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Lifetime pistol permit passes Senate

The Alabama Senate passed a bill that would allow for the purchase of lifetime pistol permits in Alabama.

The bill now moves to the House for approval. If approved, it would then pass to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for the final approval. However, if the bill ultimately passes, Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said the bill would ultimately cost the sheriff’s office in every county income.

“I don’t think it will make much of a difference right now,” Thomas said. “We only get about $20,000 or $25,000 a year from pistol permits. We use the money for training and equipment. We don’t receive money from the [Pike County] commission for that. They’ve always been good to us and have always worked with us. It’s not that they don’t want to give us a big budget, it’s just they don’t have the money to do that.

“It’s also part of our responsibility to help pay for training and equipment. It cost is $9,000 to $10,000 for ammunition every year because we have to have training and qualifying for 24 people three times a year.  That’s not just for handguns. We have to have qualifying on rifles, shotguns, tasers … We also have to have training every year. We try to do a lot online, but sometimes you have to send people off for training.”

Thomas said money from pistol permits also helps fund equipment — everything from fingerprint powder to radios.  While Thomas said the bill wouldn’t affect operations very much now, a few years down the road could be different.

The cost of a pistol permit is $20 per year. Permits can be issued for one, two, three, four or five years currently. If the bill, sponsored by Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, passes, a lifetime pistol permit would cost $300. That amounts to 15 years of fees for an annual permit.

If all the current pistol permit holders in Pike County bought a lifetime permit, the sheriffs office would receive a hefty sum of money up front — $300,000 for every 1,000 permits sold — but wouldn’t receive any money from those permit holders ever again.

Thomas said in the long-run, the bill amounted to “defunding” sheriff’s offices. If those same permit holders continued to buy permits according to the current model, they would have to get a new permit issued every one to five years and would continue buying permits as long as they wanted a pistol permit.

Thomas said the bill was a compromise and he could live with it. The bill also standardizes the policy for issuing permits, repealing permits and performing background checks statewide.