By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A bill that would create a lifetime concealed carry permit and require the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to develop a statewide firearm “prohibited person” database passed its final vote on Thursday.
Senate Bill 308 from Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, also sets the fee for a lifetime carry permit at $300, or $150 for applicants older than 60.
The bill passed with a final vote of 69-18. It now goes to the governor.
Rep. Proncey Robertson, R-Mt. Hope, carried the House version of the bill and said it will bring all 67 counties under the same permit process and does not inhibit a person’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“The first step was just to bring some standardization and some organization to the process of getting a concealed carry permit,” Robertson said. “With that, we added the opportunity for our citizens to buy a lifetime permit, which will really give them more flexibility.”
The bill also requires each sheriff to prepare annual reports on the number of permits issued and renewed and a detailed accounting of the fees collected and distributed.
Alabamians are still able to purchase yearly or five-year permits and the bill does not change how those local funds are spent. For the funds pertaining to the lifetime carry permit, 80% will go to sheriffs while the other 20% goes to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to help support the upkeep of the database.
The bill has been in development in the Legislature for multiple years and has the support of groups like the Alabama Sheriffs Association and the National Rifle Association.
Robertson, a retired Decatur Police Department officer, stressed that his legislation does not create any sort of registry for permit holders and all data is to be kept at the local level.
“No one has to be concerned about their name being in this prohibited database unless they are prohibited or convicted in a court of law or adjudicated by a judge,” Robertson said.
Background checks would still be conducted every five years for those who hold lifetime permits.
Sheriffs who deny a permit or a renewal of a permit have to articulate their reasoning with a written notice and an appeal process is provided as well.
Some members thought the bill didn’t go far enough. Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro, supported the bill but said more should be done to stop gun violence in the state.
“It’s a big problem, look at cities across this state, most of the crimes happening are from people illegally owning a gun,” Howard said.
Price told reporters that the prohibited person database will now make it easier for law enforcement to check if a person is legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm and will hopefully increase safety.
“To make sure that the men and women across this state that go out every day to make sure that you and our families are all safe, that we give them some tools to work with,” Price said.