Pistol permits delayed

Published 12:09 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

The issuing of pistol permits and permit renewals in Covington County has hit a snag, thanks to background requirements in the new gun law, Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Wednesday.


Under the new legislation, Alabama sheriffs have 30 days to issue a permit. All who apply for a permit – including renewals – must undergo a background check, said Meeks, who in his capacity as sheriff, is responsible for issuing permits to carry a pistol.

“Before, a person could come into the sheriff’s office, hand over the information and have their permit in a day,” he said. “Not anymore. The background checks are taking longer than normal, and we’re starting to get calls from people who’ve applied but haven’t gotten a response yet.

“Right now, we’re looking at two- to three-week turnaround from the time someone applies to the time they receive their permit,” he said.

Meeks said residents are urged to fill out renewal applications a month prior to their permit’s expiration date.

“Then, there’s no lapse with permits,” he said.

Under the new law, Alabama went from a “may issue” to a “shall issue” state; however, there are many people who cannot obtain a pistol license. Most of these are prohibited because of certain state and federal laws, and include those convicted of committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence; those dishonorably discharged from the armed forces, found to be mentally incompetent or those convicted of domestic violence.

Star-News archives show that there were 4,147 permits issued in Covington County in 2012, and 3,700 permits in 2011.

“We’re seeing an influx of new applicants and renewals, which is what is pushing us behind now in issuing permits because it’s taking so long to get the background checks back,” he said. “We just ask that everyone be patient and apply before their permit expires.”

But in the event a permit is denied, residents should know that sheriffs are required to provide documented reasoning for denying permits, and individuals may appeal the issuing decision.