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Alabama gun laws to change on New Year’s Day


On January first, Alabama will become the latest state to allow people to carry a concealed handgun without getting a state permit that requires a background check. The new state law ends the requirement for a person to get a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun in public. A person can still choose to get a permit if they want to do so. The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action lobbied for the Alabama legislation. The proposal had been introduced unsuccessfully for years in Montgomery, before winning approval this year. The legislation was championed by gun rights advocates who call it "constitutional carry," in reference to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Opponents, including state sheriffs and others in law enforcement, argued the permits help combat crime and enhance public safety.

The Alabama Sheriffs Association had opposed the legislation. But, Alabama lawmakers were under pressure from gun rights enthusiasts, and approved the measure during the last legislative session. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey almost immediately signed the legislation into law and highlighted her support in her reelection campaign. The ad showed the governor sitting at her desk at the Alabama Capitol and pulling a small handgun out of her purse, along with a lipstick and cell phone.

Republican lawmakers who previously opposed the legislation said they were more comfortable voting for it this time because the state was developing a "prohibited persons" database to help officers flag people who are banned from possessing a handgun because of their criminal history and other reasons. The database was mandated by an earlier state law creating an option to get a lifetime concealed carry permit.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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