Alabama Senate committee approves permitless concealed carry bill
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gun owners are one step closer to being able to carry a concealed weapon without a permit in Alabama. Wednesday morning, the bill passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee and now heads to the Senate floor.
Alabama sheriffs and other law enforcement have already made it clear they don’t support permitless carry due to public safety, while lawmakers have additional concerns.
However, the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Tim Melson, reminded members of the committee that the bill wouldn’t completely remove permits.
“This piece of legislation does not do away with permits. If you look at those other states they continue to purchase those permits,” said Melson.
During the meeting, sheriffs once again shared their concerns of public safety.
“I know one of my deputy sheriffs in Lee County used it yesterday to apprehend an individual. The initial charge was carrying a pistol without a permit, which is required under current law,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.
But some lawmakers also expressed discomfort with the legislation. Sen. Rodger Smitherman says he worries it could increase incidents of racial profiling.
“The last time I got profiled was right out there on Main Street in Montgomery, headed to the Legislature three blocks away,” said Smitherman.
Smitherman says the bill could make profiling easier for law enforcement.
“Innocent until proven guilty, then I should’ve been not asked for my driver license because I should’ve been not asked for my driver’s license because I should be innocent because the only reason I was stopped because of the profiling,” he said.
“If they stopped him for a legitimate purpose, I don’t think it stops him from doing background checks on him. They can still run their license and other things. You want to have the ability, no matter what, to run the serial number on a gun?” said Sen. Gerald Allen.
But in the end, as many expected, the bill received a favorable report from the committee and heads to the Senate floor. There will be a public hearing on the House version of this bill on Feb. 9.
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