Gun Shows in Alabama

Alabama law provides:

“Persons dealing in pistols, revolvers, maxim silencers, bowie knives, dirk knives, brass knucks or knucks of like kind, whether principal stock in trade or not shall pay the following license tax: In cities and towns of 35,000 inhabitants and over, $150; and in all other places, $100. The required license amounts shall be paid for each place of business from which sales of such items are made. In addition to any other required licenses, a person may organize and conduct a gun and knife show of no more than seven days, by paying the maximum license tax prescribed in this section, as well as the maximum license taxes provided in Sections 40-12-158 and 40-12-174(d), for each such show. Participants shall not be required to pay the license taxes provided in this section, nor in Section 40-12-158 or 40-12-174 for participating in such shows, provided the organizer has paid the license taxes prescribed in this section prior to the commencement of the event. It shall be the duty of the organizer of such show to determine if each participant is licensed under the sales tax laws of this state as well as the particular county and municipality in which the show is conducted. The organizer shall be responsible for providing a list of participants to the county and municipality in which the gun show is held and for collecting and remitting all state and local sales taxes for any participant not licensed under state or local sales tax laws. In the event the organizer does not provide the information required herein or pay the license taxes prescribed in this section, prior to the commencement of the event, each participant shall be responsible for his or her applicable licenses. The organizer and all participants shall abide by applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.”1

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ala. Code § 40-12-143. ⤴︎

Guns in Schools in Alabama

Alabama law generally prohibits knowingly, with intent to do bodily harm, carrying or possessing a firearm on the premises of a public school, however, concealed handgun license holders are exempt from this prohibition.1 The term “public school” applies only to a school composed of grades K-12, but includes a school bus used for grades K-12.2

Alabama has no law restricting firearms on the campuses of colleges or universities.

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Ala. Code § 13A-11-72. The term “deadly weapon” includes any firearm. Ala. Code § 13A-11-72. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎

Guns in Vehicles in Alabama

Alabama prohibits the carrying of a handgun in any vehicle without a concealed handgun license, except on the possessor’s land or at his or her fixed place of business.1 This prohibition does not apply, however, to any person permitted by law to possess a handgun while carrying it unloaded and store in a locked compartment or container that is in or affixed securely to the vehicle. The handgun must also be out of reach of the driver and any passengers in the vehicle.2

A person without a handgun license who is not prohibited from possessing a handgun may also transport it unloaded in a secure wrapper, from the place of purchase to his or her home or place of business, or to or from a place of repair or in moving from one place of abode or business to another.3 The general prohibition on handguns in vehicles also does not apply to the transportation of handguns as curiosities or ornaments unloaded and in a bag, box or securely wrapped package, when not concealed on the person.4

A public or private employer may not prohibit the transportation or storage of a firearm in an employee’s privately owned motor vehicle while parked in a public or private parking area if the employee is a concealed handgun license holder.5 The firearm must be out of sight while the employee is attending the vehicle.6 If the employee is not attending the vehicle, the firearm must be kept out of sight and locked within a compartment, container, or in the interior of the vehicle, or in a compartment or container securely affixed to the vehicle.7

Notes
  1. Ala. Code § 13A-11-73. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Ala. Code § 13A-11-74. ⤴︎
  4. Ala. Code § 13A-11-83. ⤴︎
  5. Ala. Code § 13A-11-90(b). ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎

Immunity Statutes in Alabama

The Alabama Attorney General, by and with the consent of the Governor, has the exclusive authority to bring or settle any lawsuit resulting from or relating to the design, manufacture, marketing, or lawful sale of firearms or ammunition, or both, if the lawsuit is one:

  • In which the state has an exclusive interest or right to recover against any firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer; or
  • On behalf of any governmental unit created by or pursuant to an act of the Legislature or the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, or any department, agency, or authority thereof.1

A county or municipal corporation may, however, bring an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local governmental authority.

