House committee approves permitless carry bill

Alabama lawmakers debate constitutional carry bill (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 2:48 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Taking away the requirement of a permit to carry a concealed weapon is a heated debate between Republican lawmakers and law enforcement in the state. And Wednesday, the bill received a favorable report, but there were lots of questions from lawmakers about the two amendments.

The first would require someone to declare if they have a firearm in their vehicle if asked by a police officer and the other seemed to create separate penalties for bringing firearms into areas where they are currently restricted – but lawmakers couldn’t really comprehend this themselves.

“It amazes me that you got a bill like this, this gone back and forth between the attorneys. And the sponsor of the bill can’t explain it,” said Rep. Allen Farley, vice committee chair for the House Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The bill doesn’t get rid of permits, only the requirement. But Farley says in other states that have similar legislation, permit sales have decreased.

“Texas passed in 2021,” said representative Farley. “Their applications have fallen off 87%.”

Farley also noted Kentucky permitless law passed in 2019 and their permit sales fell 33%.

Farley is concerned that this would essentially defund some sheriff’s offices, and the sheriffs agree.

“A lot of the sheriffs around the state utilize those funds to help run their departments, to help acquire equipment that helps to keep their community safer,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.

Community safety is another point of disagreement surrounding this bill proponents say it’s a non-issue because a permit or other restrictions won’t stop criminals from committing crimes.

“We cannot legislate it an evil heart from Montgomery,” said Rep. Sane Stringer, sponsor of HB272.

While the opposition says the concerns from law enforcement are valid.

“There are some law enforcement officers out there who believe that that ability to see that pistol and take it and inquire about it makes them safer,” said Rep. Chris England.

“Any cop who that thinks that anything to do with this bill or the permit system makes them any safer has got a misconception,” said Stringer.

Stringer suggests this bill could actually make things safer.

“It’s going to be adding a prohibited person database,” said Stringer. “That’s going to give law enforcement another tool to help keep them safe.”

And Stringer added that background checks and other systems will still be in place that law enforcement use, but the law enforcement still disagrees saying permits are needed.

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