LEE COUNTY, Ala. — The bill that would eliminate the requirement to have a permit in order to carry a concealed handgun is set to come up before the Alabama House of Representatives after the Senate passed it with a 25 to 8 vote.
State Senator Tom Whatley (R-District 27) has been in favor of the bill from the get-go. Senator Whatley says this bill protects the constitutional right to bear arms.
“It was silly to me that we’re an open carry state already, where I can open carry without a permit,” Sen. Whatley says. “If I put a jacket on, now I have to have a permit. It just did not make much sense. This bill only removes the requirement for the permit. Background checks are still in place, and we actually believe there will be an increase in the amount of permits issued.”
Senator Whatley says lawmakers have seen the number of permits go up in states that are constitutional carry states.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says the majority of law enforcement is against the bill, because they say it presents a public safety issue.
“We feel like our job, the oath we take is to protect the public,” Sheriff Jones says. “That’s a big part of what we do, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to do our job. Being opposed to that bill, in my opinion, is doing exactly what we are tasked with doing and doing everything we can to provide for the public’s safety.”
Sheriff Jones says the conceal carry permits are another tool to keep the public safe. He says when someone without a permit gets arrested, a weapon is taken off the street, possible injuries are prevented and there is the potential to solve other unrelated crimes.
Sheriff Jones says a public hearing on the bill is set for Wednesday before the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee in Montgomery. He adds members of the law enforcement community plan to be in attendance to express their disapproval.