Freaking out about 'bama laws!


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I've just discovered that I am moving to Perry County, Alabama in a couple of months, from Indiana. I have been reading about Alabama firearm and knife laws and I am totally freaked out.

Here in Indiana, I have a lifetime carry permit for handguns, open or concealed, and there are no laws about knives of any kind except switchblades.

In Alabama, it appears, I have to go to the county sheriff EVERY YEAR and beg for a permit. Also, it seems to be completely up to the sheriff whether to issue it or not. And, apparently, I have to have a "need" in order to be issued a permit.

In addition, it seems that any sort of fixed-blade knife is illegal, as the law says that even kitchen knives qualify under the "Bowie Knife" provision of illegality! I've even found that lock-blade folders may be questionable!

So, what's going to happen when I tell my local sheriff that my "need" for a permit is called the Second Amendment to the constitution?

And, how am I going to butcher my first wild hog in the field? With a broken bottle?

I just don't understand how a state that seems filled with such wonderful people, not to mention vast tracts of hunting and fishing lands, can have laws that sound about as ridiculous as the ones in California.

Am I reading the law wrong? Is there something I am missing? Maybe even more interesting, what does the sheriff's office get done, other than process firearm permits?

I am a total newb here, but I would REALLY appreciate ANYBODY who might be able to offer me a little anti-freak medicine, if any exists.



Alabama Laws

Archangel: The laws in Alabama are not as messed up as you think. First, when you go to the sheriff's office to obtain your permit all you have to tell them is for personal defense. No long dissertation on gun rights, etc. I have never had any problem getting my permit. I pay my $20.00 and am gone in about 5 minutes. Coming here from out-of-state, you will probably have to fill out a form which the sheriff will run through NCIC and the local police department. Having your Indiana license already will greatly ease the process for you. As for knives, the LEOs will probably get upset seeing you carry a long Bowie knife but no problem carrying a large folding knife on your belt. Quite a number of people carry them down here with no problems. All that being said, carrying is somewhat iffy if you want to open carry. It is completely legal to open carry but some of the LEOs down here get rather upset when they see it. The Montgomery PD had a run-in with a fellow open carrying and, after the smoke cleared, the fellow was given an apology and the MPD given instructions about open carry being legal. If you carry your weapon in your car, it is considered concealed and requires a permit. You can open carry without a permit. Seems a little mixed up but, what the heck. All in all, you won't find Alabama laws to be all that daunting and you won't have trouble finding buddies to shoot with so come on down. Glad to have you.:biggrin:
I'm the next best thing to a native Alabamian. My dad was from here and I was born on an Army base in LA while he was serving. He came home before I was a year old.

Do NOT freak out over Alabama's concealed carry laws. Yes, it is left up to the local sheriff to set the specific requirements and Yes, you have to renew every year. That is the law and it is still 'may issue'.

In practice, however, it is normally treated as 'shall issue'. In other words, unless they have a reason to not issue, you get your permit. In most counties, you fill out your paperwork (an application, more or less, it gives them enough information to run a background check on you- no finger prints, proof of taking a class,...), pay around $20 (some a little more, some a little less but still not in the $100's some states charge) and wait about a week. Then you go back to the Sheriff's Dept., pick up your permit and go about your merry way for a year. The next year, you drop by, pay your $20 and get it renewed while you wait. I was in and out a couple weeks ago in Lee county in all of 10 minutes (there was a small line).
All you have to tell them is you want to carry for your protection, and as far as the knife thing I have carried a Cold Steel Voyager and now carry a Cold Steel AK-47 with no problems.
Don't Freak

Don't freak too much about the Bama laws. It is true we can not open carry.We can get our CCW permits at the Sherrif's office the first time by just telling them it is for personal protection and give them the other info they ask for and they run a computer check that just takes a minute, very easy to get and give them the $20.00 at least in my county. After that all you have to do each year is either go down and show your CCW and give them the $20.00 and your renewed! If you can't make it down to the office just mail them the $20.00 with your info and they will renew your CCW and mail the new one to you.

I don't know what your worried about on the knife deal, I've never heard of such. We have a lot of hunting here and if there is a law against bowie's they must not enforce it cause every hunter I know has one on his side while out hunting! I have all kinds of knives, hell I even have a few swords. pocket knives,locking knives,bowies,tactical,survival, assisted opening knives, ...except swichblades which have been illegal for a lond time, but If you are a fireman or a policeman you can have those too. So if I were you I'd lighten up and not worry so much cause all is well in the great State of Alabama!
Alabama Laws really all bark and no bite

archangel;Alabama is nominally a "may-issue" state, but I have had carry permits in at least three counties over the years and the "reason" has to be no more than "self defense". No "begging"; a valid driver's license suffices. Neither I nor anyone I've heard of or can dig up has ever been denied in any county; if you can pass an NCIC background check, you're good to go.

