In 2022, Alabama enacted “permitless carry” by repealing a longstanding prohibition on carrying a concealed handgun in public without a permit subject to a background check.1 As of January 1, 2023, anyone age 18 or over who is not prohibited by state or federal law may carry a handgun in the state without a permit, background check, or safety training.
Alabama has maintained its concealed carry permit system for individuals who wish to carry in states that require a permit and offer reciprocity to Alabama permits.
Alabama law generally requires that permits are issued to people who meet the necessary requirements, meaning that a sheriff of a county must issue a concealed handgun license to an applicant who is 19-years-of-age or older, meets other statutory criteria and is not prohibited from possessing a handgun or firearm pursuant to state or federal law.2 The sheriff shall complete a criminal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and review the state firearms prohibited person database.*3 The sheriff shall also review any other available local, state, and federal criminal history databases to determine whether possession of a firearm by an applicant would be a violation of state or federal law.4 If the applicant is not a United States citizen, the sheriff shall conduct an Immigration Alien Query through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.5 Within 30 days after a conviction or final order in a case involving a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence all municipal, probate, district, and circuit courts, electronically or in a method determined by the Alabama Justice Information Commission, shall report to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency for entry into the state firearms prohibited person database.6 All municipal courts shall also report to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency in a method determined by the commission for inclusion into the state firearms prohibited person database all other criminal convictions and orders that would cause an individual to be prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law.7
* In 2021, Alabama enacted a law that requires the the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency, no later than October 1, 2022, to develop, create, maintain, and administer a state firearms prohibited person database. This database shall be linked to the state Law Enforcement Tactical System so that all “Firearms Prohibited Person” notices are viewable by law enforcement officers and other authorized persons through the Law Enforcement Tactical System. The database shall provide a method for municipal, probate, district, and circuit courts to report convictions and orders that affect an individual’s eligibility to possess a firearm under federal or state law. Upon request by a sheriff, the agency shall share any information from the database with the sheriff.
An applicant may apply for a permit that lasts from one to five years. A person who already holds a concealed carry permit may apply for a lifetime permit, but the sheriff may require that an applicant for a lifetime permit have held a permit for not more than five consecutive years prior to approving the application for a lifetime permit.8 At least once every five years from the date of issuance, the sheriff must conduct a background check on each individual with a lifetime carry permit in the same manner as required for an initial permit.9
An Alabama sheriff shall consider whether the applicant:
- Was found guilty but mentally ill in a criminal case.
- Was found not guilty in a criminal case by reason of insanity or mental disease or defect.
- Was declared incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case.
- Asserted a defense in a criminal case of not guilty by reason of insanity or mental disease or defect.
- Was found not guilty only by reason of lack of mental responsibility under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- Required involuntary inpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital or similar treatment facility.
- 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.
- Required involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital or similar treatment facility for any reason, including drug use.
- 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.
- Falsified any portion of the permit application.
- Caused justifiable concern for public safety.
The sheriff may also take into consideration how recently any of the events occurred. Within 30 days from receipt of a completed application, a sheriff shall approve or deny the application.10 If the sheriff chooses to deny the permit, he or she must immediately provide a detailed written statement to the applicant.11 The applicant may appeal the denial to the district court of the county where the denial was issued.12
A permittee who loses the physical permit or who has his or her physical permit stolen shall report that lost or stolen permit to the sheriff of the county of his or her residence within 30 days.13
At any point after an individual is issued a permit, and so long as the permit is valid, if law enforcement or a court becomes aware that the individual has become prohibited from possessing a pistol or firearm under state or federal law, or otherwise concludes that the individual should not possess a permit based on the factors used to determine the applicant’s initial eligibility, the agency, officer, or court shall immediately notify the sheriff of the county of residence of the individual and the sheriff much revoke the permit.14 If the revocation was due to the permittee being prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law, the sheriff shall send notice to the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency15. Upon revocation of a permit, the sheriff of the county of residence of the permittee or any other law enforcement officer with a reasonable opportunity shall make reasonable efforts to confiscate the permit card. 16
Firearm Safety Training
Alabama does not require the applicant to complete a firearm safety course or otherwise demonstrate knowledge of firearm safety prior to issuance of a license.17
Duration & Renewal
An applicant may request an Alabama license to carry a concealed handgun for a period of one to five years.18 The sheriff may also revoke a license for any reason that would have led to the denial of the permit application.19
Disclosure or Use of Information
Alabama prohibits the disclosure of the name, address, signature, photograph, and any other personally identifying information collected from an applicant for a concealed handgun license or of any concealed handgun licensee. Such information may only be used for law enforcement purposes except when a current licensee is charged in any state with a felony involving the use of a pistol. The sheriff of a county must redact the name, address, signature, and photograph of an applicant or licensee before releasing a copy of a license for a non-law enforcement purpose. Other information, including the annual number of applicants, number of licenses issued, number of licenses denied, revenue from issuance of licenses, and any other fiscal or statistical data remains public.20
Alabama generally recognizes reciprocal concealed weapons permits from other states. A license holder from another state must carry a handgun in compliance with the laws of Alabama.21
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- Ala. Code § 13A-11-85(a).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(a)(1)(a).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(b)(1).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(b)(2).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(b)(3).[↩]
- Added by Acts 2021, No. 21-246, § 4.[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(a)(3)(a), (b).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(h).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(c).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(d)(3)a).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(j)(1).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(g)(2).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(i).[↩]
- Id. at (2).[↩]
- Id. at (3).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(a).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(a)(2). Certain exceptions exist for the revocation of licenses for veterans. Ala. Code § 13A-11-75.1(c).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-75(e).[↩]
- Ala. Code § 13A-11-85.[↩]