Archived Story

Bill proposes lifetime permit

Published 11:46am Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sen. Whatley sponsors  gun legislation that allows purchase of lifetime gun license

While gun control is a hotly contested national issue, local Alabama legislators are not content resting on their laurels this legislative session.

Sen. Tom Whatley R-Auburn, sponsored Senate Bill 86 this session to amend current conceal and carry permit  laws regarding pistols.

“The sheriff of a county, upon the application of any person residing in that county, may issue a license… which is valid for the duration of the applicant’s lifetime if the person satisfies the requirements,” Senate Bill 86 states.

Whatley’s proposed bill will allow for a lifetime conceal and carry permit to be purchased at 40 times the local cost of a yearly permit.

Under the current law, applicants or permit holders must renew the permit for a fee of $1 annually.

“I think this bill is just a ‘citizens help’ bill,” Whatley said. “It just cuts red tape – instead of renewing every year, citizens can buy a lifetime permit if they desire.”

The bill maintains the current system of checks and balances, allowing the sheriff of the county in which the resident resides discretion when issuing a lifetime permit by having the applicant go through local, state and federal level background checks.

“If you have a felony or you are mentally ill, then of course the permit is no longer valid and will be taken,” Whatley said.

Whatley said that the biggest issue facing the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not gun control but the mental health issue.

“The main thing we need to do is not worry about gun control. We need to be worried about mental health and mental health issues,” Whatley said. “That is how you solve the problem, not gun control.”

Whatley said he was more concerned about the rights of Alabama’s law-abiding-citizens instead of the national press, and office suite mate Sen. Bryan Taylor R-Prattville, is no exception when examining his colleague’s bill.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to bear arms is an individual and fundamental right,” Taylor said.

The exact language of a bill can have a huge impact on how a bill does in committee and if or when it reaches the floor for a vote.

“The devil is in the details,” Taylor said.

On a local level, if this bill were passed, residents of Alabama could expect the new law to take affect on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the governor.

“As a matter of course, I am not opposed to a lifetime permit opportunity,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said. “ We would need to have a mechanism in place to check on the permit holder in case they commit an infraction that would preclude them from eligibility.”

Whatley is the owner of a pistol but does not have conceal-and-carry permit, and Taylor said that gun ownership is a personal matter and would not disclose that information at this time.

Editor’s note: Troy University journalism student Andrew Clay of Madison, Miss., wrote this story as part of a project partly funded by the Alabama Press Association Journalism Foundation.