New year brings official end to concealed carry permit requirement
With the new year, House Bill 272, which Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law March 10 this past year, became effective, thus bringing about a major change to state law concerning pistol permits.
The State of Alabama’s website, alabama.gov, explains the bill – sponsored by Rep. Shane Stringer – “revises certain restrictions regarding the carrying or possession of a pistol and eliminates the requirement to obtain a pistol permit in order to carry a concealed pistol.”
In a Jan. 5 Facebook post, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office reported receiving “numerous inquiries about how this new law will affect our citizens” and posted answers to address “a few common questions.”
As the FCSO explained, eligible Alabamians may now carry firearms without having to purchase a license from the state.
“Permitless carry,” also known as “constitutional carry” was among “the more contentious issues during the 2022 regular legislative session,” according to the FCSO post.
The new law “does not change who is allowed to possess and carry a weapon; it only removed the requirement to have a permit,” the FCSO explained. Any person 18 or older who has not been convicted of a violent crime, including misdemeanor domestic violence; has not been adjudicated mentally deficient; and does not 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,” the FCSO also noted. “Only if a person is ‘brandishing’ a firearm can they be arrested or charged with disorderly conduct. ‘Brandishing’ is defined as ‘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.’”
Federal law still prohibits carrying in several locations, such as military bases, federal courthouses, federal law enforcement offices and others – that hasn’t changed. Alabama law prohibits carrying a concealed weapon in police departments, sheriff’s offices, courthouses, courthouse annexes, prisons, jails, psychiatric facilities, drug treatment facilities and halfway houses.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver noted the state will still sell permits to those who want one, such as “for the ones that travel and might be going into other states that require them.” Funds from permit sales support equipment and training for the sheriff’s department.
“With the exception of Florida, every neighboring state with Alabama also has permitless carry laws,” explained the FCSO. “Some exceptions exist in each state, so you should always research a state’s gun laws before traveling there while armed.”
Alabama permits are recognized by Mississippi, Georgia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, North Carolina and Indiana. “If traveling to another state, one would have to obtain a permit recognized by that specific state. South Carolina is the only Southern state not to share reciprocity with Alabama,” the FCSO noted. “Citizens must have an Alabama pistol permit if required by that specific state. Always study state laws before traveling with a weapon.”
Gary Blackburn, leader for Franklin County BamaCarry, an Alabama gun rights group, said the new law “is a tremendous victory for the people of Alabama.”
“We still have work to do in reestablishing rights we have given up over the years, but this is a big step forward,” Blackburn said. “The most basic right we have as individuals is the right to live; therefore, we have the right to defend our life or others’ lives.”
Red Bay Police Chief Janna Jackson said the new law has good points and bad points.
“I think a person getting a permit to carry was good in that it required a background check and required gun carriers to go through a process to legally carry concealed,” Jackson said. She also said she thinks it “possibly deterred a few people involved in criminal activity somewhat by an awareness that if they were carrying a firearm concealed and were caught, they could be arrested.”
On the plus said, she said it seems the current law will help law enforcement with safety concerns, such as under what circumstances a person is allowed to touch their weapon. “On the other hand, there do not seem to be clear criminal charges for certain prohibited acts in this new law,” she added. “I hope lawmakers will revisit this in the near future.”
Jackson said from a law enforcement standpoint, “criminals are criminals, and most aren’t going to comply with permit laws regardless. Guns are so readily available now, anyone can easily obtain one.”
The FCSO urged people to note the new law allows a LEO to “relieve a person of their weapon if the officer has ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person has committed or is planning to commit a crime” or “if the person presents a threat to themselves, the officer or the public.”
Gun-carriers should also note that “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.”