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Carrying Concealed Weapons in Alabama

Alabama Carry Laws Cover

All 50 U.S. states have laws that allow a person to carry concealed firearms or weapons for  lawful purposes such as personal protection. Thirty-three U.S. states require a permit or license  to carry concealed firearms or weapons. Seventeen states do not require a license to carry a  concealed handgun. 

Of the 33 states that require weapons permits, 23 are “shall issue,” which means they issue  permits to any applicant who meets the requirements as set forth by the state’s applicable laws  about obtaining a concealed weapon for defensive purposes. The remaining ten states are  “may issue,” which means they have legal discretion to issue or deny permits. There are  approximately 19.5 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States.

The decision to obtain a firearm is a significant event and not one to be taken lightly. A gun is a  deadly weapon, so any gun owner needs to have a solid understanding of the regulation of  firearms in the state where they reside and federal and state laws nationwide. Knowledge of  gun laws applies to the sale of all firearms from licensed dealers, whether handguns or rifles.  Still, when it comes to carrying a concealed weapon, for safety, both for the owner and the  public, it is vital to be fully aware of the responsibilities of having a concealed weapon permit.  

A great way to become familiar with the laws for handguns in any state is to attend at least one  firearms safety training class. Across the United States, the certification process varies. Still,  most permit programs include an education component, either in person or online. Applicants  must pass an exam that confirms their understanding of gun safety and carrying a concealed  weapon exclusively for defense and lawful purposes.  

In some states, applicants must also display basic proficiency with a handgun by firing an  average of five rounds at a target using an ordinary sight. Most shooting ranges include a  Concealed Carry Permit course as part of their service so applicants can take relevant  knowledge and shooting tests at the same time at the same place. 

Concealed carry training Alabama
Some states involve a live fire qualification in their concealed carry permit requirements.

An Overview of Alabama Gun Laws

The State of Alabama is the sole authority governing gun laws and the sale of firearms in the  state, preempting any local restrictions, with exceptions. Alabama is considered friendly to  firearm rights and the possession of firearms. No permits are required to purchase handguns or  long guns, and no owner license is required. Firearms do not need to be registered.  

Though there are ammunition restrictions (e.g., Teflon-coated lead), Alabama has no magazine  capacity restrictions. Gun owners can carry in restaurants/bars that serve alcohol. No firearm safety training or knowledge of firearm laws are necessary in order to be issued a permit (though responsible gun owners should do so). In the sticky area of short-barreled rifles or a  short-barreled shotguns, federal regulations apply, and possession of this type of firearm may make you subject to Class C felony charges. As always, there are exceptions for peace officers  discharging their official duties. 

While gun laws are the same throughout the state, enforcement, and some restrictions, are left  to local entities. A notable example is that the state does not mandate policies that cover guns  on public school property K-12 and at college and universities but left up to local school boards  and college/universities to control over-regulation. 

On public grounds or a public street, on foot Open Carry is allowed, with one significant  exception that applies to all gun owners: it is against the law to carry weapons at or near public  demonstrations. To Open Carry firearms on private property requires a valid permit. However,  gun owner’s intent, in keeping with the state policy of imposing as little government intrusion  as possible, can circumvent this requirement if they are on the premises with permission to  carry from the property owner. 

The state requires criminal background checks for licensed firearms dealers, but private gun  sales do not require background checks. It is against the law for licensed and private dealers to  sell guns to individuals prohibited from owning such weapons as per Alabama law. 

In Alabama, there is no duty to retreat. Alabama’s stand your ground law is called The Castle  Doctrine. This firearm law entitles a gun owner to use their weapon to prevent bodily harm if  they have a reasonable belief, Cthey will be the victim of a violent crime.

Carrying Concealed Weapons in the State of Alabama

Alabama is a “shall-issue” state, which applies to resident Alabama Pistol permits only. Alabama  does not issue permits to non-residents, with exceptions for some classifications of military  service members. Permits apply only to handguns, not other types of guns like a shotgun or  short-barrel rifle, or firearm accessories. A state agency does not administer a carry permit.  Sheriffs issue licenses to those who meet the essential criteria detailed below. Alabama has  issued just over one million resident Alabama Pistol Permits, amounting to 22% of the state’s  population. The primary statute that governs concealed carry permits is: 

Alabama Code Section 13A-11-50: Carrying concealed weapons. 

