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House passes bill allowing veterans, active-duty military to get free pistol permits

A man drawing a conceal carry pistol from an inside the waistband holster IWB.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday that would allow active-duty military and veterans who received an honorable discharge to pay nothing when they apply for a concealed carry permit

House Bill 208 is sponsored by State Representative David Standridge, R-Hayden.

Under existing Alabama law, it is a misdemeanor to carry a handgun concealed without a permit from your local sheriff’s pistol permits. Alabama law considers a firearm as being “concealed” if it is in a motor vehicle, covered by clothing, or in a purse or luggage. Alabama does not require a permit to open carry a handgun. Alabamians may carry long guns, including in their vehicle, without a permit. A handgun, however, must be unloaded and placed in a locked box away from reach in order for an Alabamian to have the gun in their vehicle unless that person has a concealed carry permit.

Standridge said that HB208 would exempt active-duty military and honorably discharged veterans from having to pay fees to get their pistol permits.

State Representative Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley, said, “Thank you for doing something to reduce fees.”

Standridge added an amendment so that if an active-duty soldier loses their active duty status or are dishonorably discharged they would lose their pistol permit.

Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said, “Some poor county sheriffs could not survive without the pistol permits.”

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Rep. Thomas Jackson, R-Thomasville, said, “I got a problem with giving away free pistol permits even to veterans.”

Standridge replied, “This applies to less than ten percent of the adults in Alabama. That is the highest rate in the country.”

Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, asked, “What about those guys with PTSD?”

“They still have to go through background checks,” Standridge said. “They would still have to go through the same process as anybody else they just haven’t don’t have to pay a fee.”

Rogers said, “A lot of these mass killers are military. Their wives hide their guns from them at night because they wake up after being in combat and they think they are still fighting.”

House Bill 208 has passed 95 to 0. The bill now goes to the Alabama Senate for their consideration.

HB208 was part of a broader package of military appreciation bills that the House passed on Tuesday. The legislature is making an effort to make the state of Alabama more military friendly in order to help the state retain and attract military installations and military. The state’s military bases have an enormous contribution to the Alabama economy.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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