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Gun owners, sheriffs debate allowing loaded guns in cars without permits

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Alabama lawmakers are locked and loaded for another round of gun legislation. The latest bill would further protect gun rights{} by allowing people to carry loaded guns in cars without concealed carry permits.

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin's deputies may be armed. But he still fears they could end up on the wrong side of the barrel."Every time our officer stops someone, there is concern someone has a gun. Now we have to be more concerned about who has a gun," he said.

A law passed last year allows unloaded guns to be carried in cars without a permit.

Entrekin and other sheriffs say it isn't a problem but Republican Senator Scott Beason's latest bill is an issue.

It would let people carry handguns loaded still without a concealed carry permit.

"I don't think this has anything to do with the Second amendment when you have the right to carry this weapon off your property. Your automobile is not your property," said Bobby Timmons, executive director of the Sheriff's Association.

But during a Senate committee public hearing, some gun owners said it is their right and one that must be protected.

"I'm tired of paying for my rights," said a man from Troy."I can carry a loaded shotgun in my car. Why must I have a permit to carry a pistol? The laws only affect law abiding citizens. The bad guys could give a rip about the law," said Eddie Fulmer, president of Bama Carry.

But the other guys do care.

"Let's not make it easier for them to access and get hold of the guns," said Entrekin.

This year, proponents have more ammunition. The loss of permit fees could mean fewer bullet resistant vests, patrol cars, and other equipment to keep people{} safe. In Etowah County, some of that money pays for school resource officers. That's given a co-sponsor and gun owner pause.

"It's hard for me to look at it and say, 'I want that to go away or even be diminished in any capability,'" said Senator Phil Williams, Rainbow City.

Only about half a dozen people spoke out on the issue at the public hearing today.

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A Senate committee vote is expected next week.

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