Meeks: Annual pistol permit sales down

Published 1:49 am Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Wednesday that at face value, it appears the number of pistol permits issued in Covington County each year since the state legislature revamped the pistol permit laws in 2013 has decreased. But “face value” doesn’t tell the whole story, he said.

Meeks, who was the guest speaker at the Andalusia Lions Club meeting, told members the law that took effect in August 2013 was designed to clarify the state’s concealed and open-carry laws and ensure that law-abiding citizens had access to guns.

“They revamped the gun laws,” Meeks said. “Our pistol permit law went from about a two-page law to 26 pages. There is a lot involved.”

Meeks said that in 2013, his department issued 4,040 permits.

In 2014, his office issued 3,007 pistol permits.

That number decreased to 2,356 pistol permits in 2015, and in 2016 that went to just more than 2,700.

“This year, we are projected to issue between 2,200 and 2,300 pistol permits,” he said. “Again a decrease.”

Meeks said he was surprised by the decrease until he thought about the numbers.

“In that new law they passed in 2013, they put a provision that you can purchase the permit anywhere from one to five years,” he said. “We have had several people to get their permits for five years. In fact, the very first year, we had 40 percent purchase a five-year permit.”

With that, Meeks said the county likely has the same number of people who have permits.

“It’s just the annual numbers are decreasing because people are buying them,” he said.

Meeks said that fewer than 1 percent of applicants who apply for pistol permits locally are denied.

“The reason the majority is denied is that they lie on their permit about something,” he said. “Most of them aren’t honest about being arrested for a crime. We have to run a background check, so we are going to find out.”

Additionally, Meeks said the law allows for him to issue 18 to 20-year-olds gun permits, if they haven’t been in trouble.

“There is no provision for me to deny them a permit,” he said. “That gave me some concern and still does. I get a good bit – not so many 18-year-olds – I get a lot of 19- and 20-year-olds.”

Meeks said he made two forms to help ensure safety, and requests that parents sign the forms of students younger than 21.