Rep. Corey Harbison, along with Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, constructed a bill that would give Cullman citizens the ability to vote on a free concealed carry permit and eliminate Alabama from receiving information to place in their new database.

The newly passed senate bill (308) sponsored by Senator Randy Price, R-Opelika, and Rep. Proncey Robertson, R-Mount Hope, would make concealed carry permits lifetime with a cost of $300 or $150 for applicants over 60. This bill would also create a database for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to be able to track law-abiding citizens rather they potentially carry a firearm or not.

Representative Corey Harbison introduced a constitutional amendment that would make Cullman County an exception, and the cost to conceal a firearm would be zero dollars. You would have the ability to donate to the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office if you would like to contribute. Cullman would not be required to send personal information related to pistol permits or persons prohibited from carrying a firearm except when required by federal law or court order. If passed, House Bill 607 would be placed on a ballot to be voted on by the citizens.

Unfortunately, HB 607 was shot down yesterday during the legislative session. Harbison said, “I want to say the state of Alabama is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a database that truly duplicates other databases we already have.

I have been a certified law enforcement officer since 2008, and I drafted the local constitutional amendment with help and support from sheriff Gentry. As I’ve argued time and time again, a bad guy isn’t going to care if their name is in a database. If they want to carry a gun, they will carry a gun.

At the end of the day, the first priority to every law enforcement officer should be to make it home at the end of their shift. I believe this system has the potential to get someone hurt. Even in the debate on the house floor yesterday, a retired law enforcement officer said he would feel more at ease walking to a vehicle if he has access to the database. I said, what if someone who just broke out of jail and is in the database steals a vehicle that belongs to someone licensed to carry a pistol. The bad guy looks under the seat and finds the pistol that belongs to the person whose car they sole. An officer pulls that vehicle over for a simple traffic violation, say failure to use a turn signal. The officer runs the tag and sees that the registered owner must be a good guy because they aren’t in the database. That officer lets their guard down based on that false information and gets up to the car and meets the escaped inmate with a pistol in hand.

Law enforcement should make every stop and approach a vehicle as if they don’t know who is in the car.

I also see where it could create a problem for someone who legally possesses a permit. It is said this is a database of only prohibited people. That seems untrue to me. Someone is either allowed or prohibited from legally possessing a firearm. If this database keeps track of who can’t legally posses a firearm permit, that means the only other option is that person can have a permit. Suppose an officer pulls over a vehicle and sees the registered driver isn’t in the database. Are they going to walk to the car and automatically ask to search it for firearms since that person can legally have one? I was in the vehicle with my brother many years ago. We came to a driver’s license checkpoint. He was 100% legal and was in a nice new truck. He got out his wallet to show his ID, and the officer saw he had a pistol permit, and that officer drew his firearm and asked my brother where his pistol is in the vehicle. That’s not a good situation!!

Prouncey Robertson-R Lawrence County came to the mic to place two amendments. One was saying the sheriff could not give a lifetime permit. He can only issue a permit from 1-5 years. Lifetime permits are obtained through ALEA. The 2nd amendment stripped the section that exempted Cullman county from any database. Both amendments were eventually voted on and attached to the bill.

After that, the bill simply let the people vote to allow the sheriff to give free permits to qualified Cullman residents. This would have been a choice Cullman county voters would have got to make. The bill still didn’t pass.

I would say there are two reasons for its failure. It was hard to get the votes because some other legislators thought if they do this, people in their county would want it, and most sheriffs are not willing to give up the money like ours is.

The second is if we give free permits, then people would be less likely to buy lifetime permits and pay the fee to ALEA.

I was very disappointed that it failed. Every county across the state has set the sheriff’s permit fees for that county. I do not know if any county that does issue them for free like we were trying to accomplish.”

It will be a while before the new lifetime permit takes place, and at that time, you will be encouraged to continue purchasing one to five-year permits from your local sheriff’s office. Sheriff’s offices in all sixty-seven counties will lose much-needed funds to ALEA if you choose to buy the $300 lifetime permit. Sheriff Gentry, along with Rep. Harbison, Rep.Shedd, Rep. Stadthagen, and Senator Gudger, has worked tremendously hard to fight for your gun rights. Cullman’s deligation will continue fighting for your rights to possess a firearm without your rights being infringed upon.