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Pistol permit change goes into effect

Effective immediately, Alabama concealed carry permits will no longer qualify as an adequate substitute for a federal background check for those buying a firearm from a licensed gun dealer.

The U.S. Department of Justice sent an advisory that states, the purpose of the public safety advisory is to notify the public of an important change to the procedure people may follow to comply with the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, when transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person.

The Brady Act generally requires Federal firearms licensees, (FFL) to initiate a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person. However, the Brady Act contains exceptions to the NICS check requirement, including an exception for holders of certain state permits to possess, carry or acquire firearms. The law implementing regulations provide that permits issued within the past 5 years may qualify as alternatives to the NICS check if certain other requirements are satisfied.

The advisory goes on to say, in the interest of public safety, and effective immediately, FFLs in Alabama may no longer accept concealed carry permits as an alternative to a NICS check.

Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman said this has started with the new administration of all sheriffs in the state.

“We are required to run the NICS checks on each and every person who applies for a pistol permit,” Turman said. “Before that, we were not required.”

Turman said in the past, a lot of pistol permits were issued to people who should not have been carrying a pistol.

“For instance, here in Covington County, there was a guy who had a pistol permit,” Turman said. “He came up here to renew his pistol permit, but he couldn’t renew it because he was a sex offender. When he was issued his pistol permit, he wasn’t registered as a sex offender. Now we are running NICS on everybody who wants to renew their pistol permit.”

According to the advisory, because county sheriffs have issued concealed carry permits without completing a full NICS check, firearms have been transferred to felons and other prohibited individuals in violation of federal law, thereby creating a substantial public safety concern. For this reason, the standards set forth in the Brady Law require us to find that Alabama’s concealed carry permits no longer qualify as a NCIS check alternative.

Turman said this is another precaution to ensure safety in the county.

“I don’t know how long this will last,” Turman said. “You still need a pistol permit in order to carry a concealed weapon, but they will have to run a check when you buy a gun at a store. You won’t be able to just show your concealed carry permit instead of running a background check. Yes, it will take a little longer, but we are just trying to ensure safety.”

Some citizens have raised concern to Turman, but he said they have understood.

“There was a little backlash from a couple citizens,” Turman said. “But it wasn’t anything ugly. They were always just able to come up here and get a pistol permit and be able to leave right then. Now, it is just going to take us a few days.”

Lifetime National Rifle Association member and Red Level local Hughie Atkison said hates that a few lazy people has lead to a more time-consuming check.

“Although as the story progressed through the same news channels and as the public sees, what I thought was going to be a days or weeks, seems to be only minutes,” Atkison said. “It doesn’t seem to be that much of a hindrance. I never want weapons in the wrong hands, especially someone who is supposed to be permitted and have a background check.”

Atkison’s views on businesses not allowing concealed carry are straightforward, they are letting their guard down.

“When a restaurant or business puts up a sign that says that I can’t bring my gun in concealed, that advertises weakness to the criminal,” Atkison said. “The criminal is going to be the only one that does not obey this sign. I also do believe that everybody with the weapon permit should go through a weapon safety course. You don’t give a car to a child and say drive it. I am lucky I was trained by my father. Education is always the key.”

Owner of Fletchers Outdoors Anthony King said he doesn’t expect gun sales to dip because of the change in the law.

“I don’t think there will be a dip in sales, because there is no alternative,” King said. “If you want to buy a gun, then you are going to have to do a NICS check. We do all of our checks online and it’s an instant check. Every once and a while, you may have somebody placed on hold, but if they put their social security number in it reduces the chances of being put on hold by 90 percent.”

King said he thinks people are willing to give up ten minutes of their time for more safety.

“I think people will be willing to give up those 10 minutes to know that you won’t have somebody who is mentally unfit to own a firearm coming in and buying one to take to a school and do a school shooting,” King said. “I think people would rather spend that 10 minutes extra waiting to buy a gun to know that somebody who had been convicted of domestic violence two weeks ago couldn’t come get a gun.”

When it comes to the second amendment, King is a strong supporter but is all about the safety of children and the innocent.

“I am personally not willing, don’t want to and not for limiting the second amendment in any way shape, form or fashion,” King said. “But when it comes to the safety of innocents, to the safety of children, I think a couple more minutes is worth giving that up.”

For more information about Alabama’s permit to carry pistol in a vehicle or concealed on person qualifying as an alternative to the NICS check, call (202) 648-7190.