Cullman County Sheriff opposes elements of new pistol permit law, calls for local constitutional amendment

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CULLMAN, Ala. – Recently-passed Alabama House Bill 308 (HB308), the Alabama Uniform Concealed Carry Permit Act, makes changes to the way pistol permits are issued in the state of Alabama, including the creation of a lifetime permit and the allocation of a portion of permit fees to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). The new law will: 

    Require ALEA to create a statewide “prohibited person” database that can be accessed by local government, law enforcement and court officials to determine a person’s eligibility for the issuance or renewal of a Concealed Carry Permit 

 

  • Set a uniform statewide annual permit fee of $25 

 

  • Make available a one-time lifetime permit for $300, or $150 if the applicant is over 60 

 

  • Require a background check on all lifetime permit holders every five years 

 

  • Allow local sheriffs to accept payment for permits electronically 

 

  • Provide for free permits, including lifetime permits, to service members, honorably discharged veterans and retired law enforcement officers who meet qualifications for a permit 

 

  • Allocate 80% of permit fees to local sheriffs to operate the permit program and “other law enforcement purposes” 

 

  • Allocate 20% of permit fees to ALEA to maintain the prohibited person database and “other law enforcement purposes” 

Among the Cullman area legislative delegation, Sen. Garlan Gudger and Rep. Randall Shedd voted against the bill, while Rep. Corey Harbison and Rep. Scott Stadhagen abstained from voting. 

Sheriff Matt Gentry opposes certain parts of the new law, and has called for a state constitutional amendment that would exempt Cullman County. Gentry issued this statement on Monday: 

“From the time I was elected sheriff until now I always tried to be up front with the citizens about law enforcement issues concerning Cullman County and particularly, any that would affect their tax dollars. That is why I worked with Rep. Corey Harbison in 2018 to let the people vote and they changed, for the better, the way we manage inmate meal money.  

That is why when I saw the Alabama Legislature pass SB 308, also called Alabama Uniform Concealed Carry Permit Act, I asked our local delegation to draft a local constitution amendment that Cullman County Citizens could vote on.  

SB 308 has several things in this legislation that I do not think are good for the citizens of Cullman County. It will require a statewide database for “prohibited persons.” I believe this database could be used by the state or others to have access to personal information of lawful gun owners.  

It will also require citizens to pay $300 for a lifetime permit even if they can’t afford one. It raises the age to get a permit from 18-years-old to 19-years-old, and also send a portion of our citizens’ tax dollars to Montgomery.  

This is why I asked Rep. Corey Harbison, a former deputy sheriff, to introduce (a) local Constitution Amendment in the House (HB607) to be voted on by the citizens of Cullman County. In addition to HB 607, Senator Garlan Gudger will be dropping a mirrored senate bill to HB607, which would allow citizens to give a donation for a permit if they wished too; otherwise, the permit would be free to the citizen. Cullman County will also NOT send its citizens personal information to the statewide database. An 18-years-old would also still be able to request a permit and, in the event Constitutional Carry were passed, this local bill would (be) nullified.  

As Sheriff of Cullman County, it’s my number one priority to keep the citizens safe. I firmly believe by passing this local Constitution Amendment that is what we would be doing.” 

House Bill 607 

The synopsis statement attached to HB607 reads:  

“This bill would propose an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 relating to Cullman County, to provide that the sheriff may not charge any fee to a resident of the county for issuance, renewal or replacement of any pistol permit. The amendment would allow an applicant for a pistol permit, at time of application, to make a donation to the sheriff’s office. The donations would be deposited into a discretionary fund for use by the sheriff for law enforcement purposes. The amendment would also provide that the Sheriff of Cullman County shall not be required to send any person any information relating to pistol permits or persons prohibited from possession of a firearm, with exceptions.” 

The exceptions mentioned at the end of the synopsis include reports “required by federal law or court order.” 

 

This is a developing story. 

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com