MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Senate approved a bill to eliminate the permit requirement for concealed carry of a handgun in a straight party-line vote. The bill was introduced by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), who has introduced similar bills in past sessions.
“Alabama should be leading the way on constitutional gun rights. More than ten states across the country already allow their citizens to carry guns without a permit. It’s time we give our citizens the right to bear arms without first seeking the government’s permission,” Allen said back when he pre-filed the bill in January. “We already allow open carry without a permit, and there is no logical reason for continuing to require a permit for concealed carry.”
While Allen’s bill would remove the legal requirement of needing a permit to carry within the state’s borders, Alabamians could still acquire permits to carry in states such as Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida that reciprocate Alabama’s concealed carry laws.
The bill would still allow property owners to maintain their right to create their own “gun-free zones,” and prohibitions would remain on concealed or open carry in most government buildings and at athletic events.
Attempts to loosen Alabama’s permit rules have previously failed. Law enforcement associations, primarily county sheriffs’ offices, have lobbied against changes because they are the chief recipient of the fees gun owners must legally pay to obtain a permit.
Currently, to receive a permit, a gun-owner must undergo a background check from the Sheriff’s Office and pay a fee that varies from county to county. In 2015, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor (D) said that local sheriffs “know” things about their constituents that gives them “a pretty good feel for their constituents and their county and who should and should not have a permit.”
“We know things that the computer can’t tell us,” he said. “We know things about our citizens. We know who’s going through a divorce. We know who’s in a bad time, who may be drinking too much, who may be abusive, but hasn’t necessarily crossed the line of a crime. But in our opinion, they don’t need a pistol permit.”
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.