Nationally, some states have pushed to adopt so-called “constitutional” permitless carry, which, according to proponents, would allow someone to exercise their Second Amendment rights and carry a firearm without restrictions on the state level.
Despite a vocal effort supporting the practice, Alabama policymakers have been resistant to adopting the policy. State Rep. Proncey Robertson (R-Mt. Hope) attributes that in part to Alabama’s substandard record-keeping system, which poses challenges to law enforcement’s ability to track individuals prohibited from possessing a firearm.
During an interview that aired on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Robertson explained how he was working to improve record-keeping, in addition to offering a lifetime permit option for gun owners in Alabama.
“I had a lot of people reaching out to me: ‘Hey, what happened to your bill for a lifetime carry option?'” he said. “With that, I did introduce that and reached out to leadership. We’ve got it now through the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. Hopefully, we’ll get it to the floor next week for a vote. There’s been a lot of work done with the sheriffs’ association, as well as the NRA being involved in that, [Alabama Law Enforcement Agency] — because of the way I’m doing the bill a little bit different.”
“Constitutional carry or permitless carry — there are a lot of states that have gone to it,” he said. “I think we’re up to 17 or 18 — something like that. Folks want to know, why aren’t we doing that in Alabama? Well, some of these other states, and this is from my background in law enforcement, have done a better job than us over the decades of really our record-keeping, if you will, of identifying who those people are who are prohibited under state or federal law to possess a firearm. So, Alabama is almost backward in the sense of relying upon who is the good guy, right — who has a permit to help us narrow down who shouldn’t have one. I don’t think we should be doing that either.”
The current system of permitting, he said, has a built-in failsafe of keeping a check on individuals prohibited from possessing firearms.
“But to do away with the requirement to have a permit would leave our officers out there on the street with no way to determine when they come across someone who is a prohibited person,” Robertson explained. “Right now, they could at least arrest that person for failure to get a permit. In other words, possession of a firearm without a permit, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. That allows them to do the research, to dig into those old antiquated files and find out how is the person really a restricted individual and make the felon in possession charge, for instance. That takes time.”
The Lawerence County Republican lawmaker says he is trying to create a better record-keeping system to aid the courts with reporting to ALEA’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) as a way to track which individuals are prohibited from owning a firearm based on a prior criminal charge.
“I’m not talking about collecting information here on people who are buying pistols,” he said. “I’m talking about an information system that collects that from the courts.”
Robertson likened the system to the sex offender registry, linked to an individual’s driver’s license.
“They would know if someone is prohibited to have a firearm,” Robertson explained. “And they would be able to deal with them accordingly. The permits then become a lot less important.”
He noted that most gun owners have not committed a crime and should not be subject to annual background checks.
“Why do you have to keep going back year after year after year to get the same background check and get the same permit over and over again?” he said. “So, to at least start us in the right direction, to move us toward the possibility that we could do a permitless system — number one, we need that record-keeping bill. Number two, I am trying to help our citizens by giving them the option to purchase a one-and-done lifetime permit.”
Robertson explained the cost of the permit varies from county to county, which he said was determined by local legislation. However, he added his lifetime permit proposal would include a fee of $200, with the responsibility falling on sheriff departments to conduct a background check once every five years on the lifetime permit holder.
“I think that is a great option for our citizens, who are law-abiding, that aren’t getting in trouble for at least a year and shouldn’t be required to come back year after year after year,” he added.
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.