MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- from their county sheriff is apparently dead.
The Alabama House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee failed to approve the bill after a public hearing today.
A motion to approve it received no second, and the bill died.
Today is the next to last day of the legislative session. Without committee approval today, the bill cannot pass.
Sen. Scott Beason, a Republican from Gardendale who sponsored the bill, said he was very, very, very disappointed.
A number of law enforcement representatives spoke in opposition to the bill at today's hearing. Proponents also spoke, saying the bill addresses what is a constitutional right.
Under current law, a pistol in a vehicle must be unloaded and locked in a compartment out of reach of driver and passengers if the owner does not have a concealed carry permit.
Even that was illegal before last year, when lawmakers approved another bill by Beason after much negotiation. Beason said today last year's bill was an incremental improvement.
"I'm trying to make sure that honest, law-abiding citizens havethe ability to defend themselves," Beason said.
Law enforcement and retired law enforcement officers talked about the dangers of liberalizing the law on pistols in vehicles. They said it could lead to more road rage incidents and more juveniles carrying loaded guns in cars.
Bobby Timmons, executive director of the Alabama Sheriffs Association, has said that the association opposes the bill partly because he said it would reduce the need for people to buy pistol permits. Sheriffs departments depend on the permits to help fund them.
Beason said he's not convinced permit purchases would go down significantly.
Beason offered to amend his bill today to require a permit specifically for carrying a pistol in a vehicle. It would be a free, lifetime permit after a background check by the sheriff.
Beason said that should address the public safety concerns of law enforcement.
The committee declined to adopt the amendment. Beason said that indicated to him that opposition to the bill was about permit revenues, not public safety.
"I gave them the ability to do the background checks," Beason said. "What was the only thing that was missing? Money."
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, who spoke in opposition to Beason's bill, disagreed.
"I don't think it's about money," Jones said. "As far as I'm concerned, this is about public safety."
Today is Beason's next to last day in the Legislature. He chose not to run for re-election and is running in the Republican primary in the 6th Congressional District.
Beason said he thought the fact that he's leaving the Legislature hurt his chances with the bill.
"You lose a lot of political capital when you say you're going to retire," Beason said.Updated at 1:31 p.m. to add information about Beason's proposed amendment.
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