Law enforcement preparing for upcoming permitless concealed carry law

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 8:15 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Beginning Jan. 1, anyone age 18 or older in Alabama who is not prohibited by state or federal law may carry a concealed pistol without a permit.

The law was passed during the 2022 state legislative session but drew backlash from sheriffs across the state. Law enforcement groups have said that permits assist officers in removing guns from criminals.

But now that House Bill 272 will go into effect in just days, sheriff’s offices across the state are getting prepared. Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham says it will be a big change for his deputies and people in the community.

“When you first get it implemented you’re probably going to have some problems. People are not used to seeing people with weapons on their hip,” Cunningham said. “I know we’re going to be getting a lot of phone calls about ‘Hey, I got some guys walking around with guns on.’ It’s legal now.”

Under the new law, concealed carry will be allowed on public property and on certain private property unless a property owner has signage outside of their establishment saying otherwise.

Cunningham is concerned that some people will forget they are carrying and find themselves in prohibited areas.

“People are so accustomed to carrying a guns, they’re going to walk right on in with their weapon,” Cunningham said. “What we’re fixing to turn into is a screening society. Everywhere you go you got to go through metal detectors, you got to screen this, you’re going to see clear bags.”

Under the new law, drivers carrying a pistol must tell law enforcement about it if they are pulled over. An officer can run a background check on that driver if warranted. Cunningham says he’s fearful for the safety of his deputies.

“I’m just scared about that vehicle and that weapon and then mixed with alcohol, drugs, whatever the case may be,” Cunningham said. “Right now it’s hard for us to be able to pull somebody over without them having a vehicle pursuit for just about any little simple crime. Now we’re putting a weapon into that vehicle as well, and these people have a right to able to carry these weapons.”

Cunningham reminds Alabamians that permits are still required to travel from state to state. Also, a gun owner can’t just carry a handgun anywhere. It’s prohibited at the following locations:

  • Police station or sheriff’s office
  • Detention facility
  • Hospital
  • Courthouse
  • Other government buildings
  • Any facility hosting an athletic event

If you are caught with a firearm in a prohibited area, Cunningham said you can be arrested.

Cunningham said he is looking at about a 60% funding loss on permits. According to Montgomery County’s 2021-2022 annual budget, the county generated $520,000 in “licenses and permits.” Based on the approximate 60% loss, that would be roughly $312,000. That equates to .0025 or 0.25% of the entire county budget.

The bill does include the creation of a grant program, starting with a $5 million allocation, to replace revenue that could be lost now that the permits are no longer required.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Shane Stringer, says a new database of persons prohibited from carrying firearms will be a better system than permits, and that removing the permit requirement lifts a burden on Alabamians’ Second Amendment rights.

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