MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
The committee voted 6-3 for the bill Wednesday after a fiery public hearing in which some state sheriffs spoke both against and in favor of the bill. The bill by Republican Sen. Gerald Allen now moves to the Senate floor.
State Senator Tom Whatley (R-District 27) of Auburn was one of the six who voted in favor of the bill. Whatley said that folks can still apply for permits if they are worried about reciprocity in other states. Whatley also added that this bill would strengthen Second Amendment rights.
“All we’re doing is removing the requirement for a permit, and the constitution talks about not infringing on someone’s Second Amendment rights,” Sen. Whatley said. “We’re already an open carry state, so you can carry without a permit, and I don’t see what the difference is why you would be illegal when you put your coat jacket on as to when you take your coat jacket off, you’re illegal.”
Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson, president of the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association, says it is bad legislation and bad for public safety.
Capt. Michael Salomonsky of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office says the permits are a crucial tool to help solve crimes and determine who could be a criminal suspect.
“Why would you want to repeal a law that helps us to protect the citizens in our county?” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. “I think my job and the job of all these law enforcement officers out there that I work with is to do our best to protect our communities. If you take a law away that hampers our ability to do that, you’re hurting public safety, and that’s the basis of our opposition.”
Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says people already go through a background check when they buy a gun.