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Alabama Senate passes permitless pistol carry bill

The Senate passed a changed version of a bill approved by the House last week, so the House will now have to concur with the changed version before it could become law.

(STOCK)

The Alabama Senate on Thursday in a 23-6 vote passed a bill that would remove the requirement for a person to obtain a permit to carry a concealed pistol. 

Repealing the need for those permits, which require background checks, would put law enforcement officers’ lives at greater risk, most law enforcement opponents of the bill said. Supporters of the legislation said Alabama lags behind the 21 other states with such laws and alleged that passages of them didn’t result in increased crime. 

House Bill 272, sponsored by state Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, would do away with the legal requirement for a person to have a concealed carry permit in Alabama, which is referred to as permitless carry or constitutional carry. The House passed that bill last week, sending it to the Senate for consideration, but since a substitute bill was passed in the Senate, the House must now concur with the Senate’s substitute bill before it can be sent to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature.

“The conservative party wants to defund the police. I can’t believe it,” Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said at the start of the day referring to the decrease in funds to sheriff’s offices if permits aren’t required. That revenue has been estimated at $5 million annually. 

Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, in the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday during debate on the bill, offered an amendment that would offer grants to sheriffs to replace the estimated $5 million in annual revenue lost by doing away with pistol permits. 

Another amendment was offered and approved Wednesday in committee that would restore private property rights and allow property owners to tell those carrying weapons that they aren’t allowed on their property. 

Singleton called out Republicans for attempting to take $5 million out of the state’s General Fund budget to pay for that loss of revenue. 

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“We’re gonna take from the general fund budget?” Singleton said on the Senate floor Thursday. “We’re taking that from hospitals? Nursing homes? We’re taking that from children at DHR?”  

Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, who was carrying the bill in the Senate, made motions to table both committee amendments, and both motions were approved in roll call votes. 

Scofield then introduced a substitute bill, to which Singleton asked the substitute to be explained. 

Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, said the substitute bill addressed points the original bill did not, including the property rights matter the committee amendment addressed, among several other points. 

Sen. Bill Beasley, D-Clayton, said he’s spoken to sheriffs who tell them they know when a person comes in for a pistol permit who should have one and who shouldn’t. 

“They could be a danger to themselves. They could be a danger to their family. They could be a danger to their neighbors” Beasley said. 

After several Democrats spoke at length on the bill, the Republican-controlled Senate Rules Committee made a cloture motion that would end the debate at 12:50 and allow for a vote. 

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Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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