MONTGOMERY, Ala. - People would be able to carry loaded pistols in their cars without a concealed-carry permit under a bill proposed in the Alabama Senate.
"It's my opinion that you should not have to pay for your 2nd Amendment rights," Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale.
The proposal was supported in a public hearing Wednesday by gun rights enthusiasts but opposed by some in law enforcement. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote next week.
Current law says people can carry a pistol in a vehicle without a permit, but the weapon has to be unloaded, locked away and out of reach.
Beason said an unloaded weapon is of no use to the driver.
Bobby Timmons, executive director of the Alabama Sheriffs' Association, argued that a loaded pistol in the moving car is different than keeping a loaded pistol at home.
"I don't think anybody should be carrying a weapon down the road without going through a background check," Timmons said.
Timmons said the loss of permit fees was also a concern for counties.
Beason pushed the idea when Alabama lawmakers considered sweeping gun legislation last year. However, it was left out of a compromise bill that won final passage.
Lt. Michael Salomonsky of the Madison County Sheriff's Department said he feared the proposal would allow criminals to more easily transport guns. Salomonsky predicted a convicted felon would try to claim the gun, or guns, in the car belonged to someone in the vehicle with a clean record.
Beason disputed the idea that it could lead to more violence.
"There is nothing we can do about criminals. My goal, hopefully, is if a bad situation occurs, the law-abiding citizen will be able to defend themselves," Beason said.
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