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 11-51-02 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 11-51-03 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.