Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Alabama

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

Alabama is considered an “open carry” state, which means that most adults may openly carry a firearm without a permit. 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).

This doesn’t mean, however, that 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 laws on concealed carry permits, people who aren’t allowed to have guns, places where guns are banned, and prohibited firearms.

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 do harm someone on public school property.

If you’re charged with this crime, 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; Fuller v. State, 231 So.3d 1207 (Ala. Crim. App. 2015).)

Concealed Carry Permit Requirement

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. (Ala. Code § § 13A-11-73, 13A-11-74.)

Places Where Carrying a Gun Is Illegal

Unless you’re an on-duty law enforcement or other authorized official, you may not carry guns in certain places, including:

  • police, sheriff, or highway patrol stations
  • courthouses, criminal justice buildings, or any building where a county commission or city council is having a meeting
  • prisons, jails, or other detention facilities
  • mental health facilities
  • public demonstrations
  • school-sponsored or professional athletic events unrelated to guns (unless you have a concealed carry permit or express permission from someone in authority), or
  • 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.)

Types of Prohibited Firearms in Alabama

Alabama also bans 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.)

Penalties for Gun Carry Violations

In Alabama, most gun carry violations are Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000. However, the following violations are Class C felonies, punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000:

  • possession of a gun while committing or attempting to commit 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 a pistol 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.)

Look Out for Legal Changes

States can change their laws at any time. You can use this search tool find the current statutes discussed in this article.

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.

Updated May, 30, 2019

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