House lawmakers in Alabama scheduled a hearing Wednesday for a constitutional carry proposal nearly identical to the one passed in the Senate earlier this month.
Rep. Isaac Whorton, R-Valley, told The Birmingham News Tuesday he expects a close vote in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on his bill, which will be amended to match the Senate version approved last week.
“This bill applies to citizens who are lawfully armed and would simply make the permit voluntary instead of mandated by law,” he told the newspaper in an email.
“It’s unthinkable that you have to pay a fee for a constitutional right,” Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, told the newspaper last week. “That’s really the heart of the whole issue.”
Allen sponsored Senate Bill 24, which passed on a party-line vote of 26-8 last week.
Neither bill would do away with the state’s current concealed carry permit, but rather make it an optional process for gun owners. Whorton said obtaining a permit will still be important for carrying across state lines.
Senate Democrats and the Alabama Sheriffs Association oppose the legislation because of its perceived public safety risks and revenue lost in the permitting process.
“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,” Allen said last week.