Legal Thursdays – Pistol Permits and Carry Laws

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It’s time for Lawyer Thursdays! Submit your legal questions to any time.  Please put “Lawyer Thursdays” in the subject line as I also receive many emails through my website at www.  You may also call Davidson Law Firm at 685-4822 or come by the office located in Old Towne Helena.  This week I will be addressing a very good question regarding the carrying of pistols in Alabama.

Question:  Can you please explain my rights regarding the carrying of a pistol in the State of Alabama?  Am I allowed to “open carry” a pistol in Alabama?

Answer:   I am a very strong advocate of our Constitutional rights including our rights to keep and bear arms under the 2nd Amendment.  However, there are restrictions to that right that are in the general interests of public safety and welfare.  I think most would agree that we don’t need just anyone strolling around the streets with submachine guns, juggling grenades or towing artillery pieces behind their SUV.  Alabama does have a concealed pistol law requiring you to obtain from the Sheriff’s Department an annual permit to carry a pistol concealed on your person or in your vehicle.  To obtain a permit you must fill out a form, have a valid reason to carry a concealed pistol (i.e. self defense) and pay the fee.  However, the right to carry a pistol/firearm even with a concealed pistol permit isn’t applicable to everyone who wants to pack heat.

Private citizens may not possess a pistol (or firearm) at all …

1.)  in, at or within 1,000 feet of a demonstration at a public place.

2.)  if you have been convicted of a violent crime.

3.)  if you are an addict or drunkard.

4.) on public school property with the intent to do harm.

The question of the legality of “open carry” or “open holster” is always the subject of debate and confusion even among law enforcement.  You may carry an unconcealed pistol on your person so long as you are,

1.) on your own property, or

2.) on public property, and

3.) on foot, and

4.) not intentionally or recklessly acting in a threatening manner.

You can legally take a stroll down the sidewalks of Helena like Wyatt Earp with your hand cannon strapped to your side.  You are far better off obtaining a concealed pistol permit and covering that hog leg with your jacket.  The second you step onto private property you are subject to arrest for carrying a pistol and your permit only applies to a concealed pistol.  In addition, the aggravation of dealing with the inevitable alarmed citizen will not be worth the convenience of carrying “open holster”.

Send your legal questions to Brian Davidson at