This is where the problem lies. The Alabama Sheriff’s Association is concerned that allowing lawful carry in automobiles could lead to more road rage incidents and more armed confrontations with motorists as well as fewer concealed carry permits sold and a loss of revenue for the Sheriff’s departments. Alabamians hold more concealed carry permits per capita than do residents of any other state so this is not an inconsequential amount of money.
SB14 advocates, like BamaCarrry, argue that this is not true. People that lawfully carry now will renew their permits to keep the option of carrying concealed they argue.
In the 2015 regular session, the bill passed out of the Senate; but languished in a House Committee for weeks and was never made a priority by House leadership. Gun advocates hope that SB14 is not reliving that scenario in the 2016 legislative session. Efforts by Senator Allen to introduce the measure during the two special sessions over the summer also met with no ultimate success.
The NRA and BamaCarry hope that both the Senate and the House will move rapidly to get this legislation out of committee and to the floor.