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Legislature

State senator prefiles permitless concealed carry bill

Similar bills have failed in the past when faced with fierce opposition from county sheriffs and gun violence prevention groups.

(STOCK)

The Alabama Legislature is returning to Montgomery on Feb. 2 for the 2021 legislative session, and lawmakers are already at work prefiling bills. State Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, has pre-filed a bill that would allow for the concealed carry of handguns without a permit while removing other limitations on carrying in the state.

Senate Bill 5 would remove current restrictions on the carrying or possession of a handgun on certain property or in a motor vehicle by persons with or without a concealed pistol permit. Every citizen of the state who has not lost their gun rights would be able to carry a handgun concealed or in their vehicle without a concealed carry permit, often called a pistol permit.

Currently, all Alabamians, with certain exceptions, can open carry their handguns but must have a concealed carry permit from their local sheriff in order to carry a handgun concealed or in a motor vehicle. It is already perfectly legal in Alabama to carry a loaded long gun — like a shotgun or rifle — in a motor vehicle.

While Alabamians may open carry their handguns, current law requires them to unload their handguns and place them in a locked box out of reach, such as in a trunk whenever they enter their motor vehicle. Similarly to open carry, when they get out of the car, gun owners without a pistol permit have to take the gun out of the box and load it in the parking lot before going where they are going.

Persons who have lost their gun rights due to a felony conviction, having been confined to a mental institution or for a domestic violence conviction cannot possess guns or obtain a permit. This would not change that.

The bill would also revise certain restrictions on the carrying or possession of firearms at certain locations, including wildlife management areas. This bill also limits the ability of private property owners to restrict persons from carrying guns on their premises.

Allen has introduced a number of bills repealing the concealed carry permit requirement in recent years. Those bills generally face a firestorm of opposition from sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement agencies, and organizations like Moms Demand Action, a gun violence prevention group. The opponents claim that the permit requirement is a barrier against unstable people carrying guns and that repealing the requirement of a permit to carry in a motor vehicle would make it more dangerous for law enforcement officers.

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Gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association, Americans for Gun Rights and Bamacarry have supported this bill in the past. In previous legislative sessions, the Senate has approved Allen’s bills, but House leadership has never brought the bill to the floor. The bill normally gets buried in a House subcommittee.

Proponents argue that dangerous people aren’t stopped from carrying guns because of a concealed carry permit requirement.

SB5 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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

DIG DEEPER

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Opponents of the bill said doing away with those permits, which require background checks, would endanger the lives of law enforcement officers.

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The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet and consider SB1 and SB12 Wednesday.

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Opponents say the permits create opportunities to get violent criminals off the streets.