Alabama’s hate and gun laws have significant gaps that allow people to keep and access firearms, including assault weapons, after they have been convicted of violent hate crimes.
Access to Guns for People Convicted of Hate Crimes in Alabama
|Violence with Severe Bodily Injury||Violence with Bodily Injury||Other Crimes Involving Intentional Use of Force||Threats with Deadly Weapons|
Other Credible Threats to Physical Safety
|Federal Law||Very limited or no access||Some access||Significant access||Some access|
|State Law||Very limited or no access||Some access||Significant access||Some access|
Alabama law makes hate motivation a factor in criminal sentencing if it is proven that a person perpetrated a crime motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability.1 (Sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity are not included as protected categories). This law imposes minimum sentences for hate crimes, including a three-month minimum for hate crime misdemeanors.2 However, Alabama law does not restrict people from accessing firearms on this basis, and does not make hate crime misdemeanors punishable by a term long enough to trigger federal firearm restrictions.
Alabama generally prohibits people from accessing firearms if they have been convicted of specified violent crimes, including violent felonies resulting in serious bodily injury or involving injury with a deadly weapon.3 Federal law generally prohibits people from accessing guns if they have been convicted of a felony punishable by over one year in prison, or a state law misdemeanor punishable by more than two years.4
People convicted of violent hate crime felonies in Alabama are therefore subject to both state and federal firearm restrictions, while people convicted of felonies that are not defined as violent crimes under Alabama law are subject to federal firearm restrictions only.
People convicted of violent hate crime misdemeanors generally remain eligible to access firearms under both state and federal law, including crimes involving intentional infliction of bodily injury, threats with a deadly weapon, and other credible threats of violence.5
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- Ala. Code § 13A-5-13.
- Hate crime misdemeanors are also classified as Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year imprisonment. Ala. Code §§ 13A-5-13(c)(2); 13A-5-7(a)(1).
- Ala. Code §§ 13A-11-72, 13A-11-70(4), 12-25-32(15).
- 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1); 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20)(B).
- See Ala. Code §§ 13A-6-22 (misdemeanor “Assault in the third degree”); 13A-6-23 (misdemeanor “Menacing”); 13A-11-8(a) (misdemeanor violent “Harassment”). These crimes are not firearm-prohibiting under Alabama law because they are not considered “crimes of violence” or “violent offenses” under Alabama law even though they involve actual physical injury or credible threats to victims’ physical safety. These crimes are generally not firearm-prohibiting under federal law either because they are classified as misdemeanors punishable by less than two years in prison even under Alabama’s hate crime sentencing statute. Ala. Code § 13A-5-7.