Alabama Senate debates pistols in vehicles

MGN Online
MGN Online

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Supporters of a bill to extend gun rights in Alabama will have to wait until next week to see if they can muster enough votes to pass it in the state Senate.

The bill by Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale would allow people without a pistol permit to carry a loaded handgun in their vehicles. The bill topped the Senate’s work agenda Thursday, but it drew extended debate from Democratic senators opposed to it and other bills farther down the Senate’s work agenda. The Senate adjourned Thursday night after proponents couldn’t get enough votes to end opponents’ filibuster.

Beason got a law passed last year allowing people without pistol permits to carry the weapons in vehicles provided they are unloaded and out of reach. Alabama does not require a permit to carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in a vehicle, but a pistol permit is required to carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle. Beason, who is running for the 6th Congressional District, said it is time to extend Second Amendment rights.

“Law-abiding citizens will be able to protect themselves and their families,” he said.

In Alabama, county sheriffs sell pistol permits to allow people to carry loaded concealed handguns. The revenue goes to fund law enforcement and other programs.

Bobby Timmons, executive director of the Alabama Sheriffs Association, said the group opposes the bill because it could cause more cases of road rage and because fewer people would buy pistol permits, which would hurt law enforcement funding. Timmons estimated that about 80 percent of the people who buy pistol permits do it only to carry a loaded handgun in their cars for their commutes to work.

“Would you pay $20 for a permit if you could carry it for free?” he asked.

Beason said there is no data to prove that. “Personally, I don’t believe you should have to pay for your Second Amendment rights,” he said.

Republican Sen. Phil Williams of Rainbow City added an amendment to the bill saying it wouldn’t do away with any fees in place. He said he did it to try to protect law enforcement revenue, but he was unsure how it would be applied. Beason said he’s unsure of the effect, but he thinks it damages his bill.

Beason said he hopes to get the bill back up for debate Tuesday, the Senate’s next meeting day. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said that depends on whether Beason can gather enough commitments from senators to vote to cut off a filibuster. Beason was three votes short Thursday.

“Hopefully, we can get this worked out, but it’s late in the session,” Beason said.

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