See our Disarming Prohibited People policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Under a law adopted in 2009, Alabama generally authorizes a law enforcement officer to disarm an individual if the officer reasonably believes that it is immediately necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual.1 The officer must return the firearm to the individual before discharging that individual unless the officer arrests that individual for engaging in criminal activity or seizes the firearm as evidence pursuant to an investigation for the commission of a crime or, at the discretion of the officer, the individual poses a threat to himself or herself or to others.2
Another Alabama statute states that “[i]t shall be the duty of any sheriff, policeman, or other peace officer of the State of Alabama, arresting any person charged with violating Sections 13A-11-71 through 13A-11-73 [regarding lawful possession of firearms and prohibited persons], or any one or more of those sections, to seize the [handguns] in the possession or under the control of the person or persons charged with violating the section or sections [above.]”3 The arresting officer must then deliver the handguns to one of the following named persons: if a municipal officer makes the arrest, to the city clerk or custodian of stolen property of the municipality employing the arresting officer; if a county, state, or other peace officer makes the arrest, to the sheriff of the county in which the arrest is made.4 The person receiving the handguns from the arresting officer must keep them in a safe place in as good condition as received until disposed of.5 Within five days after the final conviction of any person arrested for violating any of the sections above, the person receiving possession of the seized handguns must report the seizure and detention of said handguns to the district attorney within the county where the handguns are seized, giving a full description thereof, the number, make and model thereof, the name of the person in whose possession they were found when seized, the person making claim to same or any interest therein, if the name can be ascertained or is known, and the date of the seizure.6
Upon receipt of the report from the person receiving possession of the seized handguns, it shall be the duty of the district attorney within the county where the handguns were seized to “forthwith” file a complaint in the circuit court of the proper county, praying that the seized handguns be declared contraband, be forfeited to the state and be destroyed.7 Any person, firm or corporation or association of persons in whose possession said handguns may be seized or who claim to own or have any interest in the seized handguns shall be made a party defendant to the complaint, and the matter shall proceed and be determined in the circuit court of the proper county.8 When any judgment of condemnation and forfeiture is made in any case filed under this section the judge making the judgment shall direct the destruction of the handguns by the person receiving possession of them from the arresting officer in the presence of the clerk or register of the court, unless the judge is of the opinion that nondestruction of the handguns is necessary or proper in the ends of justice, in which event and upon recommendation of the district attorney, the judge shall award the handguns to the sheriff of the county or to the chief of police of the municipality to be used exclusively by the sheriff or the chief of police in the enforcement of law.9 In such a case, the sheriff of the county and the chiefs of police of the municipalities must keep a permanent record of all handguns awarded to them.10 The court may also direct in the judgment that the costs of the proceedings be paid by the person in whose possession the seized handguns were found, or by any party or parties who claim to own said handguns, or any interest therein, and who contested the condemnation and forfeiture thereof.11