See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
Alabama is not a point of contact state for the NICS. Alabama law simply reiterates the federal requirement that firearms dealers must initiate background checks through NICS prior to transferring firearms.1 As a result, in Alabama, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2 Alabama law also independently requires licensed handgun dealers to view a purchaser’s identification before transferring a handgun.3 To the extent possible, all information from any state or local government agency that is necessary to complete a NICS check must be provided to the Criminal Justice Information Center.4
Alabama does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. See the Alabama Private Sales section.