ATF: Gun sellers issued mandate after AL Sheriffs failed to conduct background checks

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — Federal authorities have issued mandates to licensed firearm sellers after they claim some Alabama Sheriff’s agencies have failed to conduct background checks on concealed carry applicants.

Since 2016, licensed gun dealers could rely on concealed carry permits to trust an an extensive background check has been done by county law enforcement agencies.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has reversed that decision, once again requiring firearm businesses to conduct their own background checks.

ATF officials said a federal audit revealed some Sheriff’s Offices failed to properly vet pistol permit applicants for years.

Capt. Paul Burch, with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, said that has never been the case with their agency.

“In Mobile County, we follow the letter of the law when we issue permits,” said Burch.

Burch said the news is concerning for areas of the state where the law wasn’t followed, especially since ATF claims felons, or illegal immigrants, ended up with guns as a result.

“Certainly there’s a risk to the department as well as the citizens in that community. Because you potentially have given someone a permit to carry a concealed weapon who may not be lawfully able to carry a gun,” Burch said.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack issued the following statement:

“We have been doing the full checks with the NICS system since 2013. Prior to 2013, we also did for state background checks every time a person gets a new permit or renews their permit. We have been compliant in all areas of the requirements for background checks.”

Tom Hand, owner of Gold Mine Pawn Shop, said the change could mean legal buyers will have to wait longer.

“The people who were getting permits should not have ever had a permit in the first place. There are a few bad apples making it inconvenient for a lot of other people who are law abiding citizens,” said Hand.

Burch believes going back to the way the system worked prior to 2016 is a good thing.

“You can purchase a concealed carry permit for up to 5 years. The only time a new background check is done is when you renew your permit. Well, a lot of things can happen in a person’s life in 5 years,” Burch said.

ATF has not released which county agencies have failed to comply with federal background checks.

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