The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would allow Alabamians who still have their gun rights to purchase lifetime concealed carry permits. Senate Bill 308 is sponsored by state Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika.
SB308, as substituted, establishes the Alabama Uniform Concealed Carry Permit Act. The lifetime concealed carry permit would cost $300. The original version of the bill had a purchase price of $200, but the Alabama Sheriffs Association argued that that amount was too low so senators raised it to $500 in committee. The National Rifle Association objected to that amount as too high, so the Senate settled on a compromise number of $300.
Currently, most sheriffs departments do background checks before issuing concealed carry permits, but every sheriff runs his department a little differently. SB308 would standardize the process statewide. All fees for concealed carry permits and the paperwork necessary to obtain them would be standardized and that would include the background checks. The ATF had cited the state previously for some sheriffs issuing the pistol permits without performing the background checks.
Not everyone has to pay $300 to get a permit to carry their handgun concealed or in a vehicle. Alabama citizens may also purchase one-year and five-year permits from their county sheriff.
If you have been committed to a mental institution, have been convicted of a felony or have been convicted of domestic violence, you lose your gun rights. This bill creates a state firearms prohibited person database that will be maintained by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Democrats objected to the bill, saying that it could lead to more guns on the streets and more gun violence. The Republican supermajority had to swat aside a Democratic filibuster to pass SB308. Some gun rights groups object to citizens having to get a permit for exercising their Second Amendment rights.
The Mississippi Legislature in 2016 passed permitless carry legislation that allows Mississippians to carry their guns concealed without having to ask permission from the state. The Tennessee Legislature recently approved a similar law, and Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign it into law. Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Northport and Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, have both introduced permitless, or constitutional carry, bills in the Alabama Legislature, but the Alabama Sheriffs Association has opposed that legislation. Those bills do not appear to be moving out of committee at this point.
Alabamians are free to open carry their handguns and regular Alabamians going about their business at the grocery store, in restaurants or walking down the street with a handgun strapped to their waist is perfectly legal and normal in the state. Legally, they are required to unload that weapon and put it in a locked box out of reach of the driver when they get in a vehicle or even on a motorcycle unless they have their concealed carry permit.
Alabama does allow residents to carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in their vehicles without a concealed carry permit. SB 308 now goes to the Alabama House of Representatives for its consideration.