Editorial: Strange bedfellows — On gun bill, they aren’t so strange after all
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
May 10, 2013 | 4337 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Any evidence of bipartisanship in the Alabama Legislature normally would be hailed as a significant step in the right direction.

However, when it is Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, and Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, who put aside political partisanship and came up with a compromise, it would be wise to look carefully at what they have done.

Beason had been pushing a bill that would have expanded the ability of gun owners to take weapons onto private property. The Business Council of Alabama, one of the Alabama GOP’s most loyal supporters, opposed the measure. Beason cited Second Amendment rights. The BCA cited the Fifth Amendment and the rights of property owners.

Beason wanted gun owners to be able to keep their guns in their cars, a plan the state sheriff’s association called “the road rage bill.”

Beason also wanted to limit a sheriff’s discretion over who can get a permit to carry a concealed weapon and make it easier for citizens to carry weapons openly in a public place. Both law enforcement and business groups expressed their concern.

In other words, Beason wanted to change Alabama from being “the least gun-friendly state in the South” to one in which firearms were welcomed just about everywhere, and Bedford was ready and eager to help him.

Working in a Senate conference committee, the two men crafted a solution. Why so chummy on this? Simple. Though they represent different parts of the state, they share the same constituency — gun owners and business folks. Catering to those interests made good political sense.

This odd Beason-Bedford compromise might not be best for the state. Consider:

When this bill is law — as it surely will be — residents can carry weapons openly in public establishments unless the owner posts a sign saying “no guns allowed.” (Gun owners are still prohibited from carrying concealed weapons into government buildings.)

Employers won’t be able to prohibit their employees from bringing guns to work in their vehicle, provided the gun is out of sight and the employee has a concealed-weapon permit or a hunting license.

To satisfy the BCA, the law was revised to give employers immunity from lawsuits that might arise from workplace shootings.

Sheriffs are restricted in their authority to issue and deny concealed-weapon permits.

These are the public safety concerns that might have been brought up if the state Senate had debated the conference committee report that proposed the changes, but Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey gaveled down the opposition (such as it was) and the GOP supermajority, along with most Democrats, pushed it through.

The state House will take up the measure when it reconvenes May 20. Then representatives are likely to swiftly approve the Senate version — no questions asked.
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