A bill passed through the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that would change gun laws in the state. The bill would allow citizens to carry loaded handguns in their vehicles without need of a permit. The bill passed through the Judiciary Committee on a 6-2 vote.
Gun control is a hot button issue in the US at the moment. The issue flares up in the national media every time there is a mass shooting. The issue took off with the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary, where dozens of young children were killed by a gunman with a semiautomatic weapon.
Democrats and Republicans are generally split on this issue. Democrats favor more gun control, such as a ban on assault rifles, and background checks at gun shows. Republicans favor the status quo, and some even want less regulation than we have now. The bill being considered by the Alabama legislature would relax rules that are currently in place.
States controlled by Democrats have been working to tighten gun laws. The Obama administration has been pushing to do so at the federal level. However, Republican controlled states, such as Alabama, have been working to weaken existing gun laws and expand gun rights.
Last year, Alabama passed SB 286, which expanded gun rights in the state. The law allowed citizens to carry weapons in their vehicle at their place of employment, regardless of their employer’s position on the matter. The law made it legal to carry an unloaded handgun in one’s car without a permit, as long as the weapon was locked in a container and out of the reach of the driver. The pistol permit system was also changed from “May Issue” to “Shall Issue,” which guaranteed a response to a pistol permit application within 30 days.
Law enforcement have come out against the new bill. They cite concerns over public safety in opposing the law. Loaded handguns in vehicles could potentially make their job a lot more dangerous. Law enforcement was mostly against SB 286 as well.
Proponents point out that criminals do not follow laws in the first place. They say that restrictions only put law abiding citizens more at risk, making it harder for them to defend themselves. A law abiding citizen is not a threat to an officer when they are pulled over for a traffic stop.
Given the passage of SB 286 last year, this new law has a strong chance of being passed as well. The Alabama Legislature is controlled by Republicans, who generally favor relaxing gun laws. Alabama is already an open carry state, and allowing loaded weapons in vehicles is one of the last major hurdles the gun lobby is looking to overcome.