Alabama also immunizes sport shooting range owners and users from certain kinds of lawsuits. Alabama law states that any person, firm, or entity who operates or uses a sport shooting range shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution or lead or lead pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range.2 Furthermore, any person, firm, or entity that operates or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance and is not subject to injunction to stop the use or operation of the shooting range on the basis of noise or noise pollution or lead or lead pollution.3

See our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity for further information.

Notes
  1. Ala. Code § 11-80-11(c). ⤴︎
  2. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(2). ⤴︎
  3. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(3). For these immunity provisions to apply, the range must be operated between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., and either must have been in existence prior to 1990 or was in compliance with any noise or lead control laws or ordinances that applied to the sport shooting range and its operation on August 1, 2001, or at the time the sport shooting range came into existence, whichever event occurred first. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(2), (3). ⤴︎

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Alabama

Preemption Statute

In 2013, Alabama redrafted its firearms preemption laws to expressly preempt local regulation of firearms.

Section 13A-11-61.3 of the Code of Alabama provides as follows:

(a) The purpose of this section is to establish within the Legislature complete control over regulation and policy pertaining to firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories in order to ensure that such regulation and policy is applied uniformly throughout this state to each person subject to the state’s jurisdiction and to ensure protection of the right to keep and bear arms recognized by the Constitutions of the State of Alabama and the United States. This section is to be liberally construed to accomplish its purpose.
. . .
(c) Except as otherwise provided in [this Act] or as expressly authorized by a statute of this state, the Legislature hereby occupies and preempts the entire field of regulation in this state touching in any way upon firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance, or rule promulgated or enforced by any political subdivision of this state.
(d) The authority of a political subdivision to regulate firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories shall not be inferred from its proprietary authority, home rule status, or any other inherent or general power.

Exceptions

The Alabama legislature has carved out narrow exceptions to the state’s broad preemption statute.

Section 13A-11-61.3(g) provides for the following exceptions:

  • An employer can regulate or prohibit an employee’s carrying or possession of firearms during the course of the employee’s official duties.
  • A political subdivision can enact a generally applicable zoning or business ordinance that includes firearms businesses along with other businesses, provided that the ordinance does not restrict the otherwise lawful sale of firearms and firearm accessories.
  • A political subdivision can enact and enforce rules of operation and use for any firearm range owned or operated by the political subdivision.
  • A political subdivision can sponsor or conduct any firearm-related competition or educational or cultural program and can enact and enforce rules for participation in or attendance at such program, provided that the political subdivision cannot offer compensation for the surrender of firearms as a method of reducing the number of privately owned firearms.
  • Local ordinances that make the violation of a state firearm law a violation of an ordinance can be enacted and enforced, provided that the local ordinance may not differ from the state firearm law, nor may the local ordinance impose a higher penalty than what is imposed under state law.
  • Counties and municipalities can collect taxes from firearms, ammunition and accessories sales as long as the tax rate for firearms is not higher than the jurisdiction’s general sales tax rate.

In addition, section 11-51-102 permits cities and towns to close establishments that sell firearms or other deadly weapons, “when the public good or safety demands it,” until the next meeting of the relevant governing body.

Finally, section 11-51-103 gives cities and towns the authority to revoke a license issued to a location where firearms or other deadly weapons are kept for sale when “the public safety, peace, good order or decency may require it” and when the owner or operator of the location has been convicted of violating an ordinance regulating that business.

Interpretation

As of the date this page was last updated, Giffords Law Center is not aware of any significant case law interpreting this statute.

Immunity

For state laws prohibiting local units of government (i.e., cities and counties) from filing certain types of lawsuits against shooting ranges and the gun industry, see our page on Immunity Statutes in Alabama.

Locking Devices in Alabama

Alabama law does not require a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm, although federal law applies. Alabama also does not require firearm owners to lock their weapons.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Machine Guns & Automatic Firearms in Alabama

Alabama law does not restrict the possession or transfer of machine guns.

