In 2013, Alabama redrafted its firearms preemption laws to broadly preempt local regulation of firearms. Section 13A-11-61.3 states:
(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 [Section 11-80-11, discussed below] 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.
The legislature has carved out narrow exceptions to the broad preemption statute. Section 13A-11-61.3 states that it should not be construed to prevent:
- An employer from regulating or prohibiting an employee’s carrying or possession of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition during and in the course of the employee’s official duties;
- The enactment or enforcement of a generally applicable zoning or business ordinance that includes firearms businesses along with other businesses, provided that an ordinance designed or enforced effectively to restrict or prohibit the sale, purchase, transfer, manufacture, or display of firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories that is otherwise lawful under the laws of this state is in conflict with this section and is void;
- A political subdivision from enacting and enforcing rules of operation and use for any firearm range owned or operated by the political subdivision.
- A political subdivision from sponsoring or conducting any firearm-related competition or educational or cultural program and from enacting and enforcing rules for participation in or attendance at such program, provided that nothing in this section authorizes or permits a political subdivision to offer remuneration for the surrender or transfer of a privately owned firearm to the political subdivision or another party as a method of reducing the number of privately owned firearms within the political subdivision.
- The adoption or enforcement by a county or municipality of ordinances which make the violation of a state firearm law a violation of an ordinance, provided that the elements of 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 the state firearm law.
- A county or a municipality from exercising any authority it has to assess, enforce, and collect generally applicable sales taxes, use taxes, and gross receipts taxes in the nature of sales taxes as defined by Section 40-2A-3(8), Code of Alabama 1975, on the retail sale of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories along with other goods, provided that no such tax imposed by a county or municipality may apply at a higher rate to firearms, ammunition, or firearm accessories than the general sales tax rate of the jurisdiction.
Section 6-5-341, pertaining to the regulation of sport shooting ranges, states that rules or regulations adopted by any governmental body (including any county or municipal governing body per § 6-5-341(a)(1)) limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level or limiting levels of lead occurring in the atmosphere shall not apply to a sport shooting range exempted from liability under section 6-5-341.1 For further information, please see the Alabama Immunity Statutes section.
Finally, city and town councils have the power to revoke any license issued to a location where firearms 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 any violation of city or town ordinances regulating such a business.2 A city or town has the power to authorize the mayor or other chief executive officer by proclamation to cause any or all houses or places of amusement or houses or places for the sale of firearms to be closed for a period not longer than the next meeting of the city or town council or other governing body.3