Buying Guns and Ammo in Alabama

In this piece, we cover the laws and regulations surrounding the buying, possessing, and carrying of firearms and ammunition in Alabama. When compared to most states, Alabama has some of the most firearms-friendly laws in the country.

The piece starts with the basics of what it takes to purchase ammo in Alabama and have it shipped to your home. From there, the piece covers the laws around buying firearms in the state, as well as the laws around carrying firearms in public.

While this piece should not be taken as legal advice, our hope is that it serves as an informational starting point for those who are interested in legally buying and carrying firearms and ammunition in Alabama.

Alabama has state preemption, which means that the gun laws that the state makes are the ones that apply in the state as a whole, and that counties, cities, or other political subunits of the state cannot make their own, more strict, firearms and ammunition laws. That means that once you have a good idea of the ammunition laws in Alabama, that one set of laws applies in the entire state with few, if any, exceptions. Preemption makes it easier for everyday citizens to learn the basics of firearms laws within a state so that they can do their best to remain in compliance with the law. It also means that this piece can provide a general overview of state law that applies in the vast majority of the state.

Alabama has few restrictions on the buying and carrying of firearms and ammunition. With that said, even the most permissive states are obligated to follow federal law, and thus many of the firearms-related rules in Alabama come from federal law.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Alabama

Next, we will cover the ammo laws of the state.

Alabama has among the most lax laws on ammunition in the country, insomuch that it does not have any bans on ammunition or requirements in addition to those imposed by the federal government. There are two sets of restrictions to keep in mind when buying ammunition in Alabama:

The first is age: the ATF requires that people buying rifle or shotgun ammunition are eighteen or older and that folks who buy handgun ammunition are twenty-one or over. Secondly, prohibited persons cannot buy ammunition: those are usually people who have been convicted of felonies or domestic violence, have been adjudicated as mentally unfit in a court of law, or have been involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility.

Beyond those requirements from federal law, shippers can and do impose their own requirements, such as asking for someone with a valid ID to be present to sign for the package containing ammunition. It is possible to have ammunition shipped to a residential address in Alabama.

Once the buyer possesses ammunition, Alabama does not impose restrictions on the sizes of magazines into which that ammunition can be placed. Because Alabama does not impose any restrictions beyond the Federal government’s, it has among the most permissive ammunition laws in the county.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in Alabama 

Next, we will do the same for gun laws.  As is the case with the ammunition laws in the state, Alabama’s stance on firearms laws is one of the most permissive in the nation. Within the state there are no additional waiting periods imposed on purchasing firearms, nor are there bans on the vast majority of categories of weapons.

There is, however, one extremely specific example: Alabama forbids people from owning rifles or shotguns that are disguised as canes, and can put people found with them in jail for two or more years. As niche as such firearms may be, it is a ban that makes the Alabama firearms laws slightly less permissive than they otherwise would be.

Aside from the cane gun prohibition, buying a firearm is straightforward. So long as the buyer meets the age requirements (18 on rifles and shotguns, 21 on handguns) and is not a prohibited person, the buyer can go home with firearms the same day, assuming that all of the information on Form 4473 does not present any issues. The state does not require that private sellers conduct background checks on purchasers. 

In terms of carrying firearms, Alabama is also permissive. Recently, the state adopted permitless carry, meaning that people can both openly and concealed carry firearms within the state without a permit. Like most states with permitless carry, Alabama continues to issue its concealed carry permits as well: this is done at the county level, which does mean that there is sometimes outdated information on county websites.

Alabama’s concealed carry permit has reasonably wide reciprocity with other states, which is likely the main reason someone would apply for said permit after the adoption of permitless carry by the state.

As with any state, there are a number of places that Alabama prohibits the carry of firearms, including:

  • Inside correctional facilities

  • Court buildings

  • Inside police stations 

  • School-related athletic events

  • Professional athletic events

These restrictions are not uncommon and are even more permissive than most states. There are some additional Federal restrictions that always apply, such as a general prohibition on carrying in federal facilities, which include military installations and post offices.

Overall, Alabama’s firearms laws are among the most permissive in the country in terms of buying, carrying, and keeping firearms and ammunition, with the small exception of the cane gun ban. Its list of places where carry is restricted is among the shortest in the nation, making Alabama an exceptionally gun-friendly state. Permitless carry makes the state exceptionally permissive, and the fact that counties still issue concealed carry permits further extends the rights of Alabamans: those permits make it possible for residents of Alabama to carry in many neighboring states.

Austrian firearms manufacturer Steyr has its American headquarters in the state, meaning that the firearms industry positively contributes to communities within the state. The permissive legal environment makes it easy for the people of Alabama to purchase and possess firearms, and those same principles make it easier to do business in the firearms industry in the state, as well.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Alabama

The overall sales tax in Alabama is 4%, but localities can and do impose their own taxes,sometimes making the effective sales tax rate as high as 11.5%. Because of this variance, picking an FFL that is in a lower-taxed area of the state might provide some fairly substantial savings on the purchase of a firearm. At the top end, Alabama has some of the highest sales tax rates to be found in the country.

The state does not, however, impose additional state-level taxes on the purchase of firearms and ammunition. This, too, makes Alabama gun-friendly, though not quite as friendly to gun owners as states that either do not have sales tax at all, or provide tax breaks on firearms safety equipment such as safes, which several other Southern states have done in the past. 

More Resources:

Alabama Gun Forum is an active community that has a wealth of local information, as well as an active classifieds section for those who are interested in purchasing firearms from private parties.

Alabama Gun Law FAQ:

The state does not prohibit ammunition from being shipped to residential addresses. The buyer has to be 18 for rifle and handgun ammo, and 21 for pistol ammo. Also, carriers sometimes ask for someone with a valid ID to be available to sign for the package containing ammo.

Alabama does not require private parties to run background checks on potential firearms buyers. With that said, federal law does still apply, and the seller should be reasonably sure that the buyer is not a prohibited person.

Alabama does not have a traditional assault weapons ban that, for example, might ban an AR-15. The state does, however, have a ban on rifles and shotguns that are disguised as canes.

Because Alabama has very few restrictions on the buying and carrying of firearms, it can be considered to be one of the most gun-friendly states in the USA.

Alabama residents do not need a concealed carry permit. However, the state does issue permits to carry a concealed pistol, and that permit not only allows the holder to carry in Alabama but many other states as well (with local exceptions in mind).