Alabama sheriff's upset at loss of review from permits

Alabama sheriff's upset at loss of review from permits
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The state of Alabama is one of several that have recently embraced constitutional carry. Such laws remove the requirement for people to get concealed carry permits.

Now, there are still advantages to getting such a permit. Reciprocity, for example, is a big one. Another is being able to use the permit to bypass a clogged NICS background check.

Yet in Alabama, it seems that fewer people are seeking the permits, and that’s causing problems for some sheriff’s offices.

Alabama sheriffs and the head of the state’s county commission association are sounding alarms about the financial implications of removing concealed carry permit revenues from their budgets.

The cuts could be deep for county sheriffs and could shave off up to 50% or more from an agency’s budget within the next year.

Alabama legislators voted earlier this year to repeal the state’s requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Many sheriffs opposed the move, arguing the permits not only provide them a way to screen people who should not have a gun but also because the permits are a major source of their funding.

Some sheriffs say they already have seen a drop in concealed carry permit applications in the months before the new permitless carry law takes effect Jan. 1. Sheriffs in Montgomery and Baldwin counties say they have seen 40% drops in revenue already, or losses that range anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000.

Within the next 12 months, officials say the cuts will go deep. The annual revenues range from an estimate of $13 million to $15 million, according to Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the County Commission Association of Alabama. He said that estimate is based on between 650,000 to 750,000 pistol permits applied for each year.

“This is just another way of defunding law enforcement at a time when violent crime is on a rise,” Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said. “I don’t think we will ever see funding from this come back and we need to look at other areas to get revenue to make sure we keep our officers trained and keep the latest equipment in our offices to help protect our communities.”

Notice how Cunningham uses the term “defunding law enforcement” here? He knows damn good and well that’s not happening, but he also knows just who that will trigger and he’s hoping people on the right will change their positions.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out just how in the hell these counties were allowed to turn the permitting requirement into a county fundraiser, especially to such a degree that removing the permit process can hurt a sheriff’s office to that degree.

I mean, the fee for a permit should cover the department’s costs for issuing said permit, sure. I don’t think anyone would really argue against that, especially if there is going to be a permitting requirement in place. It shouldn’t cost the county money to issue a permit, but why is it a moneymaker instead?

What we’re seeing is that at least some counties took those fees and used them to cover all sorts of things, using law-abiding citizens’ desire to exercise their right to keep and bear arms to fund pretty much everything else, apparently. That’s wrong on every level.

If these departments couldn’t figure out how to make their budget without counting on profiting off the rights of law-abiding Americans, I’m not going to have a great deal of sympathy for them.

And no, this isn’t “defunding law enforcement” or any such thing. This is a reset to how things should have been in the first place.