The third amendment to the Alabama State Constitution, passed in 2014, states that the Constitution “provide[s] that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.” In theory, this amendment provides every Alabama citizen the right to open carry of a firearm, even if the person carrying the firearm does not have a permit. There are restrictions, however, as certain individuals may not carry a gun and certain circumstances prohibit individuals from carrying guns.
Individuals Banned from Carrying Guns
The Alabama Code provides that the following may not carry a gun:
- People who were convicted of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime;
- Drug addicts or “habitual drunkards;” or
- Anyone who intends to do bodily harm on the premises of a public school.
Note that school security personnel are exempt from this ban if acting to protect while on school premises.
Circumstances in Which Individuals May Not Carry Guna
Individuals may not carry weapons on another person’s property. This is not applicable to police officers who chase a suspect onto another’s property and to rural mail carriers, bond constables, railway clerks, and express messengers.
There are limitations to carrying a firearm during a demonstration. Individuals participating in a demonstration may not carry firearms, and individuals within one thousand feet of a demonstration may not carry firearms, provided that law enforcement informed the individual that a demonstration is within one thousand feet. If, however, the demonstration is occurring near the individual’s home, the individual may carry a weapon inside his or her home.
Individuals may not carry weapons into public gatherings including sporting events, political events, and parades.
Individuals may not carry weapons into a courthouse, airport, or the like.
Rifles and walking cane guns are not included in the third amendment and require a special permit to carry.
Individuals may not carry firearms into certain protected wildlife areas.
There is a firm ban on steel- and Teflon-coated ammunition, which can penetrate bullet-proof vests.
Punishment for Violators
Violators of Alabama gun laws face stiff penalties. Most violations have a one-year prison sentence and a $500 fine. Some violations have a 10-year prison sentence. An example of a violation with a stiff penalty is possessing a deadly weapon with intent to do serious harm on public school grounds.
Stand Your Ground Law and Illegal Gun Possession
The Alabama Stand your Ground Law, which provides that a person has no duty to retreat when threatened on his or her own property, contains a clause about legal gun ownership. If someone legally has a gun and feels threatened on his or her own property, such a person may use that gun to ward off the threat, even if use of that gun leads to serious bodily injury or death. However, the statute is explicit that it is applicable only if the firearm is legally possessed.
If you are facing gun charges in Alabama, contact the law firm of Parkman White, experienced criminal defense lawyers.