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Police flood Alabama Capitol, ask lawmakers to keep concealed carry permit requirement

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A debate at the Alabama State House centers on this question: Should people be required to have a concealed carry permit in order to carry concealed firearms?

Law enforcement from across the state filled the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee meeting in Montgomery Wednesday. Most were there in opposition to Senate Bill 24.

The bill, which already passed the Senate, would eliminate the need for concealed carry permits in Alabama.

The Alabama Sheriff's Association, Police Chiefs Association and Fraternal Order of Police are all opposed to the bill.

"I think it's a vote against the safety of our citizens," Mountain Brook Police Chief Ted Cook told the committee.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale took a different stand.

"Please uphold the constitution," Hale told the committee. "Let's do that today by voting this bill out of committee."

Hale stood with with the NRA and BamaCarry. He told the committee citizens shouldn't have to pay money to exercise their second amendment right.

"Look, it's not easy to be one of the few sheriffs going against the other sheriffs, but it's certainly not about money for me," Hale told ABC 33/40. "The argument for public safety and officer safety does not hold water with the states that have already passed this."

Cook spoke on behalf of the Police Chief's Association, where he serves as vice president.

"We can't measure the lives we've saved using this law to get in there and get that gun from those who shouldn't have it," Cook said.

He hopes the amount of law enforcement in the room sent a clear message as the bill inches closer to becoming law.

"I hope it says to the committee and to the legislature at large how important this bill is to law enforcement, that law enforcement has this bill stopped," said Cook. "It's too great for public safety as a whole to start doing it this way."

Committee members asked pointed questions to both sides.

Debate became contentious and included discussion about what exactly the second amendment guarantees.

Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) said if lawmakers reject the bill and Alabama continues to require a permit, that is still in line with the constitution.

"Our supreme court has already said it's not a license to carry whenever, wherever, however or what kind of weapon you want," England told his colleagues.

Committee Chairman, Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Birmingham) told ABC 33/40 he wants the committee to have time to digest the information before voting.

If the committee gives its okay, the full House would also have to pass the bill to send it to Governor Kay Ivey's desk for signature.

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