Regarding "hogmanjem's" comment about open carry; there's a several-year-old attorney general's opinion stating that open carry is allowed unless you're asked to leave while carrying, then it's the same old trespassing thing.

As to the knife laws, I regularly carry a 4" folding lockback in a sheath and a 4-1/2" fixed-blade sheath knife at times. If you go into a courthouse, police facility or other place with metal detectors and an alert monitor, you may have to relinquish it during your visit, but it's returned promptly with no hassle when you leave.

If you can't butcher a hog with a good 4-1/2" fixed-blade, a hacksaw and a belt hatchet (also allowed), you'd better just buy your pork at the butcher.

I currently live out in the country in Chilton County, abutting Perry, with Bibb to your North, and we're all just country folks around here. There are some "bad" folks (or at least with questionabale morals), but they don't bother us. You will hear of some incident from time to time so a carry permit is a good idea, as always. I carry regularly in my Suburban and when out and about and have never been hassled about it.

Glad to have you "yankees" come down (I was born in Illinois myself and don't even pass through the state any more, if I can help it---bad gun laws!)
So don't worry, be happy and apply as soon as you get your 'Bama license.
Sam (El Zorro)
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Thank you SO much for taking the time to send this information, and for your kind invitation to "come on down". I am just about to do that! I have already spoken with several Alabama natives [about business and the process of moving] and have not heard one word that was anything but kind and welcoming. I grew up in Harlan County, KY, and am greatly looking forward to coming back to the South. These northerners try a man's patience, as they know almost nothing about being a gentleman, keeping their word, or clamping their ever- flapping jaws shut unless they have something to say. With your kindness in answering my post, I feel a little better about the laws. But I still have to say that I just don't understand it! I am moving within a few miles of the Talladega National Forest, and so far I still don't know whether I can walk in there [or anywhere else] and feel like the LEO's will treat me kindly, even though I've never even had a traffic ticket. Anyone who says "people are the same all over" has not done much traveling, and I sure do want things to be easy and friendly down there. I will take your advice and expect the best, though I have to say in my gut I am still prepared for the worst. At least now I know that the process was simple for someone in 'Bama, and that is hopeful. Thank you again for taking the time to write. Kind of you, and very much appreciated. - S
Thank you very much for the reply. I really appreciate your time and helpful advice. Still, people keep saying "the law in 'Bama is not really the law", which actually means "the LEO's can do anything they darn well please"! I guess I just have to hope for good LEO's where I am going. In Indiana, a LEO is allowed to request your permit, but other than that, they are not allowed to give you ANY hassle about nearly ANYTHING you carry. It is going to be a terrible change for me.

But then, as I always say about change: If you are getting older, having another birthday is better than the alternative!

Thanks again for your time and helpfulness. It is greatly appreciated. -S
Thank so much for your reply.

So, you've told me about the knives you carry [I'm a Cold Steel fan myself], but you didn't mention whether you carry them openly or concealed, or whether you have ever had a LEO stop you, or talk to you about them. If so, I would love to hear about it.

Thanks again. I appreciate the time you took to answer my question.

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. Most people are telling me about the same thing, although some say I have to prove that I've taken and passed a CCW "course", whatever that is, before going to the sheriff. I am concerned about that whole deal.

When it comes to knives, I assure you that if you check the Alabama State Code, you will find that it is ABSOLUTELY illegal to carry any knife that is, or "resembles" a Bowie knife, and that the code considers even kitchen butcher knives to fall into that category. I can guarantee you that a LEO can arrest you right now for carrying any knife that could be interpreted as having a "Bowie style", and that, of course, includes every knife there is, since a mostly non-hunting jury will not know the difference between a "Bowie" knife and a sharpening steel, when the prosecutor holds it up and tells them they are the same thing!

Once again, everyone keeps saying "don't worry about it - the law is not really the law". I just can't help wondering what that kid who just graduated from the academy will do when he sees my Trailmaster strapped on my belt! "Bingo - I got my first weapons offender"!!

Thank you again for the kindness of taking the time to write. You are good folks down there, and it gives me hope.

Much appreciation.

Thank you so much for writing.

After the people, like yourself, who have been kind enough to reply, I have an entire "mass effect" that says "the law is not the law". If you read your "Bama State Code", you will find it FILLED with things about guns, knives, and carry that can get you wrapped up right quick. Look up the "Bowie Knife" provision, and you will see what I mean.

But it seems like everyone is just going on about business and ignoring it. Do you [or anyone else] know how successful the movement to make 'Bama a "Shall Issue" state is, at the present? I would love to know if there is pending legislation.

By the way, you had no way of knowing, but I grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky, and the only people we were allowed to curse were Yankees and Mr. Peabody. Like I said, you couldn't have known, but I feel the same way about Yankees as I do about the intrusion into our second amendment rights. And living with them has been like living with a bunch of heathen Talibanis. Most of these folks don't know honor or honesty from an egg sandwich, and I will be mightily glad to be shut of them!