Except as otherwise provided in this Code, a person who carries concealed about his person a  bowie knife or knife or instrument of like-kind or description or a pistol or firearm of any  other kind or an air gun shall, on conviction, be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than  $500.00, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the  county for not more than six months. 

However, if a gun owner carrying a concealed firearm for valid protection without a license uses  it to defend him or herself against a crime of violence, or what he or she believes is an assault with intent to commit a violent offense (e.g., domestic violence), there is mutual recognition of  exceptional circumstances, and this may mitigate punishment.  

A person must have a valid Alabama Pistol Permit to have a visible pistol in the vehicle and  ammunition in his or her vehicle. If a gun owner does not have a license, he or she may still  carry a gun and ammunition in a vehicle. However, it must be an unloaded pistol or unloaded  handgun, stored in a fixed, non-movable compartment that is out of reach of the driver and  passengers alike. If police stop an individual, he or she does not have to notify the police officer  a gun is in the vehicle but must provide an honest answer if asked. 

Alabama licenses to carry a concealed firearm are valid for 1-5 years. The state allows the  permit recipient to choose how many years they wish for their license to be valid. Pistol permit  charges are assessed on a sliding scale based on the number of years. Fees are typically $20 (1  year) – $100 (5 year). Some counties offer discounts to seniors. 

Alabama CCW permit

Reciprocity in Alabama

In addition, individual U.S. states have entered into “Reciprocity for Licenses” with other states  that honor a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) from another state, with varying restrictions.  Multi-state permits allow the carrying of firearms or concealed firearms in many states that  honor a recognition of licenses. 

Thirty-two U.S. states honor Alabama’s License to Carry Firearms in their state, and in return,  Alabama recognizes concealed carry permits from those states. Regardless of the issuing state’s  regulations, all gun owners must adhere to Alabama gun laws while in the state, and Alabama  residents who travel to states with reciprocal agreements must comply with that state’s firearm  laws. Alabama licensees who are under the age of twenty-one have permits valid only in  Alabama.

Requirements to be Issued a Concealed Weapons License

Alabama has a concise list of statutory criteria for who is not eligible to be a concealed handgun  license holder. Applicants need to be at least eighteen years old and a resident in the county in  which he or she is applying. 

Since only county Sheriff’s offices can issue a valid permit, Sheriffs have the only discretion to  deny or revoke licenses in their communities based on demonstrable concerns for public safety.  Sheriffs must have reasonable suspicion you are not a suitable person to have a permit and  provide sufficient proof. 

“In making such determination, the sheriff may consider whether the applicant:

1. Was found guilty but mentally ill in a criminal case. 

2. Was found not guilty in a criminal case by reason of insanity or mental disease or defect.

3. Was declared incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case. 

4. Asserted a defense in a criminal case of not guilty by reason of insanity or mental  disease or defect. 

5. Was found not guilty only by reason of lack of mental responsibility under the Uniform  Code of Military Justice. 

6. Required involuntary inpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital or similar treatment  facility. 

7. Required involuntary outpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital or similar treatment  facility based on a finding that the person is an imminent danger to himself or herself or  to others. 

8. Required involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital or similar treatment facility  for any reason, including drug use. 

9. Is or was the subject of a prosecution or of a commitment or incompetency proceeding  that could lead to a prohibition on the receipt or possession of a firearm under the laws  of Alabama or the United States. 

10. Falsified any portion of the permit application. 

11. Caused justifiable concern for public safety. 

(b). The sheriff shall take into account how recent any consideration under paragraph a.  is in relation to the date of the application. The sheriff shall provide a written statement  of the reasons for a denial of a permit and the evidence upon which it is based must be disclosed to the applicant, unless disclosure would interfere with a criminal  investigation. 

(c). Except as otherwise provided by the laws of this state, a permit issued under this  subdivision is valid throughout the state. 

