A Senate Constitutional carry bill has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB2 passed the committee Wednesday morning with a favorable vote of six in favor and four opposed, with one abstention.    

SB2 allows for the carrying of a concealed weapon, loaded and on your person without having to acquire a permit, which carries a licensing fee.

The bill was proposed by Sen. Gerald Allen (R – Tuscaloosa), who has a companion bill (SB12) to be voted on at a later time. 

Sen. Roger Smitherman (D – Birmingham) opposed the bill, discussing his own experiences with racial profiling. Smitherman claims he has been racially profiled at least five times, claiming he was guilty of “driving while black.” He also discussed the guns and mental health issues he experiences in his hometown. Despite his racially profiled experience by law enforcement, Smitherman said that he supports law enforcement and believes that gun permits increase public safety.

“We want tensions to be eased when we have these encounters," said Smitherman. "These are things that ease tensions when [police] come up to these situations. I live in the hood. I know what goes on. If we don’t support being safe, then it’s going to fall on us to have citizen patrols. That’s gonna end up happening."

DJ Parten with the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR) took to the podium to speak in favor of SB2.

"At the heart of these bills is the idea that our Second Amendment rights, our right to self-defense, should not be subject to the whims of the state,” Parten said. “The concept of Constitutional carry is simple. Constitutional carry laws recognize the right of every law-abiding citizen to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, on their person or in their vehicle without having to receive government permission in the form of a mandatory permit. As you know, you can already carry a firearm openly in the state of Alabama without a permit. All this legislation does is allow you to put a jacket on or get into your vehicle and not be charged with a crime.”

Parten claims that states who have passed identical legislation have not seen a drastic increase in gun crime or violent crime against law enforcement. Nor has there been any causative relationship between Constitutional carry and violent crime in the states which have legalized Constitutional carry.

“It’s well past time for Alabama to join the ranks of constitutional carry states," Parten said. "Law-abiding citizens who are allowed to carry their firearm, openly or concealed, without government intervention, reduces crime. That’s a fact. It’s been proven time and time again. You need look no further than the FBI crime statistics.”

Dana Ellis, a volunteer with Mom’s Demand Action (MDA), a gun-control advocacy group working with the Alabama Sheriffs Association, spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“Research shows that states that have weakened their firearm permitting systems have experienced an 11% increase in handgun homicide rates and a 13 to 15% increase in violent crimes,” Ellis said.  

Sen. Vivian Figures (D – Mobile) also voted against the bill, speaking on the gun violence in her own district.

“Here we are again, another gun bill wanting more freedom to use firearms or to carry them,” Figures said. "And it’s at a time when gun violence is off the charts. I know in Mobile, every time you turn the news on, there’s another shooting."

Figures discussed her suffering with PTSD from a person shooting at her home while she was away.

"I personally now know what PTSD is, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody else. Praise God I wasn’t in the house cause I don’t know what I would be like now,”  Figures said.

Sen. Greg Albritton (R – Atmore) abstained from voting on the bill, saying he was siding with law enforcement in his district.

“Every one of my sheriffs is against it,” Albritton said.

The bill will continue to be debated and voted on by the House and the Senate.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.