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Senate committee approves permitless carry bill


The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to give a favorable report to a permitless carry bill—also called constitutional carry by its proponents—which would allow all Alabama adult citizens who have not lost their gun rights to carry their weapons concealed without having to purchase a concealed carry permit.

Senate Bill 1 is sponsored by State Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.

BamaCarry, Alabama Gun Rights, the National Association for Gun Rights and the National Rifle Association all have advocated for legislation allowing Alabamians to carry their weapons concealed without a concealed carry permit.

Alabamians can already carry their weapons openly without a permit; but carrying a handgun in a purse, a book bag, under a jacket, or loaded in a vehicle requires obtaining a concealed carry permit, also called a pistol permit. Alabamians may carry a loaded rifle or shotgun with them in their motor vehicles without the permit; but to carry a handgun with them in their car, without a permit, requires unloading the gun and locking it in a box out of reach. It is a misdemeanor under Alabama law to carry a handgun concealed without a pistol permit.

In 2017, that legislation passed the Senate but was buried in a committee in the House as time ran out on the session. In 2018, that bill did not even get out of the Senate. In 2019 it did not get out of Committee in the Senate.

Chris McNutt with NAGR testified that 15 states already have constitutional carry.

Gun owners argue that their rights to possess firearms are guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that they should not have to pay for a permit in order to exercise their rights.

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The Alabama Sheriffs Association opposes the legislation. They argue that the concealed carry permit makes a police officer’s job less safe. Sheriffs also fear a loss of revenue from selling the permits. Advocates argue that gun owners will still purchase the permits in order to travel outside of the state.

The Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, opposed permitless carry.

Permitless carry is being carried in the Alabama House of Representatives by State Representative Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals). Sorrell told the Alabama Political Reporter that he already has 20 house cosponsors for his gun bill and expects to get more.

“Lawmakers who support eliminating the permitting system that keeps us safe don’t stand for Alabama voters,” said Dana Ellis volunteer leader with the Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action. “What this comes down to is responsible gun ownership. If you want to carry a concealed gun in public, you should go through a background check.”

Moms Demand Action claims that “Alabama’s permitting system is incredibly effective — without requiring too much time or money, it ensures those carrying concealed handguns in public have gone through a background check. Permitless carry, on the other hand, makes it easy for domestic abusers and other people with dangerous histories to carry loaded handguns in public.”

Twenty percent of the adult population in Alabama already have a concealed carry permit, by far the highest percentage in any state.

The bill can now be considered by the full Senate.53

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

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