CONTRIBUTED BY CRAIG MONGER / 1819 NEWS
With the start of the new year, eligible Alabamians are now allowed to carry firearms without having to purchase a license from the state.
Permitless carry, also called constitutional carry, was among the more contentious issues during the 2022 regular legislative session.
House Bill 272 (HB272) by state Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle) became the spearhead bill that passed the Legislature. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey in March but was not considered law until Jan. 1, 2023.
The bill did away with certain laws, most notably those requiring people to buy a permit to carry a weapon concealed in their vehicle or on their person. It also changed the definition of a shotgun to comply with technological advancements in shotgun design.
WHO CAN CARRY
The new law does not change who is allowed to possess and carry a weapon; it only removed the requirement to have a permit. Any person over 18 who has not been convicted of a violent crime — including misdemeanor domestic violence — has not been adjudicated mentally deficient and does not currently have a protective order against them may carry a concealed weapon in Alabama.
The new law also changed language in Alabama’s existing code, which clarifies that the mere possession or carrying of a firearm in a public place cannot be construed as a crime.
Only if a person is “brandishing” a firearm can they be arrested or charged with disorderly conduct.
Brandishing is defined as the “waving, flourishing, displaying or holding of an item in a manner that is threatening or would appear threatening to a reasonable person, with or without explicit verbal threat, or in a wanton or reckless manner.”
WHERE YOU CAN CARRY
Federal law prohibits carrying on several locations, such as military bases, federal courthouses, federal law enforcement offices and others; those remain restricted whether or not you have a permit.
In Alabama, a person may not carry a concealed weapon in police departments, sheriff’s offices, courthouses, courthouse annexes, prisons, jails, psychiatric facilities, drug treatment facilities and halfway houses.
You are still required to have a permit if you intend to carry a weapon within a public K-12 school or University, even if you are merely attending an athletic event.
The new law did away with one provision that forbade carrying in a temporary courthouse annex. New code dictates a building can only be considered a proper annex while court proceedings are taking place.
A person without a permit may not carry a concealed weapon on private property without the owner’s express permission. However, this falls under trespassing law, meaning you could only be charged with trespassing for refusing to leave a business or property after being asked by the owner.
The new law has not done away with permits. Any applicable person can still obtain a concealed weapons permit from their local sheriff’s office. In fact, for those who regularly travel, it may be more advantageous to maintain a permit to avoid legal issues when traveling to other states.
With the exception of Florida, every neighboring state with Alabama also has permitless carry laws. Some exceptions exist in each state, so you should always research a state’s gun laws before traveling there while armed.
Most states that do not have permitless carry laws recognize Alabama permits as valid, known as reciprocity. South Carolina is the only southern state not to share reciprocity with Alabama. Always study state laws before traveling with a weapon.
Under the new law, a law enforcement officer may relieve a person of their weapon if the officer has “reasonable suspicion” that the person has committed or is planning to commit a crime. The officer may also relieve a person of their weapon if the person presents a threat to themselves, the officer or the public.
Under the previous rules, citizens were not compelled to inform police if they had a weapon in their vehicle or on their person. However, the new law does require the disclosure of that information if asked by an officer.
A person is also prohibited from touching their weapon during the course of a police interaction unless otherwise directed by police.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.