HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- A bill to allow people to carry loaded pistols in their vehicles without having a concealed carry permit from the county sheriff won approval today in the Alabama Senate Judiciary committee.
SB 354 by Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, now moves to the Senate. It would also have to pass the House, and be signed by the governor to become law.
County Sheriffs have come out in force to show their disapproval of this bill because they say it puts officer safety in jeopardy.
"This is absurd, if this goes through you could have up to four people fully armed in a car without having any prior knowledge of that ahead of time during a traffic stop," Morgan County Sheriff Anna Franklin told WHNT News 19 Wednesday afternoon.
Last year county sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies worked with state lawmakers on a set of sweeping gun rights laws that passed and are now in place in Alabama.
"We were all at the table last time around to make sure 2nd Amendment rights were being protected but also that people were being kept safe including our officers' safety out on the road," Sheriff Franklin added.
The bill approved last year allowed people to carry a pistol in their vehicles without a permit as long as it was unloaded and locked away out of reach of the driver and passengers.
A permit is required to carry a concealed weapon in Alabama. But state law allows people without a permit to openly carry a holstered or secured gun in public except in businesses and other places where that is prohibited.
"The law in place now is good and adding this to our concealed carry laws is disturbing," Franklin said.
SB 354 would also require a sheriff to issue or renew a permit within two weeks of his or her receipt of an application for a pistol permit. Current law allows sheriffs to take up to thirty days to issue or renew a permit.
This is not the first time this bill has been proposed. Last year Sen. Beason attempted to get the legislation added on to the rest of the gun law changes but it was knocked off during debate before the rest of the intact bill passed.