The Alabama House of Representatives has passed a bill to provide more money to county sheriffs to offset the loss of funds caused by the repeal of the requirement for a permit to carry concealed handguns.
The Legislature repealed the permit requirement last year over opposition from the Alabama Sheriffs Association and some others in law enforcement. Sheriffs depended on the permit sales as a source of funds. The repeal took effect this year.
Lawmakers created a “Local Government Pistol Permit Revenue Loss Fund” last year intended to replace some of money. It allocated $5 million a year, or enough to maintain a balance of $2 million in the fund. That funding is in place for three years.
The bill that passed today, HB320, would increase that to $7.5 million a year and extend the funding for two more years, through fiscal year 2028. The sponsor of the bill is Rep. Russell Bedsole, a Republican who is a captain in the Shelby County Sheriff Department. Bedsole’s bill would also change the name of the fund to the “Sheriffs’ Advancement in Education, Technology and Training Fund.” The House passed the bill by a vote of 100-0. It goes to the Senate.
Although no one voted against the bill, some lawmakers used the debate to restate their opposition to last year’s bill that repealed the concealed carry requirement. Sheriffs and others who opposed the repeal last year said the requirement for a permit and background check was an important public safety tool for law enforcement.
“This does not make our sheriffs or the men in blue any safer,” Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, said.
Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, told Bedsole, “I know what your bill does, and I agree with it. That’s why I signed onto it. At the same time, it’s so disingenuous, that we give the money back that we took away.”
Bedsole noted that he also opposed the repeal of the pistol permit requirement last year but that it was important to him to sponsor the bill to help restore the funding.
Supporters of the repeal said the requirement was an infringement the 2nd Amendment. Alabama became the 25th state to allow concealed carry without a permit, which supporters call constitutional carry. The bill passed with strong support from Republicans and opposition from Democrats.
England tried to amend the law that repealed the permit requirement. It says a person is required to disclose that they are carrying a handgun concealed or in a vehicle if asked by a police officer. But failure to make that disclosure carries no penalty. England proposed a bill to add a penalty, making failure to disclose a Class A misdemeanor. His bill died in the House Judiciary Committee last week. England said that leaves the disclosure requirement meaningless.
“Which just begs the question: Are we really trying to protect law enforcement when we put them at greater risk?” England said. “If we know now that it’s not enforceable, why won’t we fix it? That bill should be bipartisan. It should be 105-0 on its way to the Senate. Something is wrong.”
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