ROBERTSDALE — With a nearly $40 million annual budget, the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office won't miss the approximately $500,000 generated from concealed carry permits when the state's new permitless carry law kicks in next year.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack told 1819 News the commission is helping fill the void of lost funds.
"In Baldwin County, we are very blessed," said Mack. "They are very good to me as far as funding … It's just not that big of a deal for us."
In 2021, revenue from permits was around $685,000 in Baldwin County. Even though the permitless carry law doesn't go into effect until 2023, the number of people purchasing permits in 2022 dropped statewide. For Baldwin County, that meant a 40% loss from 2021 to 2022.
Mack explained that 80% of permit revenue has gone towards training for deputies.
"I've never actually had a line-item budget for training in the budget," Mack explained. "We funded all of our training out of concealed carry. So, with the loss of that revenue, it causes us a significant impact on our training. So, the county commission this year has stepped up and is supplementing my budget a little bit to make up for that decrease."
Mack said he has been very involved in the sheriff's association, even serving as president in 2014, so he has spoken with lawmakers frequently about concealed carry licenses and the needs of the sheriff's office.
In February of this year, before the legislature passed permitless carry, also known as "Constitutional Carry," Mack attended a rally in Montgomery protesting the law. The rally included representatives from the Alabama Sheriff's Association (ASA), the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, the Alabama Association of School Resource Officers, several local police chiefs, and members of Mom's Demand Action.
Mack took the podium saying lawmakers have more important things to do than worry about permitless carry. He asked for lawmakers to support law enforcement.
"Let's get back to a time in which we do put people in prison," he said at the rally. "Let's support our prison system. Let's make sure that we enhance the penalties once again for criminal activity and keep the criminals where they need to be. If we want to support law enforcement, we need to be having a lot more conversations about legislation other than permitless carry."
When Mack sat down with 1819 News last week, he admitted the paid permit system was not the best way to collect revenue from the beginning. He said at that time, sheriff's offices were operated off fees and struggled with revenue.
SEE ALSO: Counties claim loss in revenue from permitless 'constitutional' carry months before law takes effect
"All the way up until they wrote the Major Criminal Justice Act, which was in the 70s, the sheriffs were on a total fee system," Mack explained. "The county commissions did not fund the sheriff's offices. There were sheriff's offices in the state that were operating with 50% of their budget being from pistol permit revenue."
Mack said the pistol permit system is part of the government evolving and the people reacting to possible federal government changes, such as gun control measures. He said while the lack of funds will not cripple his county, it could impact smaller counties with less revenue from other sources.
Now, the state is allowing sheriff's offices to issue lifetime permits, which are now available in Baldwin County. Mack pointed out that people who plan to travel to some states with concealed firearms must still have a permit.
"If you're going to carry your weapon into another state, you have to have an Alabama permit," Mack said. "Well, the Florida line is 20 miles right there, and in Florida, if you don't have a permit, it's a felony."
Florida and Louisiana still require permits, but Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee do not. It is important to note that concealed carry permits are only for those concealing pistols on their person or vehicle. Permits are not required for open carry.
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