This week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) published an open letter to Alabama Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) notifying them that, effective immediately, they may accept a valid Alabama concealed carry permit issued on or after August 1, 2013 in lieu of conducting a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This major regulatory change is the direct result of Attorney General Luther Strange’s tireless efforts on behalf of law-abiding permit holders in Alabama. Attorney General Strange initiated the lengthy process of formally requesting NICS exemption (sometimes referred to as “NICS alternative”) status in a letter dated September 28, 2015.
In the letter, Attorney General Strange provided detailed documentation that Alabama’s concealed carry permitting process satisfied the statutory and regulatory compliance requirements for NICS exemption. Upon review, ATF agreed with the Attorney General’s position, and, as a result, Alabama became the 24th state to receive NICS exemption status.
NICS exemption status ensures that law-abiding permit holders who have been fully vetted and undergone a NICS check, may purchase or receive a firearm from a gun dealer without the delays sometimes associated with a NICS check. The permit itself acts as verification that the holder has undergone a background check and is neither prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm.