Last week, the House of Representatives voted 65-37 on House Bill 272, which will allow Alabama citizens to carry concealed handguns without a permit.
Rep. Shane Stringer from Mobile County has three decades of law enforcement experience. His bill omitted the requirement that gun owners acquire a permit to carry a concealed handgun on their person, in their bags and in their vehicles in HB 272. With its passage, the bill will now be sent upstairs to the Senate for a vote.
Pistol permits would still be accessible from each county sheriffs’ office for other purposes. Such purposes would be the reciprocal agreements with other states and carrying guns in restricted areas. For instance, if you choose not to have a license in Alabama and you travel to Georgia and are stopped by law enforcement, you would be ticketed for not having a permit. This reason alone is enough to continue to get a permit for those who travel much.
“Permitless Carry” has become a catch phrase in the political arena with the Democrats and Republicans split on the controversial issue. Much of law enforcement is split on it too, with many of the state’s police chiefs and sheriffs having opposed the bill. Those officials say the permits are an important safety precaution for law enforcement officials.
Others say criminals don’t have gun permits so why does it matter if law-abiding citizens do? Maybe because it helps the law enforcement officials know the difference between the two?
One of the pro arguments is if the bill passes, law-abiding citizens will be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to carry a concealed handgun without having to pay for that right by purchasing a pistol license.
Some of the cons are that sheriff’s departments will no longer have a big percentage of their budgets which they need to run their departments. Also, they will be more endangered because they won’t know who is and is not a law-abiding citizen carrying pistols.
I have a five-year pistol permit, and I carry a handgun. I will continue to carry a handgun and will do so legally whatever that requirement may be. I’m just ready to know what it is. That too is my constitutional right.
Beth Chapman is Alabama’s former State Auditor and 51st Secretary of State. She now owns and operates Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC. This is her weekly column, “Around the Capitol” published in newspapers and blogs across the state. She can be reached at Beth@bethchapman.com.