The state of Alabama is a "shall-issue" state in regard to concealed weapon permits. Permits can last up to five years and state residents can apply for those that last a lifetime. The permit application process occurs at the county sheriff's office of the person applying.
Concealed carry permits issued in Alabama are only for residents of the state – non-residents with firearm permits can carry , but they must comply with state law when doing so. A person applying for a concealed carry permit must meet several requirements, among them being at least 18 years old and residing in the county where they apply for the permit.
A "Shall Issue" Jurisdiction
Alabama is a "shall-issue" state. When a person applying for a concealed weapon permit passes all the basic legal requirements, the state believes they have shown a compelling reason for the authorities to issue them a permit to carry a concealed weapon. "Shall issue" means that the applicant cannot be denied a permit so long as they meet their state's criteria.
Concealed carry applicants in Alabama may apply for a permit lasting from one to five years. Once they have a permit, they may apply for one that lasts a lifetime. However, a sheriff may require that they hold a permit for no longer than five consecutive years before approving their application.
Alabama Concealed Carry vs. Open Carry
Concealed carry allows a gun owner to carry a gun without it being visible to the public. Concealed carry is legal in every state in the U.S., although some states require a permit for it and some do not. Open carry allows gun owners to carry an accessible firearm in public.
A gun owner can practice open carry in 42 states, however, California, Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C. generally prohibit gun owners to practice open carry in public. South Carolina and New York prohibit open carry with handguns, but not long guns, but Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey prohibit the open carry of long guns, but not handguns.
Nine states require open and concealed carry permits. Five states and the District of Columbia require concealed carry permits. Fifteen states require permits for concealed carry, but no permit for open carry. Alabama is one such state.
Where a Gun Owner Can Carry
Alabama law requires gun owners to have a permit for concealed carry permit in most places, but the state does not require it in that person's home, on their land or in their fixed business location. A gun owner can keep an unloaded, or locked and out-of-reach pistol in their vehicle without a concealed carry permit. These requirements do have exemptions – they don't apply to law enforcement officers on duty, military personnel, or other authorized individuals.
Unless they have the authorization to do so, gun owners in Alabama cannot carry firearms in these places:
- Highway patrol, police or sheriff stations.
- Criminal justice buildings, courthouses or any structure where county commission or city council meetings occur.
- Jails, prisons and other detention facilities.
- Mental health facilities.
- Public demonstrations.
- Professional athletic or school-sponsored events not related to firearms, unless they have a concealed carry permit or permission to do so.
- Wildlife management areas, unless they have a valid permit for a specific location.
Alabama Gun Laws and Permit Requirements
To apply for a permit, an Alabama resident must meet certain requirements. They must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Reside in the county where they apply for the permit; be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces posted to the state; or be a military member's spouse.
- Not be a convicted sexual offender.
- Not show mental impairment in such a way that they would be judged not guilty in a criminal case.
- Not be in a mental institution or a health care center for any reason, including the use of narcotics.
- Not face conviction or be guilty of a crime that would lead the state to prohibit them from possessing a firearm in their jurisdiction.
- Not be a public safety threat.
- Be a legal citizen.
- Meet all federal requirements for firearm possession.
Alabama charges $20 per year for new or renewed concealed carry permits. It issues a five-year permit for $100. Military retirees and veterans do not have to pay the permit fee.
Who Cannot Own a Firearm in Alabama
Not everyone can legally own a firearm in Alabama. Certain circumstances make it illegal, such as if the applicant:
- Has an order of protection against them for domestic abuse.
- Has a violent crime conviction, including domestic violence.
- Is of "unsound mind," and deemed by authority to be dangerous due to mental illness, mental incompetency or insanity.
- Is a minor.
- Is addicted to alcohol or drugs.
- Intends to harm another person on public school property.
Gun violations in the state are usually Class A misdemeanors, which carry penalties of up to a year in jail and a maximum $6,000 fine. However, falsifying information to obtain or register a pistol intending to harm someone at a school is a violent crime conviction. Possessing an altered gun or prohibited ammunition are Class C felonies. These carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Applying for a Concealed Carry Permit
A person who wants to apply for a concealed carry permit in Alabama can get the application from their county sheriff's office. How an applicant obtains the application depends on the county; they can download it and complete it accordingly if their county allows it. After submitting the form, the applicant will receive notice of either approval or denial in the mail.
When it's time to renew the license, the Alabama permit holder physically returns the old one to the sheriff's office; however, they can also do it online, if their county allows it. It takes about thirty days to get a new permit or renew a state permit.
Alabama and Gun Permit Reciprocity
Per the Attorney General, the state has reciprocal agreements with other states and periodically publishes a list of those that recognize Alabama licenses according to Section 13A-11-85. A person with a firearm license from any other state can carry in Alabama; however, they must comply with Alabama state law.
Conversely, an Alabama gun owner can use their concealed carry permits in Indiana, Montana, and North Dakota. They can also use it in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Puerto Rico; however, they must be at least 21 to do so, with the exception of Indiana, Montana, and North Dakota.
- NOLO: Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in Alabama
- Find Law: Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code Section 13A-11-74
- Gunlaws: Alabama Gun Permit: Laws, Cost, Restrictions, & FAQs
- Justia: 2012 Code of Alabama Title 13A - CRIMINAL CODE. Chapter 11 - OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER AND SAFETY. Section 13A-11-85 - Reciprocity for licenses issued in other states.
- World Population Review: Concealed Carry States 2021
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.