Alabama Senate passes constitutional carry measure

Tuscaloosa Republican Sen. Gerald Allen argues the Second Amendment should be all you need to carry a concealed handgun in Alabama. (Photo: Gerald Allen Facebook)

Tuscaloosa Republican Sen. Gerald Allen argues the Second Amendment should be all you need to carry a concealed handgun in Alabama. (Photo: Gerald Allen Facebook)

State senators on Tuesday sent legislation to the House that would allow Alabamians to lawfully carry concealed handguns in the state without a permit.

The measure, SB 24, to remove restrictions on Second Amendment rights and bring the state in line with others who codify constitutional carry as the law of the land, passed 26-8 along party lines.

“My goal is to remove unnecessary burdens on law-abiding citizens who own and carry guns, since most criminals and thugs don’t bother applying for a permit anyways,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.

Allen’s proposal would keep Alabama’s current concealed carry permitting scheme administered through county sheriffs in place, but erase the requirement to obtain such a permit. Permit holders would retain the advantage of being able to buy a gun without an additional background check as well as reciprocal carry in the states that currently recognize Alabama’s permits. Open carry is already legal without a permit.

Though SB 24 passed the senate with ease, the powerful Alabama Sheriffs Association is against the legislation, with a number of their members being increasingly vocal about their reasons for opposing it including Pickens County Sheriff David Abston who cited loss of revenue and Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin who feels it is a public safety risk.

Allen downplayed fears of lost income, saying “You will still need a permit if you’re going to legally carry a gun in other states, so I anticipate that a large majority of gun owners in Alabama will continue to purchase a permit from their local sheriff.”

The bill is part of the Senate GOP’s 2017 “Strengthen Alabama” legislative agenda of tax cuts and reform measures.

The proposal now goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for further consideration. Passage there without further amendment would place it on the desk of the state’s new governor, Kay Ivey, who assumed office last week following the resignation of two-term governor Robert Bentley. In 2014, while running for Alabama lieutenant governor, Ivey received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, who is supporting SB 24.