Alabama sheriff seeing decrease in pistol permit purchases

Less pistol permits leading to lower revenues for some Alabama Sheriff's Offices
Less pistol permits leading to lower revenues for some Alabama Sheriff's Offices
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 8:17 AM CDT
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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Some sheriffs across Alabama say they have been seeing a decrease in revenues because fewer people are purchasing and renewing pistol permits.

“This whole issue stems back to a bill that was passed by the Alabama legislature in the 2022 regular session that does not actually take effect until January 1 of 2023,” Sonny Brasfield, Executive Director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) said.

In March, Governor Kay Ivey signed House Bill 272. It revises certain restrictions regarding the carrying or possession of a pistol and eliminates the requirement to obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed pistol.

“Once the requirement of law was removed, then there would be, you know, certainly would be an element of Alabama residents who would decide not to purchase those permits, and we are already seeing that,” said Brasfield.

According to Brasfield, some agencies have reported revenue losses up to 40 percent; however, one sheriff’s office says it’s losing more than that.

“We’ve seen about a 50% reduction in the number of permits that we’ve issued this year compared to the same time last year,” said Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton.

Brasfield says these funds are used for police gear and to protect Alabama citizens.

“Much of it is used for training cost, especially in the smaller counties. Sheriffs are asked to pay for vehicles with this money. They’re asked to pay for it for supplies, and in some counties, even operating cost of not only the sheriff’s department itself but the jail as well,” said Brasfield.

“A lot of our operating expenses that should really be in our county budget are being paid for with the law enforcement fund, which those funds are generated by the pistol permit sales. For example, we have air cards in our patrol cars that historically have been paid from that fund, so our deputies can use our computers. Basically, the monthly expenses we do have consume all of the revenue that we’re getting from the pistol permits and then some,” said Singleton.

To make up for the budget shortfall, the leaders tell me the legislature provided an option to help.

“You’ve got to show a loss in revenue, but you can apply to the state for some funds. And that’s what we’ll be looking at in the future to replace some of that loss funding,” said Lauderdale County Sheriff-elect Joe Hamilton.

“It’s a fund that starts with $5 million and then declines to $2 million after the first year. We think those numbers are certainly insufficient to address the loss in revenue based on our experience this summer,” according to Brasfield.

According to Sheriff Singleton, his department, along with many others, is encouraging community members to continue purchasing pistol permits to help solve the issue.

“To travel out of state, you’re gonna have to have it, and the bottom line is it does support the sheriff’s office,” said Singleton.

According to Brasfield, ACCA will evaluate the reports from the sheriffs. He says if the sheriff’s departments continue to see a loss in revenue once the law becomes effective, ACCA will get back in front of leaders to try to come up with a solution.

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