Letter to the Editor: Pistol permit money should all remain with local departments

Posted

I’m very disappointed right now in our wonderful state. On Thursday, SB308 made it through the floor of the Alabama Senate.

SB308 establishes a lifetime $300 pistol permit option for citizens, and while that might sound like a great thing, there are multiple reasons why it isn’t.

For one, they included language that will establish a state “firearms prohibited persons” database. What I believe it establishes is a way for the state to have access to the personal information of law abiding gun owners in every county of Alabama, which is a slippery slope that could lead to a statewide database. As a constitutional officer, that is something I could not support.  

Another reason is that it allows the state to now take 20 percent of the revenue generated by those permit sales, which for small counties like Walker County, means that people will be out of a job, and important services and programs we offer will cease.

We rely on pistol permit revenue to keep our department running the way it should. Hundreds of other small, underfunded departments rely on it too. We employ deputies, jailer and support staff with it, and if that revenue goes, so do they. 

In my opinion, either have permits or don’t. I would 100 percent support constitutional carry because I believe it is constitutionally sound. But if the law is going to require permits, then 100 percent of the revenue from those permit sales should go directly back to the department that is responsible for issuing them so it can be used to improve the department and better serve the community. We do the work, we should keep the revenue and pass the benefits of it on to the citizens we serve. 

It’s a sad time politically when we have people representing us that are more concerned with appeasing private interest groups instead of their own constituents. Especially when they try and pull the wool over our eyes by disguising a bill like this as a step closer to constitutional carry. The reason they do that is because we don’t hold them accountable. We let them go off to Montgomery and make these decisions with the best interest of their campaigns in mind instead of the best interest of the citizens they represent and never force them to explain why they voted the way they did. 

This bill will essential defund so many departments across our state. A bill passed by a majority of people that belong to a party that is in direct opposition to defunding the police, just dealt the first blow in what will surely be the long and slow death of so many departments that rely on pistol permit revenue. I’d rather them just kill it quickly so we can pick up the pieces and keep pushing forward. Instead, the state chooses to slowly take what we work for, but they get their cut and their database, so they couldn’t care less. 

And to make matters even better, there’s another bill coming right behind this one that will end civil forfeiture laws. That means when we arrest a drug dealer, we will no longer be able to seize any money or property they may have accumulated due to their illegal activities. So if you’re selling heroin and killing people with it and you get arrested, your dope money and your trap house will be there waiting for you to get right back to business when you get out. Lawmakers have already made it harder to send multiple offenders to prison, so why not let them keep their ill gotten gains too? 

It’s a sad and dangerous time to be in law enforcement and we need the support of the people we serve now more than ever, because we surely aren’t getting it from the ones that are supposed to represent us all.

Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith