CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – Some Alabama sheriffs are reporting a decline in pistol permit sales after lawmakers passed a permit-less carry bill and worry it will have an impact on the ability to buy much needed equipment.

The new law will not take effect until January 2023, but in Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said he is already seeing an impact.

For decades, sheriffs like Wade have used the money to buy equipment like vehicles and duty belts. More recently, body cameras have been purchased with the discretionary funds.

“We were working within our means available, and then legislature cut our means,” said Wade.

Wade estimated the yearly pistol permit revenue has been anywhere between $400,000 and $500,000. He’s not against the new measures, but worries about the impact on safety.

“The law is what it is, I am good with it, this is not being for or against permits or the second amendment or none of those things, this is nothing about that, this is strictly about we were defunded,” said Wade.

Around two dozen states already have versions of a permitless carry bill. Alabama lawmakers wanted to fix outdated permitting issues and make sure permits aren’t issued to the wrong people. A new database will be created in Alabama to improve record keeping.

 “The database that Alabama will have, no other state has, it will catch folks that are adjudicated a mental defect or those who are forbidden to carry a gun or real time convicted of a crime and it forbids them to carry a gun,” said Jefferson County representative and veteran law enforcement officer Allen Treadaway.

Treadaway said Alabama was the only state to set aside $5 million in grants for departments to recoup any potential losses from permit

sales, but Wade is concerned because it will rely on 2022 sales numbers that he said are already on the decline.

“Since that law passed, nobody’s buying permits, so if I sell $250,000 in permits this year, then in 2023 I sell $125,000, I can only get the state to make me whole to $250,000, not to the $500,000 I have been used to for 20 years,” said Wade.

Wade said since COVID, he’s had to purchase vehicles a year in advance. He purchased 10 new vehicles in 2021 that just arrived this week and now he is concerned there may be less money to cover the costs.

In addition to the price of the vehicle, he pointed to the cost of outfitting the cars with appropriate gear that can cost around $9,200 per car.

The Calhoun County Commission agreed to find the money to cover the difference, but he worries about the future.

“The other day I sold 3 permits all day. 3 permits. Normally we’d sell $2,000 worth a day probably,” said Wade.

Lawmakers like Treadaway said they would monitor the numbers at the end of the year, but questioned whether the concern was premature.

“I think the legislature is committed to going back if that is the case and looking at these numbers and it is not unusual to tweak a bill and go back and capture some of those lost revenues. I am speaking for myself, I am not speaking for others, but I would certainly support that in the legislature, but we are not there yet. This law does not even take effect until January of 2023,” said Treadaway.

Wade hopes that lawmakers will consider the challenges that counties face. He pointed out that municipalities often have more tax revenue and can pass local laws to fund law enforcement. Counties must seek additional money from the legislature, he said.

“The legislature took care of the part that was popular but they didn’t take care of the part that was needed and that was the funding of the sheriff’s office,” said Wade.

Treadaway said overall he believes the new law would increase safety for officers and the public by not allowing some permit applicants to slip through cracks and obtain documentation that they shouldn’t be able to. He promised to continue to watch the situation.

“We are going to be monitoring this very closely but it is important to know that database we now have has brought this process up to date and without going into all of it, I can sit here and honestly tell you that we are going to be safer as citizens of the state of Alabama, and our law enforcement officers are going to be safer,” said Treadaway.

Stay with CBS 42 for updates throughout the year.