By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
The state’s new gun law aimed at clarifying existing regulations on when and where citizens can carry firearms will take effect Thursday, Aug. 1.
SB 286 revamped guidelines creates an appeal process for those denied pistol permits by county sheriffs and allows employees to carry guns in their vehicles at work as long as they are kept unloaded, out of sight and secured in a locked compartment.
Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey said it will not change the way his office issues permits. However, he expects the law could be “tweaked” and “adjusted” as it is enforced.
“There’s some vague areas in the law that I think may have issues and challenges going forward because it all depends on how you interpret the law,” Rainey said.
Earlier this year, Rainey joined other local and state law enformcent officials who voiced serious concerns with an original version of the law which did away with a sheriff’s authority to deny a concealed carry permit and a ban on firearms at public demonstrations. Those provisions were later removed from the law that was eventually enacted.
“Overall, I am comfortable and can live with the law that was passed,” Rainey said. “I think every law abiding citizen should be able to protect themselves and their family.”
Rainey said his office will follow the same policy of checking a person’s criminal background before issuing a permit. Those convicted of Class A felonies, some Class B felonies, including drug distribution or manufacturing, and domestic violence will be denied, along with those who have protection from abuse orders issued against them.
“The process we have of issuing permits is a good filter,” Rainey said. “I’ve never denied anyone who shouldn’t have been denied one. We take issuing pistol permits very seriously because we do not want firearms getting into the wrong hands.”
The sheriff’s office issued 9,844 pistol permits last year, he said. Permits are $15 each, and the revenue is part of the sheriff’s discretionary budget which is to be used to serve a law enforcement purpose.
Rainey said two provisions of the new law will be particulary beneficial to citizens: pistol permits can now be purchased with debit and credit cards and will be good for up to five years after approved and fees are paid.
Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, who sponsored the legislation said he believed the new gun regulations clarified the state’s existing laws on firearms that were causing confusion and problems.
“I think it strikes the right balance of ensuring people’s right to protect themselves while safeguarding public safety from a law enforcement stand point,” Henry said.
* Tiffeny Owens can be reached at email@example.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 135.