Firearms law

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has removed the exception to the Brady Act gun dealers have been able to sell under.

Last month individuals could purchase firearms in Alabama simply by showing a current concealed carry permit issued by a sheriff according to The Sure Shot owner Woody Baird, but that is no longer the case.

Baird said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has removed the exception to the Brady Act gun dealers have been able to sell under.

“We had some sheriffs issuing permits to felons,” Baird said. “People convicted of felonies are not allowed to carry firearms.”

The ATF notified Alabama Federal Licensees last month of the change in the exemption for the permit. The notice gives details of the provisions of the Brady Act passed by Congress in 1998. It states, “The Brady Act generally requires federal firearms licensees to initiate a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person. However, the Brady Act contains exceptions to the NICS check requirement, including an exception for holders of certain state permits to possess, carry or acquire firearms.”

In 2016 the ATF said Alabama Federal Firearms Licensees could use the conceal carry permits based on Alabama Code requiring background checks were to be done to issue the permit.

The notice supports Baird’s statement about sheriffs issuing permits to felons.

“Because county sheriffs have issued conceal carry permits without completing a full NICS check, firearms have been transferred to felons and other prohibited individuals in violation of federal law thereby creating a substantial public safety concern,” the ATF statement reads. “For this reason, the standards set forth in the Brady law require us to find that Alabama’s conceal carry permits no longer qualify as a NICS check alternative. In the interest of public safety and effective immediately, federal firearms licensees in Alabama may no longer accept conceal carry permits as an alternative to a NICS check.”

The move does not stop the sale of firearms between a store such as The Sure Shot to an individual; it just means there is another step in the process similar to what was done before the permit exception was issued.

“We used to make a call and get the background check over the phone,” Baird said. “Then they said we could make the sale when someone presented the permit. Now, we are required to do a background check for every firearms purchase.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.