(a) The sheriff of a county, upon the application of any person residing in that county, may issue a qualified or unlimited license to such person to carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person within this state for not more than one year from date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol, and that he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed. The license shall be in triplicate, in form to be prescribed by the Secretary of State, and shall bear the name, address, description, and signature of the licensee and the reason given for desiring a license. The original thereof shall be delivered to the licensee, the duplicate shall, within seven days, be sent by registered or certified mail to the Director of Public Safety, and the triplicate shall be preserved for six years by the authority issuing the same. The fee for issuing such license shall be one dollar ($1) which shall be paid into the county treasury unless otherwise provided by local law. Prior to issuance of a license, the sheriff shall contact available local, state, and federal criminal history data banks to determine whether possession of a firearm by an applicant would be a violation of state or federal law. The sheriff may revoke a license upon proof that the licensee is not a proper person to be licensed.
(b) The name, address, and signature collected from an applicant or licensee under this section shall be kept confidential, shall be exempt from disclosure under Section 36-12-40, and may only be used for law enforcement purposes except when a current licensee is charged in any state with a felony involving the use of a pistol. All other information on licenses under this section, including information concerning the annual number of applicants, number of licenses issued, number of licenses denied, revenue from issuance of licenses, and any other fiscal or statistical data otherwise, shall remain public writings subject to public disclosure. Except as provided above, the sheriff of a county shall redact the name, address, signature, and photograph of an applicant before releasing a copy of a license for a non-law enforcement purpose. The sheriff may charge one dollar ($1) per copy of any redacted license record requested other than when requested for law enforcement purposes. To knowingly publish or release to the public in any form any information or records related to the licensing process, or the current validity of any license, except as authorized in this subsection or in response to a court order or subpoena, is a Class A misdemeanor.