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Two pistol-permit bills filed in advance of Alabama session

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A new bill sponsored by Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, would give a deadline of three business days for sheriffs to issue or reinstate a concealed carry pistol permit after a successful appeal in district court.

Current law allows citizens to appeal if a local sheriff denies or revokes a pistol permit, but it does not give a specific timeline for when sheriffs must act. Rowe told Alabama Daily News that her bill is simply clarifying the law.

“…If the district court judge says they are to be reinstated, then they should be reinstated,” Rowe said. “This is just to put some sort of parameter on the amount of time it would take to do that.”

Bama Carry, the largest state-based gun rights group in Alabama, helped Rowe develop House Bill 17.

Chuck Wright, a Bama Carry board member, told ADN that he had heard from people on social media about having wait times of two or three months before getting their permits restored.

“We’re not expanding the law, we are just putting a clarification in that gives the process a timeline,” Wright said.

Wright did not have any statistics about how many people may have had significant wait times.

Bobby Timmons, the executive director of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, told ADN that he didn’t see any problems with the bill and would not lobby against it.

“I don’t know any sheriffs that would go against it,” Timmons said. “I can’t think of any reason why they would be either.”

Rowe’s bill is one of two pieces of gun-related legislation so far pre-filed for the 2019 legislative session. Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, has again filed a bill that would not require Alabamians to have a pistol permit to carry their firearm outside of their private home or business or in their vehicles.

Allen told ADN that he does not believe Alabamians should have to pay a fee or a tax to carry a weapon. He also said his bill doesn’t eliminate pistol permits.

“For someone to say we are trying to do away with permits is ludicrous,” Allen said. “In my legislation, there is nothing in it that tries to do away with permits. In fact, we encourage people to get the permits.”

Allen said that in states that have enacted what is commonly referred to as constitutional carry, pistol permits sales have gone up. He also says that it is generally beneficial for people to have pistol permits because it quickens the process of buying firearms and allows citizens to cross state lines without the risk of breaking other state’s laws.

Law enforcement leaders have previously opposed Allen’s constitutional carry bills on the basis of safety. If enacted, citizens could carry weapons in vehicles without a concealed carry permit, for example.

But Allen said he doesn’t think Senate Bill 4 puts anyone at risk.

“Bad guys will continue to (break the law) and good guys will continue to respect the rule of law,” Allen said.

In 2017, Allen’s bill passed in the Senate but stalled in a House committee. He blamed House Speaker Mac McCutcheon for holding the bill up and claimed it would have passed on the House floor.

McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said in a statement sent to ADN that he would never personally keep legislation from the House floor.

“I’ve always believed strongly in allowing the legislative process to work as it was intended and giving all legislation an equal opportunity to pass or fail on its own merits,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of each sponsor to gather the support necessary to move their bills out of committee, onto the calendar, and upon the House floor.”

Similar bills from Allen also died in House committee in 2016 and 2015.

The legislative session starts March 5.

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