Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Alabama

Learn about Alabama’s laws on the possession and carrying of guns.

By , Legal Editor
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated 1/01/2023

The Alabama State Constitution makes it clear that all citizens have "a fundamental right to bear arms" for self-defense and defense of the state (Ala. Const. art. I, § 26). Learn how Alabama lawmakers have implemented these gun rights and what restrictions are in place on who and where one may carry a gun.

Alabama's Open Carry and Concealed Carry Gun Laws

Alabama is considered an "open carry" state, which means that most adults may openly carry a firearm without a permit. As of January 1, 2023, Alabama no longer requires permits for concealed carry, making the state a permitless or constitutional carry state. (Individuals may still get permits, if they want to take advantage of reciprocity offered in other states.)

Despite these designations, not everyone is allowed to have a gun or carry one wherever they like. Alabama courts have long held that the state may impose reasonable regulations on the right to bear arms. This article explains state restrictions on who can possess a firearm and where, along with prohibitions on certain types of firearms.

Alabama Is a Permitless or Constitutional Carry State

Alabama law doesn't require a permit to carry a concealed handgun on one's person or in a vehicle—it's a permitless or constitutional carry state. Individuals who are not prohibited from possessing a handgun can open or conceal carry without a permit in unrestricted public areas. (Prohibited persons and places are discussed below.)

Even though a permit isn't required, rules still apply when carrying a handgun. For instance, a person must disclose that they are in possession of a concealed firearm or pistol upon being questioned by a law enforcement officer. Any driver or passenger pulled over in a vehicle will need to disclose whether any loaded handguns are in the vehicle, and they will be prohibited from touching the handgun without officer permission. An officer can take a handgun if the officer believes it's necessary to protect the safety of the officer or others.

(Ala. Code § 13A-11-50 (2023); Ala. H.B. 272, §§ 3, 4, 5 (2022).)

People Prohibited From Gun Possession in Alabama

It's illegal to have a firearm in Alabama if you:

  • have been convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime, including domestic violence
  • are subject to a valid protection order for domestic abuse
  • are of "unsound mind," meaning that authorities have found you're a danger because of mental illness, you're mentally incompetent or insane, or you must be committed to a psychiatric hospital
  • are a minor, with a few exceptions (such as when you're on your parents' property, hunting with a license, or target shooting under adult supervision)
  • are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or
  • intend to harm someone on public school property.

If you're charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you can try to defend yourself by arguing that you needed the gun for self-defense. However, you can't rely on Alabama's "stand your ground" law, meaning that you must retreat if that's possible.

(Ala. Code §§ 13A-3-23, 13A-11-72 (2023); Fuller v. State, 231 So.3d 1207 (Ala. Crim. App. 2015).)

Places in Alabama Where Carrying a Gun Is Illegal

Unless you're an on-duty law enforcement or another authorized official, you may not carry guns in certain places without express permission from the authority in charge. These prohibited places include:

  • police, sheriff, or highway patrol stations
  • courthouses or judicial complexes or buildings
  • a building that houses a district attorney's office
  • any building where a county commission or city council is having a meeting
  • prisons, jails, or other detention facilities
  • mental health and psychiatric facilities
  • public demonstrations
  • school-sponsored or professional athletic events unrelated to guns
  • buildings or facilities that restrict unauthorized persons through security guards or other security measures, and
  • wildlife management areas (unless you have a valid permit specific to those areas ).

(Ala. Code §§ 9-11-304, 13A-11-59, 13A-11-61.2 (2023).)

Types of Prohibited Firearms in Alabama

Alabama also bans the possession or carrying of certain types of guns and ammunition, including:

  • carrying walking canes that are actually rifles or shotguns
  • possession of short-barreled rifles or shotguns in violation of federal law
  • possession or sale of a gun after its identification mark has been altered, and
  • possession of brass or steel Teflon-coated handgun ammunition designed to penetrate a bullet-proof vest.

(Ala. Code §§ 13A-11-54, 13A-11-60, 13A-11-63, 13A-11-64 (2023).)

Penalties for Gun Carry Violations in Alabama

In Alabama, most gun-carry violations are misdemeanors, punishable by fines and up to 3, 6, or 12 months in jail. However, the following violations are Class C felonies, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000:

  • possession of a gun after a conviction for a violent crime or domestic violence crime, while subject to a valid domestic abuse protection order, or after being found to be of "unsound mind"
  • possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to harm someone at a school
  • giving false information in order to obtain or register a pistol, and
  • possession of a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, a firearm with altered identification, or prohibited penetrating ammunition.

(Ala. Code §§ 13A-5-6, 13A-5-7, 13A-5-11, 13A-5-12, 13A-11-60, 13A-11-63, 13A-11-64, 13A-11-72, 13A-11-81, 13A-11-84 (2023).)

Getting Legal Help

As you can see, the penalties for violating gun carry laws may be 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.

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