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After a shaky week in the legislature, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed permitless carry into law. 

House Bill 272 (HB272) by Rep. Shane Stringer (R–Mobile) removes the requirement for Alabamians to acquire a permit to carry a concealed pistol on their person or in their vehicle.

Gun rights activists are praising the legislation, calling it a victory for Second Amendment rights.  

“This is a great day for gun owners in Alabama as their constitutional right to bear arms without government infringement will soon be restored,” said Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights. “And it’s thanks in part to the tireless work of National Association for Gun Rights members in Alabama lobbying their lawmakers – demanding Alabama become the next constitutional carry state.”

The NRA released a statement praising Ivey for signing the bill into law.

“As she stated she would, Governor Kay Ivey has acted quickly and just signed House Bill 272, constitutional carry, into law. As a result of a multi-year effort, Alabama is now the 22nd constitutional carry state, and the first state to pass and sign constitutional carry in 2022. Law-abiding citizens will soon be able to exercise their right-to-carry without having to buy their rights back from their sheriff at exorbitant cost and go through the associated red tape and delays.”

Alabama becomes the 22nd state to approve concealed carry without a permit.

The bill was opposed by the Alabama Sheriffs Association and others in law enforcement, who say the permit requirement is an important public safety tool.  Democrats in the House and Senate have opposed the bill as well, arguing that it will increase gun violence and citing the concerns of sheriffs.

Permitless carry has been circling the Alabama legislature for years. In previous sessions, permitless carry made it through the Senate but never through the House.

Finally, on Feb. 22, for the first time ever, a permitless carry bill passed the House of Representatives, and supporters of the bill breathed a sigh of relief.  

Many saw the approval of the Senate as a forgone conclusion. The Senate voted a substitute, which included many amendments they had offered in committee.

On Wednesday, the House refused to concur with the Senate’s substitute, leaving many to fear for the future of the legislation. 

On Thursday, members of the House and Senate convened to resolve their differences on the bill. A substitute was approved by the conference committee and was approved by both bodies. The bill was sent to Ivey, who signed it Thursday afternoon.  

“Unlike states who are doing everything in their power to make it harder for law-abiding citizens, Alabama is reaffirming our commitment to defending our Second Amendment rights,” Ivey said. “I have always stood up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and I am proud to do that again today.”

The substitute bill cleared up many of the supporters’ concerns with the Senate’s version of the bill and eased the opponents’ concerns.

The final version of the bill maintained the obligation for a citizen to inform a law enforcement officer of the presence of a firearm on their person or in their vehicle, often called a “duty to declare.”

It also created a system wherein a law enforcement officer may relieve a person of their weapon if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the person has committed or is planning to commit a crime. The officer may also relieve a person of their weapon if the person presents a threat to themselves, the officer, or the public. 

The final version of the bill addresses the carrying of a concealed weapon on private property without the express consent of the owner or caretaker of the property. The Senate substitute was criticized for being too ambiguous. Many thought it would leave citizens open to frivolous arrest or criminal prosecution for not receiving permission from a property owner before carrying a weapon onto a property. The final bill keeps the current laws on private property intact. A person or business may prohibit someone from carrying a gun on private property. However, the person could only be charged with a crime if they refused to leave the premises when asked.

“I am deeply thankful to my colleagues in the legislature for passing this constitutional carry measure, which allows Alabamians to exercise their fundamental rights without first having to pay a gun tax in the form of permit fees,” Stringer said. “Those who still wish to purchase a permit for reciprocity with other states or other reasons continue to retain that option under this law. The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, riots in major cities across the nation, rising crime rates, and other factors have made securing and protecting our Second Amendment rights more important now than ever before. Alabamians understand that Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and activist judges want to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms for their own protection even while the criminals among us thumb their noses at the gun laws already on the books. Constitutional carry shields average Alabamians from attacks on their gun rights and provides them an added layer of protection against the lawless who may wish to do them harm.”

Although the bill has been signed into law, it will not go into effect until January of 2023, so all current laws must be observed until then. 

No permit is required to openly carry a handgun in Alabama. A permit is required to carry a pistol in a vehicle unless it is unloaded and locked up, out of reach of the driver and passengers.

In 2021, the Legislature passed a new law creating a statewide “prohibited persons” database. The database was created to ease the concerns of sheriffs when the idea of a lifetime permit was offered in the legislature. The database allows law enforcement to know who is prohibited from owning a firearm instantly. However, the new bill does not require a person to inform an officer if they have a weapon.

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

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