There was a time when Second Amendment advocates would have loudly cheered the passage of a bill establishing a lifetime concealed carry license, but in a year in which at least four states have adopted Constitutional Carry language, the measure seems like a very small state forward, especially from such a Second Amendment-friendly state like Alabama.
It’s not that the bill approved by the Alabama Senate is a bad piece of legislation, per se. It just seems fairly weak compared to the moves made in other states this year.
Senators voted 25-6 for the bill by Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, that would allow the lifetime permits as well as create a statewide database of people prohibited from carrying firearms. The bill now moves to the Alabama House.
The legislation comes after previous efforts to abolish the permit requirement failed under opposition from law enforcement officials.
“Any Alabamian who can legally purchase a handgun should be able to obtain a lifetime concealed carry permit, but bad actors and individuals deemed prohibited from obtaining this permit should be registered and flagged as such,” Price said in a statement.
Under the bill, people would be able to purchase permits that last for a year, five years or a lifetime. The lifetime permits would cost $300 or $150 if the applicant is over age 60.
The $300 fee for a lifetime permit is also fairly pricey, though the Alabama Sheriff’s Association actually wanted the fee set at $500 for the permit. The National Rifle Association had lobbied for a lower fee of $200, and the Senate ended up basically splitting the difference, though the 2A organization says it was successful in “adding a rebate clause for anyone who is required by their sheriff to purchase a 1 or 5-year permit prior to purchasing a lifetime permit, which in most circumstances, brings it to the original goal of $200.”
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for debate, and while there’s a possibility that the measure could be amended to lower the fee down to $200, the sheriffs’ association will be lobbying hard to keep the fee where it is or even raise the cost back up to $500.
The Senate’s approval of the bill comes as Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a Constitutional Carry bill, while a similar permitless carry bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee in Tennessee this week. Already this year both Utah and Montana have adopted Constitutional Carry language, and when Lee puts pen to paper there’ll be 20 states, or 40% of the country, that now recognizes the right of legal gun owners to both keep and bear arms without a government permission slip.
By comparison, the Alabama legislation just seems like weak sauce. Sure, it’s an improvement over the existing law, but scrapping the requirement for a license entirely would have been a much bigger and better step forward. It’s clear that the biggest roadblock to Constitutional Carry in the state is coming from the state’s sheriffs, and I hope that Second Amendment advocates in the state start lobbying their local sheriffs to either support Constitutional Carry next year, or start backing new candidates that recognize that Alabama can do much better when it comes to protecting and strengthening the right to keep and bear arms.
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