MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - The National Rifle Association has its sights set on Alabama, urging its members to contact their legislators to support what's being called the "guns in cars" bill.
Should Alabama drivers be able to carry a loaded gun in their vehicle without a permit? That is the question law enforcement and state officials are at odds over.
"This bill would simply say that you do not need to purchase a concealed weapon permit to carry a loaded gun in your vehicle," said Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.
"If I was policing today, I would not check a car, abandoned car on the side of the road or would I pull one over if this bill passes without having my weapon in my hand," said Bobby Timmons, executive director of the Alabama Sheriff's Association.
Timmons says out of 67 Alabama counties, only three sheriffs support Allen's Senate Bill 14.
"I call it a road-rage kill bill because you pull them over, we don't know who's behind that wheel," Timmons said.
Although Timmons is a lifelong NRA member, he disagrees with the group's backing of what he calls a dangerous and unnecessary bill.
"Everyone in Alabama who legally owns a gun has already gone through a background check. These individuals can't always anticipate where a self-defense situation will arise, you just don't know it's impossible to know when you may need that firearm," said NRA Spokesperson Catherine Mortensen.
Current law requires handguns in vehicles to be unloaded and locked out of reach unless the owner has a concealed carry permit. The bill's sponsor says your vehicle is an extension of your home, and the NRA says the legislation removes additional government restrictions.
"If the bill were to pass, it would bring Alabama in line with every one of its neighboring states and the majority of states across the country. These states already allow for this so this is something that is widely accepted across the country, and it would bring Alabama in line with what other states are already doing," said Mortensen.
The bill would not allow those prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon to drive with one, like felons or those classified as mentally ill. It only applies to legal handgun owners.
The NRA says they've discussed some language to compromise with law enforcement but cite a lack of communication with authorities.
"Criminals aren't going to obey the laws. They're already not obeying the laws. That's what makes them criminals, and law enforcement officers are already trained to anticipate that there could be a gun in the vehicle, and they're trained accordingly on how to respond," Mortensen said.
The Alabama Senate has already passed Senate Bill 14. Now it's in the House's hands. It could come up in committee as early as next week.