On February 4, Alabama state Representative Proncey Robertson (R-District 7) introduced H.B. 39, which pertains to the issuance of “carry permits,” and to the creation of a “standardized statewide process to issue concealed carry permits for terms of 1 year, 5 years, or permit holder’s lifetime.”
The bill was read and “referred to the House of Representatives committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security,” according to LegiScan.
“Under current law, concealed carry permits are issued by the sheriffs of each county. Each sheriff may have different fees, forms, and processes for the issuance of a concealed carry permit,” the synopsis of the bill reads. “Further, each county may maintain separate databases of individuals authorized to carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person within this state.”
The synopsis continues, proposing a standardized, statewide process instead:
This bill would standardize a process by which concealed carry permits may be issued statewide and would create a state concealed carry permit information system by which relevant data may be maintained and provided to law enforcement. This bill would also integrate into that state information system existing data relating to concealed carry permits issued by county sheriffs.
Later, the text of the bill goes into more detail:
Upon receiving notice from a sheriff of an approved application for a concealed carry permit, the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency shall immediately enter the information into the state concealed carry permit information system and ensure that a concealed carry permit endorsement is viewable by law enforcement officers and other authorized persons through the individual’s driver license…
Further, it details how one’s license could be revoked under the proposed system:
Upon receiving notice of a denial of an application for a concealed carry permit or a court disposition which would prohibit that individual from purchasing or possessing a pistol or firearm under state or federal law or render that individual ineligible for a permit based upon the factors provided in paragraph [a] of subsection (b), the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency shall enter the information into the state concealed carry permit information system and ensure that a “Concealed Carry Prohibited” restriction is viewable by law enforcement officers and other authorized persons through an individual’s driver license.
On Thursday, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) stated in a release pertaining to a parallel bill in Alabama’s state Senate, “contact committee members and ask them to support S.B. 47.”
Despite the NRA-ILA’s seeming endorsement of the legislation, Alabama gun rights organization BamaCarry has a different perspective.
Speaking with Fox affiliate WBRC, BamaCarry president Eddie Fulmer said: “They need to back off of trying to regulate people who lawfully carry weapons.”
After stating that “permit holders in Alabama are some of the most law-abiding citizens there are,” Fulmer added, “What they are worried about here is a very insignificant amount of people when it comes to revoking a permit.”
The Daily Wire reached out to Rep. Proncey Robertson, and he answered several questions pertaining to the proposed law.
Robertson first noted how information pertaining to gun licenses in the state of Alabama is quite disparate: “Most people may not even realize this, but the concealed carry permit process in the state of Alabama is done in 67 different counties, by 67 different sheriffs. The 67 different processes and 67 different databases or local systems that hold your information – some of them, very insecure to say the least – they’re just on a standalone server under the front desk, for instance.”
The lawmaker added: “When an officer stops you in one end of the state and you have a permit from the other end of the state, he has very little confidence that that permit is valid, or that the Sheriff used the same background process or even maintained the records correctly.”
Robertson said that his proposed H.B. 39 would “standardize” all these various processes under the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) or the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIC), giving law enforcement the ability to access it.
As for the accountability of law enforcement as it pertains to information searching, Robertson stated: “As a police officer, if I want access to that information, I am passworded into it, and you would know what I looked at, every key stroke, what I obtained, what I learned, what I did with it, and I have to have a law enforcement purpose for accessing that information.”
In response to BamaCarry president Eddie Fulmer’s comments, Robertson said: “I have no interest in regulating people who carry legally. What the system would do is it would begin to keep records of those who are prohibited to carry firearms.”
If we just do away with the permits in the state of Alabama, you still have to have one if you’re going to cross the state lines. So, this is just a way to secure that information. Number two, currently ACJIC and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), it keeps arrest records, but that is much different than conviction records or disposition records.
Robertson then noted that if he, as a police officer, were to stop someone he didn’t know personally, who had a history of arrests for “robbery or domestic violence, something what would prevent them from carrying a concealed weapon or obtaining a concealed weapons permit,” NCIC or state records can tell him if they had been arrested, but not if they were convicted, which, he said, “is what I need in order to make an arrest.”
According to Robertson, H.B. 39 would connect the courts to the permit database. “The day that the court convicts you, they would enter into the system that you are now prohibited, and it would revoke your permit if you have one in the system,” he stated.
When probed as to how his bill isn’t a centralized firearm registry, Robertson replied: “It has nothing to do with your gun. I’m not registering your guns. It never asks you one single question about your gun.”
It’s about your concealed carry permit. It’s you coming in, taking a background check that says you’re not someone convicted of anything that would prohibit you, and it says it’s your license to carry concealed. They never ask you what gun you have or own or possess.
Robertson said that nothing in H.B. 39 requires new information from citizens, rather, it would simply standardize and centralize the current data from all the numerous hubs in which they currently reside.
The lawmaker also made sure to state that “the ATF, every time you purchase a gun, they do a background check at the gun dealer. They collect the make, model, and serial number of the gun you bought, and your name, address, and all your personal information.”
The federal government and the state of Alabama already has that information. This has nothing to do with your guns. This is just about, do you have the right to carry concealed, have you been convicted of something that would prohibit you from carrying a concealed weapon – and that’s any violent crime, it’s domestic violence, and it’s being ruled by a probate judge with a mental defect and involuntarily committed.
Lastly, Robertson explained why he believes Constitutional Carry or Permitless Carry isn’t an option in Alabama as things currently stand:
If you do that, here’s what happens – because many of these other states that have done it have very good record-keeping systems of criminal convictions, so an officer can look when he stops someone, and tell what they have been convicted of. In Alabama, we do not have that record keeping on the bad guys. That’s what I’m trying to do with this bill.
Right now in Alabama, if we went Permitless Carry, I could literally stop someone who is a convicted felon carrying a gun, and I have no way to prove that he is a felon carrying a gun there on the side of the road. So, I would have to let him drive away or walk away with that gun.
“That’s what people don’t understand about the way the system works currently,” Robertson added. “We do not have a good enough records management system of convictions in the state of Alabama to go with Constitutional Carry.”
“H.B. 39 requires the courts to report any conviction, misdemeanor, or felony that would make you a prohibited person to carry a firearm. So this improves things for the citizens, it improves the safety for our officers, and it begins to organize this so if there was ever a dream of going to Constitutional Carry in the state of Alabama, the first thing that we have to do is begin to maintain proper criminal conviction records,” Robertson concluded.