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.1 In December 2018, ATF finalized a rule to include bump stocks within the definition of a machine gun subject to this federal law, meaning that bump stocks will be generally banned as of March 26, 2019.2

See our Machine Guns policy summary for comprehensive discussion of this topic.

Notes
  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). ⤴︎
  2. Bump-Stock-Type Devices, 83 Fed. Reg. 66,514 (Dec. 26, 2018) (to be codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, 479). ⤴︎

Mental Health Reporting in Alabama

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

Alabama requires judges who enter final orders for involuntary commitment for inpatient treatment to the Department of Mental Health or a Veterans’ Administration hospital to forward such orders to the state’s Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC). Previously, this requirement applied only to commitment orders based on evidence that the person had a history of inappropriate use of firearms or posed a threat to use firearms inappropriately. However, in 2015, Alabama passed legislation to strengthen its reporting requirement so this law now applies to all final involuntary commitment orders.2 The same law also now requires judges to report records upon any finding that a defendant is insane, mentally incompetent, or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect under state law. ((See 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(a)(1).)) 

In both cases, the judge is required to immediately forward the order of the finding to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the order must then be entered in the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s information systems.3 The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency shall then, as soon as possible, enter the order in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and the information shall be entered into the NICS Index Denied Persons File.4 The records may only be used for purposes of determining eligibility to purchase or transfer a firearm and shall not include confidential medical or treatment records.5

Alabama law also states: “To the extent possible, all information from any state or local government agency that is necessary to complete a NICS check shall be provided to the Criminal Justice Information Center.” The law also requires the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center Commission to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement a complete NICS Check. The commission must also ensure that all information received is used solely for the purposes of compliance with NICS and every effort is made to protect the privacy of this information.6

Restoration of rights: Any person who has been adjudicated mentally deficient or committed to a mental institution and who is subject to the federal firearm disabilities of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (d)(4) and (g)(4) and the Alabama state law firearm disabilities of Sections 13A-11-72 and 13A-11-75, because he or she has been determined by law or legal process to be of unsound mind, may petition the district court for a civil review of his or her mental capacity to purchase a firearm.7

The district attorney or the Attorney General who prosecuted the underlying case, if applicable, and victim or victim representative, if applicable, shall be served a copy of the petition by certified mail.8 The petitioner may present evidence and witnesses at the hearing on the petition.9 The district court must make written findings of fact and conclusions of law on the issues before it and issue a final order.10

The district court must grant the relief requested in the petition if the judge finds, based on a preponderance of the evidence presented with respect to the petitioner’s reputation, the petitioner’s mental health record and, if applicable, certified criminal history record from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the circumstances surrounding the petitioner’s firearm disability, and any other evidence in the record, that the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to public safety and that granting the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.11

If the final order grants relief, a copy of the order shall be forwarded to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency directing that the prior order be removed from its information systems.12 The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency must then, as soon as possible, redact the prior order from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or request that the redaction be done and must notify the United States Attorney General that the basis for the record being made available no longer applies.13

The petitioner may appeal a final order denying relief within 42 days of the order to the circuit court for the county in which the commitment or adjudication was entered. The circuit court’s review shall be conducted de novo.14

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Alabama Background Checks section and the section entitled Alabama Prohibited Purchasers Generally.

 

Notes
  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). ⤴︎
  2. 2015 AL H.B. 47, amending Ala. Code § 22-52-10.8(a). ⤴︎
  3. Ala. Code § 22-52-10.8(a), 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(a)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Ala. Code § 22-52-10.8(a), 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(a)(2). ⤴︎
  5. Ala. Code § 22-52-10.8(a), 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(a)(3). ⤴︎
  6. Ala. Code § 41-9-649. ⤴︎
  7. Ala. Code § 22-52-10.8(b), 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(b)(1). ⤴︎
  8. 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(b). ⤴︎
  9. Ala. Code § 22-52-10.8(b), 2015 AL H.B. 47, Section 2(b). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. Id. ⤴︎
  14. Id. ⤴︎