Alabama Legislature Approves Unlicensed Transportation Bill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama may soon become the last state to allow people to carry concealed handguns without first undergoing a background check and obtaining a state license.

The Alabama Legislature on Thursday gave final approval to a bill ending the requirement for a person to obtain a concealed carry permit to carry a loaded handgun concealed under their clothing, in a car or in a purse or bag. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey and will take effect Jan. 1 if signed into law.

“I don’t think just because you own a gun doesn’t mean you should have to pay a tax or a fee to carry it,” said GOP Rep. Shane Stringer, sponsor of the legislation.

The legislation is being championed by gun rights advocates who call it “constitutional porting,” in reference to the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms. Opponents, including state sheriffs and other law enforcement officials, said the permits help fight crime and improve public safety.

“You make it easy for the lawless,” Rep. Thomas Jackson, a Democrat from Thomasville, told Stringer during the debate.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 70 to 29 for the bill approved by a conference committee. The Alabama Senate voted 24-6.

There are 21 states that allow weapons concealed in public without a permit.

Opponents pointed to the already high rate of gun violence in the state. Alabama in 2020 had the fifth-highest rate of gun-related deaths — including suicides and murders — with 1,141 fatalities, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures.

“I remain very concerned about the increase in homicides and violent crime,” said House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, a Democrat from Huntsville.

The Alabama Sheriffs Association opposed the bill. In public hearings, law enforcement officials have said permits are a tool officers use daily to get guns out of the hands of individuals who shouldn’t have them in the first place.

A new state database is being developed to help officers report people who are prohibited from owning a handgun. Stringer, a former Mobile County Sheriff’s Department captain, said he thinks it would be a better system for catching people who shouldn’t have handguns. The president of the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association said he doesn’t believe the database will effectively replace the security checks provided by permits because of the inevitable gaps in data collection.

Lawmakers made several changes to the bill to try to alleviate some of law enforcement’s concerns.

During a traffic stop or other investigation, an officer who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person was about to engage in criminal conduct could temporarily pick up a handgun and run it through bases data to see if the gun was stolen. The officer might also check the person’s criminal history.

An officer may also temporarily take a weapon if a reasonable person believes it is necessary for the safety of the officer or others, but it must be returned unless there is an arrest or the person poses a security threat.

The legislation would direct up to $5 million in public funds to sheriffs’ offices to make up for lost license fee funding.


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