Sheriff: Gun bill ‘dangerous’

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden said a new bill aimed at loosing gun laws in Alabama puts citizens in danger.

A bill to allow people to carry loaded pistols in their vehicles without having to get a concealed carry permit from the county sheriff was approved by the Senate on March 19. The bill is now being examined by the House of Representatives committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The bill would need to be passed by the House and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley in order to become law.

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“This is a very dangerous bill,” Harden said. “It’s not a bill that makes things safer for the citizens of Alabama.”

The legislature passed a controversial measure last year that eliminated the need for residents transporting an unloaded gun out of the driver’s reach to have a conceal-carry permit.

“This new bill they are considering puts everyone in danger,” Harden said. “For example, if you accidently cut someone off in traffic, the way things are now, they may give you a hand gesture. If this bill passes, what’s to say this person won’t grab a pistol off the seat and shoot you?”

Sen. Scott Beason, who sponsored the bill, proposed the same bill a year ago.

“I don’t believe you ought to have to pay for your 2nd Amendment rights,” he said. “That’s just the overall belief that I have.”

Beason said that because it is legal to have a loaded pistol at home with no permit, that right should extend to a citizen’s vehicle.

“You should be able to have a usable pistol with you in your car, and you ought not have to pay for it,” he said.

Harden said he feels the law is unnecessary.

“People who can pass the background check can get a permit and carry the weapon in their car,” he said. “Those who can’t (pass the background check) don’t need to have a concealed weapon, and a weapon in a car is a concealed weapon. This is a law that benefits criminals, not law abiding citizens.”

A permit is required to carry a concealed weapon in Alabama, but state law also allows residents to carry a weapon without a permit as long as the weapon is not concealed.

Beason believes that if someone can carry a pistol without a permit while walking down the street, they should be able to transport one in their vehicle.

Harden disagrees.

“They do not need to allow this,” he said. “It’s something that will put people in danger.”