Alabaster council opposes firearm-related legislative bill

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Citing concerns about the safety of the city’s law enforcement officers, the Alabaster City Council voted unanimously during a recent meeting to oppose a state bill aimed at removing licensing requirements to carry a concealed weapon.

Council members voted during their March 13 meeting to oppose Senate Bill 24, which was sponsored by state Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.

If passed, SB24 would make several changes to the state’s firearms laws, and would allow citizens to legally carry a concealed firearm on their person or to have a loaded firearm in their vehicle without first obtaining a permit.

Currently, Alabama residents are required to purchase a concealed carry weapons permit from their county sheriff’s office to legally carry a concealed weapon on their person or to have a loaded firearm in their vehicle.

The Senate bill also seeks to remove enhanced punishments for anyone found guilty of committing a violent crime while armed with a pistol, and seeks to allow citizens to concealed carry a firearm while at a public demonstration.

“The City Council of the city of Alabaster believes the repeal and amendment of such laws would increase risks to everyday citizens, to police officers, fire personnel and rescue workers carrying out the ordinary duties of their employment by allowing unlicensed and unvetted persons to carry firearms concealed on their persons and in their vehicles,” read the council’s resolution.

Ward 5 City Council member Russell Bedsole, who is a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputy and chairs the council’s public safety committee, said the council opposed SB24 on behalf of the city’s Police Department.

“We don’t want it to be misconstrued that we are against the Second Amendment. We whole-heartedly support the Second Amendment, but we are concerned about the safety of our law enforcement officers,” Bedsole said. “There are certain laws that are designed to protect law enforcement officers when they encounter someone who is carrying a concealed weapon. Those would be stripped away if this bill passes.

“We feel like it would make the city more unsafe for residents and law enforcement officers,” Bedsole said. “On behalf of the chief of police and the officers, I want to thank the council for bringing this before you tonight.”