Alabama is considered an “open carry” state, which means that it is generally legal for an adult to openly carry a firearm without a permit. In fact, according to Section 26 of the Alabama State Constitution, every citizen “has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.”
Alabama’s open carry policy does not mean, however, that everyone may have a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. The sections that follow explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun
Alabama’s laws forbid the following individuals from possessing a firearm:
- people convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime
- drug addicts or “habitual drunkards,” or
- anyone who intends to do bodily harm on the premises of a public school.
(Alabama Code § 13A-11-72.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in Alabama:
- You may not openly carry a pistol in a vehicle unless you have a permit. Nor may you carry a concealed pistol without a permit, unless you are on your own land, in your own home, or at your fixed place of business. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-73.) There are some exceptions to this rule; see Gun Permit Laws in Alabama.
- You may not carry a pistol on or near your body on premises that do not belong to you or that are not under your control. This law does not apply to law enforcement officers, or the following individuals while on the job: rural free delivery mail carriers, bonded constables, conductors, railway mail clerks, and express messengers. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-52.
- Even if you have a permit, many sheriff’s offices specify that you may not carry a concealed firearm into an airport, courthouse, or criminal justice building. Nor may you carry a gun into public gatherings, such as sporting events, political events, or parades. (Check with your county sheriff’s office for details.)
- You may not possess a firearm while participating in or attending a public demonstration. Nor may you possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a demonstration, after being advised by a law enforcement officer that a demonstration is taking place and that you must leave the area until you no longer possess the firearm. This does not apply to firearms kept in homes or other private structures. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-59.)
- You may not carry a rifle or shotgun walking cane. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-54.)
- You may not possess a short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun. This does not apply to peace officers carrying out their official duties. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-63.)
- You may not carry a firearm within any wildlife management area, except while in possession of a valid permit allowing this privilege. This does not apply to authorized law enforcement officers or officers of the United States forest service, the United States Bureau of Biological Survey, or of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources while carrying out their official duties. (Alabama Code § 9-11-304.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
In Alabama, most gun carry violations are punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $500. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-84.) Here are a few notable exceptions:
People who have committed or attempted to commit a violent crime. If you have been convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime and you are caught in possession of a gun, you may be sentenced to as many as five years in prison. (Alabama Code § 13A-11-84.)
Anyone illegally possessing a short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun. Violations of this law constitute a Class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison. (Alabama Code §§ 13A-11-63, 13A-5-6.)
Anyone possessing a deadly weapon with the intent to do bodily harm on the premises of a public school. Violations of this law constitute a Class C felony, punishable by one to ten years in prison. (Alabama Code §§13A-11-72, 13A-5-6.)
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Alabama, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.