Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza discusses changes that went into effect regarding purchases of firearms in Alabama.

The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently made an amendment to a procedure to be followed to comply with the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act.

As of July 22, anyone purchasing a firearm and/or a concealed carry permit in the state of Alabama must complete a background check through the National Information Center (NIC).

The new amendment overrides an amendment to Alabama Code 13A-11-75 that determined Alabama’s concealed carry permits could be used as an alternative to a NIC background check.

“All the U.S. Department of Justice is doing is going back to how the law was written,” said Houston County Sheriff’s Donald Valenza. “No one is trying to infringe on anyone’s gun rights. All we are doing is making sure the law is followed when it comes to purchasing a concealed carry permit or a firearm.”

Retailers who do not follow the law can face federal and state punishment, Valenza said.

“Using a concealed carry permit as an alternative to a NIC check can be dangerous,” Valenza said. “Our concealed carry permits can be purchased per year, per two years, up to every five years, and even though by looking at the card it may look legal, that individual may be illegal before the permit expires. That’s why a NIC background check is a must. NIC is always up-to-date.”

An NCI check only takes a couple of minutes to be completed.

“Having a NIC check run is not time-consuming,” Valenza said. “As long as the purchaser is a law-abiding citizen, the check is quick and it ensures the purchaser and seller are obeying the law. As for purchasing a new concealed carry permit, the wait is longer than a few minutes, but that is just because of the number of permits we issue. This office has always run federal background checks for concealed carry permits, so Houston County residents will see no change when applying for a concealed carry permit, only when purchasing a firearm.”

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