The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to give a favorable report to allow citizens the option to add their own names to the list of people who are barred from purchasing a firearm.
SB376 is sponsored by state Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose.
The bill would create the “Voluntary Alabama Firearms Do Not Sell List” that Alabamians could ask to have their name put on.
Presently, there are federal background checks where convicted felons and people who have previously been involuntarily committed to mental asylums are on a list of persons who may not hold a concealed carry permit or purchase firearms.
Pittman said that his plan is entirely voluntary and later if somebody wanted to have their name removed from the list they could so, but they would face a 21 day waiting list
Dr. Frederick Vars with the University of Alabama said that 20 percent of the populace has some sort of mental illness. A voluntary firearms do not sell list would allow someone who was having violent thoughts or suicidal impulses to protect themselves by putting themselves on a list prohibiting them from being able to purchase a gun.
Dr. Vars referred to the case of Cheryl Hannah who voluntarily checked in to mental hospitals twice. The second time she got out she went and bought a gun and killed herself with it. With this bill, people like Hannah could make it harder for themselves to have access to firearms.
The University of Alabama professor said that 58 Americans die each day from gun suicide and 70 percent of Alabama suicides are with guns. If you make them wait a couple of weeks many will change their minds. Only 10 percent of people who survive a suicide attempt actually die from suicide. It would also bring down the homicide rate.
State Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, asked how Pitman came up with the $5000 per weapon fine for selling a weapon to someone on the list.
Dr. Vars said that the $5000 penalty mirrors the federal penalty.
Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, asked, “How many other states have this in place?”
Dr. Vars answered none but it is on the desk of the governor of Washington, a Democrat, and he is expected to sign it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee gave SB376 a favorable report on a five to three vote.