Alabama legislature is debating a bill that would make life easier for gun owners

Alabama is working toward becoming the 12th state in the country to allow its residents to carry a concealed handgun in public without a permit.

With a vote of 25-8, the Alabama Senate approved a measure Tuesday to eliminate the requirement of a carry permit in order to be allowed to carry a concealed firearm in public, The Associated Press reported. The House of Representatives will vote on the proposed legislation next.

State Sen. Gerald Allen (R), who co-authored the legislation, said that the NRA-backed bill aimed to protect citizens’ rights.

“Every citizen should have the right to bear arms without paying a fee,” he said, according to the AP.

He added that it would make more sense since current Alabama law allows open carry without a permit but still requires concealed carriers to pay for a permit.

The law has been criticized by law enforcement groups in the state that say the permits are necessary to maintain public safety. Capt. Michael Salomonsky of the Madison County sheriff’s office testified before a state Senate committee in March that the proposed law would hinder the ability of authorities to investigate crimes, insisting that permits are useful and necessary in solving crimes and helping officers narrow down a list of suspects.

“If our job is to protect the community, don’t take our tools,” he said at the time.

Democrats in the state say the Republicans are trying to “rebrand” their party after it has been plagued with scandals so far this year. Democratic state Sen. Bobby Singleton connected the move to President Donald Trump.

“They’re rebranding the Republican Party,” he said. “This is the first bill of the rebrand. Guns. This is the Wild, Wild West. This is Trump South.”