Alabama allows concealed guns without permit or background check as new law takes effect

Alabama allows concealed guns without permit or background check as new law takes effect
Alabama is the latest state to allow people to carry a concealed handgun without getting a state permit that requires a background check (Getty Images)

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: Under Alabama's new law, beginning January 1, 2023, it will be possible to carry a concealed handgun without a state permit requiring a background check. Under the new law, gun owners will no longer have to obtain a permit to legally carry a concealed weapon in public. However, a person can still choose whether or not to obtain a permit. However, lawmakers suggest carrying a permit when traveling out of state, may require non-residents to show a permit for the guns.

Originally introduced unsuccessfully in Montgomery a decade ago, the proposal was adopted this year over opposition from the Alabama Sheriffs Association. Gun rights advocates call it "constitutional carry," alluding to the Second Amendment right to own guns. Opponents, which include sheriffs and state agencies, argue that the permit will fight crime and increase public safety.

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According to the US Concealed Carry Association, there are now 26 US states where concealed carry is allowed without a permit, Daily Mail reports. "It's going to be a big step to help the average law-abiding citizen to keep them from having to go through the hoops of getting a permit to carry their weapons," said Rep Shane Stringer, the bill's sponsor, according to the source. Stringer pointed out, however, that the law only affects the permit requirement. "It's not going change who can and cannot carry a gun. People that are prohibited now are still prohibited."

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"Alabama sheriffs are clear on the law taking effect January 1 and have adjusted accordingly," said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association adding, "maintaining an Alabama concealed carry permit is wise when traveling out of state; reciprocity applies - other states may require non-residents to have a permit from their state of residence." Moreover, Stringer asserted that the new bill does not change places where weapons are completely banned due to security reasons, such as courthouses, schools, and other government buildings. 

In addition, Republican lawmakers from Alabama who had previously opposed the legislation said they were more likely to vote for the bill this time after the state developed a 'prohibited persons' database to help officials warn people who are prohibited from owning a handgun because of their criminal history or other reasons. Stringer, a former sheriff's deputy and former head of the Satsuma Police Department, claimed the database was a major factor in his decision to sponsor the new bill, while opponents argued the database could have information gaps that will be unavoidable.

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Hal Taylor, the head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, sent Ivey a memo, "Whether issuing a routine traffic citation or investigating criminal activity, all officers using the Law Enforcement Tactical System now can receive instant notice of a person's ineligibility to possess a firearm," he wrote in the memo on September 30. This allows lawmakers to temporarily seize a handgun during a traffic stop or other investigation, including the time an officer suspects a person is about to commit a crime, and run the gun through the database to check if he or she has a criminal record or if it has been stolen. For safety reasons, officers can take the gun if it endangers themselves or others. However, the weapon must be returned unless an arrest is made or the person poses a threat.

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