MONTGOMERY, Ala. (March 11, 2022) – Yesterday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill legalizing permitless carry in the state despite strong law enforcement opposition. The enactment of this so-called “constitutional carry” bill will also foster an environment more hostile to federal gun control.
Rep. Shane Stringer (R) introduced House Bill 272 (HB272) on Feb. 3 with a large coalition of Republican cosponsors. Under the law, any law-abiding adult legally eligible to obtain a carry permit can carry a handgun without first having to obtain government permission. Alabama residents will still be able to acquire a concealed carry permit in order to carry in states that maintain CCDW reciprocity with Alabama.
On March 10, the House passed the final version of HB272 by a 70-29 vote. The Senate approved the measure by a 24-6 vote. Gov. Ivey signed the bill the same day. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
“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 in a statement. “I have always stood up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and I am proud to do that again today.”
Provisions amended to the bill in committee require occupants of a motor vehicle to inform an officer that they have a weapon. It also allows police to temporarily confiscate a weapon during a stop under certain circumstances.
The bill passed despite strong opposition from law enforcement. According to the Alabama Political Reporter, several Alabama law enforcement officials “aligned against the bill,” citing officer safety. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told The Alabama News Network he was disappointed the bill passed after it cleared the Senate.
“I’m not speaking from a brief knowledge of what is going on,” he said. “I have been a law enforcement officer for five decades. I’m basing it on my experience, and what I have seen through the years. There are a lot of other law enforcement officers that feel the same way. This is something that we are disappointed in, but we will continue to fight to do what we can to keep this legislation from coming out.”
Stringer served as a law enforcement officer. He said Mobile Sheriff Sam Cochran fired him last spring because he sponsored constitutional carry legislation.
“The Second Amendment gun rights of Alabamians are under attack from a liberal federal government that is out of control and even from some factions right here at home,” Stringer said. “After dedicating my life and career to law enforcement, losing a job because I stand in support of Alabama gun owners is certainly surprising, but nothing will discourage me from defending the constitutional guarantees promised to all of us as American citizens.”
According to Alabama Political Reporter, “Sheriffs rely on the pistol permit income in their budgets. The Alabama Sheriffs Association has opposed permitless/constitutional carry for years, claiming that it would make traffic stops less safe for officers.”
A Senate amendment creates a temporary fund to reimburse sheriffs’ offices for lost revenue.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing “constitutional carry” lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourage a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
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