After a long back-and-forth fight, pistol permits are no longer required by law in Alabama.
Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law Thursday afternoon after the House and Senate worked out a bill in conference committee that both chambers could get enough votes to pass.
The House concurred with the conference committee substitute on a 70-29 vote and the Senate followed by approving the bill 24-6.
“Unlike states who are doing everything in their power to make it harder for law abiding citizens, Alabama is reaffirming our commitment to defending our Second Amendment rights,” Ivey said. “I have always stood up for the rights of law abiding gunowners, and I am proud to do that again today.”
The bill removes the legal requirement for Alabama citizens to obtain a permit for the concealed carry of pistols under most circumstances. However, the permits will remain available and will still be necessary to concealed carry across state lines.
The bill had largely been opposed by law enforcement groups, who have said that permits assist officers in removing guns from criminals.
The sponsor, Rep. Shane Stringer, R-Citronelle, said a new database of persons prohibited from carrying firearms will be a better system than permits, and that removing the permit requirement lifts a burden on Alabamians’ Second Amendment rights.
“I am deeply thankful to my colleagues in the Legislature for passing this constitutional carry measure, which allows Alabamians to exercise their fundamental rights without first having to pay a gun tax in the form of permit fees,” Stringer said in a statement.
The Alabama Sheriffs Association said they had denied 6,000 permits last year.
Critics argued that the bill will endanger the public and officers.
“Governor Ivey and all of the lawmakers who voted yes on this reckless legislation have chosen the gun lobby over law enforcement and public safety,” said Paula Wilson, a volunteer with the Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action. “They want you to believe that they’re standing up for law-abiding gun owners, but don’t let them fool you. They’ve done the exact opposite — putting our families, communities, and first responders at greater risk. They’ve made us all less safe today, and they know it, because law enforcement has told them so. They’ve chosen not to listen.”
The Senate amended the bill originally passed the House to require motorists carrying a pistol to share that information with an officer during a traffic stop and prohibits them from touching the weapon while the officer is present. If the officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the driver is committing a crime or that the gun is putting the officer or public in danger, the officer would be allowed to run a background check.
The bill also includes the creation of a grant program, starting with a $5 million allocation, to replace revenue that could be lost now that the permits are no longer required.
The bill goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023.