MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – An overhaul of Alabama’s gun laws is on the way to Gov. Robert Bentley, who is expected to sign the proposal.
The House approved the final version 73-28 Monday afternoon, mostly along party lines, with Democrats and urban lawmakers on the losing side.
The vote settled on the major issues still lingering on the annual session’s final day.
Under the plan, employees would be able to have firearms in their cars at work, and businesses couldn’t be sued for any harm resulting from the use of those weapons.
Loaded weapons could be carried in cars by anyone with a concealed carry permit. A driver could carry an unloaded weapon, as long as it is out of reach, even without a permit.
Sheriffs would have to issue a written justification for denying a concealed weapons permit, and denials could be appealed. Sheriffs now have complete discretion over requests for permits.
The bill also keeps the prohibition on carrying weapons in many government buildings and in any public buildings where government bodies like city councils or county commissions are meeting.
The final details came from a compromise committee of representatives and senators who reconciled competing versions of the bill. The Senate had already approved the final version.
House sponsor Ed Henry, a Cullman Republican, told his colleagues that the end result satisfies the interests of gun owners, while protecting public safety. The National Rifle Association and Alabama law enforcement associations endorsed the measure. Sheriffs had opposed earlier versions that attempted to require that they grant all requests for concealed weapons permits.
The Business Council of Alabama, the state’s top business lobbying organization, was also involved in negotiations throughout the session but ultimately withheld its final blessing. BCA scored a victory with the provision to protect employers from civil liability. But BCA President William Canary maintained that business owners should always be able to set their own weapons policies for all of their property, including parking lots.
Legislators must adjourn for the year by midnight.
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