With some exceptions, the open carry of firearms is lawful. It is unlawful to carry a concealed pistol, firearm, or airgun without a permit. It is unlawful for a person to carry a pistol concealed about his person on premises not his own or under his control. It is unlawful to carry a rifle or shotgun walking cane.
No person shall carry a pistol in any vehicle, or concealed on or about his person, except on his land, or in his own home or fixed place of business, without a permit. However, a person legally permitted to possess a pistol but who does not possess a valid concealed weapon permit, may possess an unloaded pistol in his or her motor vehicle if the pistol is locked in a compartment or container that is in or affixed securely to the vehicle and out of reach of the driver and any passenger in the vehicle.
Other exemptions from this prohibition on carrying are law enforcement officers; members of the armed forces or national guard, or to the members of the national guard organized reserves or state guard organizations when on duty or going to or from duty, if such members are at or are going to or from their places of assembly or target practices; any person engaged in manufacturing, repairing or dealing in pistols, or the agent or representative of such person possessing, using, or carrying a pistol in the usual or ordinary course of such business; common carriers (except taxis); and persons carrying unloaded handguns in a secure wrapper from a place of purchase to one's home or business, or to or from a place of repair, or in moving from one home or business to another.
On and after August 1, 2013, the sheriff of a county, within 30 days from receipt of a complete application of any person residing in that county, shall issue or renew a permit for a person to carry a handgun in a vehicle or concealed on or about one's person, for a period of one to five years, as requested by the applicant, if the applicant:
- is at least 18 years of age.
- has never been found guilty but mentally ill in a criminal case.
- has never been found guilty in a criminal case by reason of insanity or mental disease, or found not guilty only by reason of a lack of mental responsibility under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- has never been declared incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case.
- has never asserted a defense in a criminal case of not guilty by reason of insanity, or mental disease or defect.
- has never required involuntary inpatient treatment at a psychiatric hospital or a "similar treatment facility."
- has never required involuntary outpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital or a "similar treatment facility" because of a finding that the applicant was a danger to self or others.
- has never required involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital or a "similar treatment facility" for any reason, including drug use.
- has not been subject to a prosecution or an incompetency proceeding that could lead to a loss of firearm rights under state or federal law.
- has not falsified any portion of the application.
- has never caused "justifiable concern for public safety."
The fee for a permit varies depending on the county.
The sheriff shall issue or renew the permit unless he or she determines that the person is prohibited from the possession of a pistol or firearm pursuant to state or federal law, or has a reasonable suspicion that the person may use a weapon unlawfully or in such other manner that would endanger the person's self or others, based on the above factors. A sheriff shall take into account how recent any disqualifying factor is in relation to the date of application.
If the application is denied, the sheriff is required to provide the applicant with a written statement of the reasons for a denial, and the evidence upon which it is based must be disclosed to the applicant unless to do so would interfere with a criminal investigation. The sheriff may revoke a permit for any reason that could lead to the denial of a permit. The sheriff shall provide a written statement with the reasons for revoking a permit and the evidence upon which it is based must be disclosed to the permit-holder unless to do so would interfere with a criminal investigation.
Any applicant receiving a denial or revocation may file an appeal within 30 days of notification of the denial or revocation in the district court of the county where the denial or revocation occurred. A sheriff shall have the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the applicant is prohibited from having a permit.
A permit to conceal carry firearms does not authorize any person to carry a concealed firearm into, but not limited to, the following places:
- inside any police, sheriff or highway patrol buildings.
- prison, jail, halfway house, community corrections facility or other detention facilities.
- any facility that provides inpatient or custodial care for those with psychiatric, mental or emotional disorders.
- inside a courthouse, courthouse annex, or a building in which a District Attorney's office is located.
- a building in which a county commission or city council is holding a regular or special meeting.
- 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, and where the public entrances of such premises or buildings have been posted with notices alerting those entering that firearms are prohibited.
- any location prohibited by federal law.
The police, sheriff, or highway patrol station building; 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 meeting; and the posted secured location bans are subject to an exception in which a firearm may be kept in the person’s private vehicle if the firearm is kept from ordinary observation and locked within a compartment or in the interior of the person's motor vehicle or in a compartment or container securely affixed to the motor vehicle.
Locations where concealed carry is prohibited must post a notice at the public entrances alerting those entering that possession of firearms are prohibited.
Specified school security personnel and school resource officers employed by a local board of education, and authorized by the employing local board of education to carry a deadly weapon while on duty; law enforcement officers; and persons with pistol permits are exempt from a prohibition on carrying and possessing deadly weapons on the premises of a public school (“no person shall knowingly with intent to do bodily harm carry or possess a deadly weapon on the premises of a public school”). A "public school" means a school composed of grades K-12 and includes a school bus used for grades K-12.
Pistol permit records are confidential and are only to be used for law enforcement purposes. A permit issued shall be valid for the carrying of a pistol in a vehicle or concealed on the person throughout the state. If a permit-holder establishes residence in another state, the pistol permit expires upon the establishment of residence in the other state.
A person who is licensed to carry a handgun in any state shall be authorized to carry a handgun in Alabama. Such a person shall carry the handgun in compliance with the laws of Alabama. The Attorney General is authorized to enter into reciprocal agreements with other states for the mutual recognition of licenses to carry handguns and shall periodically publish a list of which recognize Alabama permits. HIDE