(d). Except as expressly provided in this section, a sheriff may not place conditions or  requirements on the issuance of a pistol permit or limit its scope or applicability.”

Where You Can Carry a Concealed Weapon

In Alabama, licensees, or non-residents with permits from a state with which Alabama has a  Reciprocity Agreement, are authorized to carry concealed handguns in: 

  • Private vehicle, including an employee parking lot as long as the handgun is secured and away from ordinary observation.
  • Roadside rest areas.
  • Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
  • Public places, including state parks, with exceptions detailed below.
  • National Parks, or a National Forest, as long as the gun owner adheres to applicable federal gun laws.
  • Private property, with exceptions detailed below.

Where You Can’t Carry a Concealed Weapon

In Alabama, licensees, or non-residents with permits from a state with which Alabama has a  Reciprocity Agreement, are not authorized to Open Carry or carry concealed firearms or  weapons into:

  • Inside the building of a police, sheriff, or highway patrol station.
  • Inside or on the premises of a prison, jail, halfway house, community corrections facility, or other detention facility for those who have been charged with or convicted of a  criminal or juvenile offense.
  • Inside of a facility which provides inpatient or custodial care of those with psychiatric, mental, or emotional disorders.
  • Inside a courthouse, courthouse annex, a building in which a District Attorney’s office is located, or a building in which a county commission or city council is currently having a  regularly scheduled or specially called meeting.
  • Inside any facility hosting an athletic event not related to or involving firearms which is sponsored by a private or public elementary or secondary school or any private or public institution of postsecondary education, unless the person has a permit issued under  Section 13A-11-75(a)(1) or recognized under Section 13A-11-85.
  • Inside any facility hosting a professional athletic event not related to or involving firearms, unless the person has a permit issued under other applicable law.
  • A person, including a person with a permit issued under other applicable law, may not, without the express permission of a person or entity with authority over the premises,  knowingly possess or carry a firearm inside any building or facility to which access of unauthorized persons and prohibited articles is limited during normal hours of  operation by the continuous posting of guards and the use of other security features,  including, but not limited to, magnetometers, key cards, biometric screening devices, or  turnstiles or other physical barriers. Nothing in this subsection otherwise restricts the  possession, transportation, or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in  an employee’s privately-owned motor vehicle while parked or operated in a public or  private parking area provided the employee complies with applicable requirements.
  • The person or entity with authority over the premises set forth… shall place a notice at the public entrances of such premises or buildings alerting those entering that firearms  are prohibited, with exceptions of applicable law, most notably those governing  possession of firearms in vehicles.
It’s important to be aware of where you can and can’t carry. In Alabama, you cannot conceal and carry in a courthouse.

Applying for Alabama’s License to Carry Firearms

Unlike some states, in Alabama, a central state agency does not uniformly issue pistol permits.  County Sheriff’s offices issue a concealed handgun permit. Process and procedures vary. Check the website of your county Sheriff’s office for application and renewal forms, instructions, and  pistol permit charges. 

Alabama Code Section 13A-11-75 dictates:

The sheriff of a county, upon the application of any person residing in that county, within 30  days from receipt of a complete application and accompanying fee, shall issue or renew a  permit for such person to carry a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person  within this state for one- to five-year increments, as requested by the person seeking the  permit, from date of issue. 

Each permit shall be written or in an electronic or digital form to be prescribed by the  Secretary of State in consultation with the Alabama Sheriff’s Association and shall bear the  name, address, description, and signature of the permittee. The original hard copy of the  permit shall be issued to the permittee, and a duplicate shall, within seven days, be sent by  registered or certified mail to the Secretary of the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency.  The application and a copy shall be preserved for six years by the authority issuing the same.

Be aware that public disclosure of private gun licensing data is a Class A Misdemeanor Offense,  so do not be too wary of public records laws. 

There are special rules for Law Enforcement Officers, retired Law Enforcement Officers, and  military personnel. Standard permitting requirements do not apply. Please follow the links  below for additional information.

For More Information

The information in this article is only a general overview of Alabama’s concealed carry laws and  processes. For more information on how to obtain an Alabama License to Carry Firearms, see:

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