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 is considered an "open carry" state, which means that most adults may openly carry a firearm without a permit. Most adults can also conceal carry with a permit, although these permits will only be required through the end of 2022. As of January 1, 2023, Alabama will no longer require permits for concealed carry, making the state a permitless or constitutional carry state.
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. (These restrictions and prohibitions are largely unchanged by the new 2023 laws.)
Until December 31, 2022, you must have a permit in Alabama to carry a handgun if it's concealed or in a vehicle, unless you're in your home, on your land, or at your fixed place of business. Unless you're prohibited from owning a gun, you can keep a pistol in your vehicle if it's unloaded or locked in a container and out of reach, even if you don't have a concealed weapon permit. The permit requirement doesn't apply to on-duty law enforcement officers, military personnel, and certain other authorized individuals.
This law will be repealed on January 1, 2023. However, individuals may still get a permit after December 31, 2022, so they can take advantage of reciprocity offered in other states.
(Ala. Code §§ 13A-11-73, 13A-11-74, 13A-11-75 (2022).)
Starting on January 1, 2023, Alabama will no longer require a permit to carry a concealed handgun on one's person or in a vehicle, which will make the state 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.)
Once in effect, the law will require a person to disclose being 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).)
It's illegal to have a firearm in Alabama if you:
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 (2022); Fuller v. State, 231 So.3d 1207 (Ala. Crim. App. 2015).)
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:
(Ala. Code §§ 9-11-304, 13A-11-59, 13A-11-61.2 (2022).)
Alabama also bans the possession or carrying of certain types of guns and ammunition, including:
(Ala. Code §§ 13A-11-54, 13A-11-60, 13A-11-63, 13A-11-64 (2022).)
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/or a fine of up to $15,000:
(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 (2022).)
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.