Alabama's 2022 legislative session begins January 11 at the State House in Montgomery. A few bills up for discussion could have an impact on law enforcement.
Right now under state law, it is required to have a concealed carry permit to walk around with a gun in your bag or under a coat. House Bills 44 and 66, along with companion bills 1 and 12 in the senate would eliminate the need for a person to have a concealed carry permit in order to carry a pistol. That includes inside their vehicle.
21 states currently recognize the right to carry a handgun without a permit, including neighboring states such as Mississippi and Tennessee. If these bills pass, Alabama could be the 22nd.
"If that tool is taken away it will limit the ability of the officer to determine if that person has a legal right to own that weapon," said Everette Johnson, the president of the state's Fraternal Order of Police.
"I think it is going to be bad for law enforcement because it is going to put more guns on the streets," said Sgt. Michael Mangina with the Irondale Police Department.
Right now, police have probable cause to search a vehicle if a person has a handgun without a permit.
"That gun could have been used for violent acts, whether it be a shooting, or involved in robberies, assault. That gun could have been stolen from somewhere," said Johnson.
Johnson said law makers should consider public safety before casting their votes, but the Fraternal Order of Police will not take a stance one way or the other on this bill.
"We have members of the FOP on both sides of this argument and they all have great valid positions," he said.
Sgt. Mangina said a bad person can get a gun if they want regardless of the law, but thinks these bills would make guns more accessible to the wrong people.
"We are already facing a battle and we don't need any harder measures to go up against," said Mangina. "I think it is going to make it a more dangerous job. I think gun violence is going to go up and road rage is going to go up."
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"Our police officers, our men and women, are very smart. they are professional and they are on their toes. A lot of times when they encounter the good guys with guns, the people always say hey I have a gun in the car, usually if its a bad person who has the gun in the car, he's probably up to something else anyway," said Mangina.
The National Association for Gun Rights said in a statement they support these bills.
“For the first time in a decade, the Alabama Legislature appears primed to pass a solid piece of pro-gun legislation,” said Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights. “But the citizens of Alabama must keep the pressure on their elected officials and urge them to make Alabama the next Constitutional Carry state.”