Thank you again, so much, for taking the time to write. It was a big help, and I am feeling better about the whole thing, if still pretty confused.

All the best,

For those who have been kind enough to write to me about knives in particular, I thought I would post this. Maybe it will help keep someone out of trouble.

Please let me know what you think.

Alabama Code - Section 13A-11-50 — Carrying concealed weapons.
Except as otherwise provided in this Code, a person who carries concealed about his person a bowie knife or knife or instrument of like kind or description or a pistol or firearm of any other kind or an air gun shall, on conviction, be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than six months.
(Code 1852, §15; Code 1867, §3555; Code 1876, §4109; Code 1886, §3775; Code 1896, §4420; Code 1907, §6421; Code 1923, §3485; Code 1940, T. 14, §161; Code 1975, §13-6-120.)
Thank you so much for writing.

By the way, you had no way of knowing, but I grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky.


Archangel: My family is from Harlan and Clay counties. A small town and post office are named after one of my great-uncles in Harlan county. Small world, huh? You will find Alabama just as inviting as Kentucky with plenty of hunting and fishing and usually milder winters. This year has been an exception tho'. Take ca:biggrin:re.
It is not that bad

Alabama is pretty laid back about gun laws. The one thing to always be careful about here is that we tend to give Law Enforcement Officers a LOT of leeway. It is not unusual at all for an officer to draw on you. Get your hands up and keep your whits about you and be very respectful and there should not be a problem. Yes if you are wandering around with a bowie knife on your person there is a risk that it might be taken (especially if it is particularly "cool"). I can't see it escalating to charges unless you provoke the officer in some way. You will probably have less trouble with Perry County LEOs over a knife, than if you tried to walk into a club on Birmingham's Southside or were walking up and down the beach in Gulf Shores. Getting your concealed carry permit is not a big hassle......we have similar issues getting your boat permit every year.
Gentlemen are where you find them.

Archangel1191al said:
“I grew up in Harlan County, KY, and am greatly looking forward to coming back to the South. These northerners try a man's patience, as they know almost nothing about being a gentleman, keeping their word, or clamping their ever- flapping jaws shut unless they have something to say.”
“Anyone who says 'people are the same all over' has not done much traveling, . . .”

“Like I said, you couldn't have known, but I feel the same way about Yankees as I do about the intrusion into our second amendment rights. And living with them has been like living with a bunch of heathen Talibanis. Most of these folks don't know honor or honesty from an egg sandwich, and I will be mightily glad to be shut of them!”

Well, Archangel, I was born and raised in Chicago, have traveled to 46 different states (as well as a few other countries and have lived in states from Michigan to California (including Texas). I say people ARE the same everywhere. You will find plenty of gentlemen who keep their word in the north and plenty of scoundrels in the south. Of course the reverse is true, also.

When I lived in Texas I was called a Damn Yankee. I argued that I was, indeed, a Yankee, but the Damn Yankees were the baseball team in New York.

It's too bad you couldn't find any gentlemen in Indiana (where I now currently live) because there are plenty of us here. Good luck in finding good people everywhere. They are out there.

Oh, yes. Some of the biggest 'jaw flappers' I ever met were found in Texas – and they weren't imports from the north.
It's very nice to see someone who can communicate a difference of opinion without playing the "nasty" card.

I am sure you are right. I have NOT traveled as extensively as you, and as Mark Twain said, "if it were not for idiots and scoundrels, there would not be a legislature in any state in the union."

I was making a generalization, and that is always dangerous. But I assure you that a handshake in Harlan County, Kentucky means something very different than it does in Indianapolis, Indiana. Or at least it did twenty-five years ago, and I find it hard to believe things have changed much.

Thanks for pointing out my ignorance, and particularly in such friendly language. Obviously, YOU are a gentleman, wherever you are from. I wish there were more of your sort [as witness the "gentleman" who followed after your post].

All the best, -

I squirrel hunted in Clay, and my uncles darn near drowned me in those strip pits, "teaching" me to swim [much the same way a mother fish teaches her young, that is - making sure they are underwater].

It is good to hear from a fellow canelander, and I bet you will agree with me that two of us are still worth a dozen from most other places when it comes to "old time tough".

Thanks for writing me. I haven't had the chance to touch base with a fellow coal-sniffer for many a year. I wish you all kinds of good.

Alabama has a lot of bad laws on the books many of which are left over from the 30s and attempts by the State's elites to crush poor whites/unions and blacks. For example the code was amended in 1936 to prevent ownership of pistols by those of unsound mind but unsound mind was never defined. There's a provision of the code that requires a gun dealer to submit a copy of the 4473 to the secretary of state and local LEOs whenever a pistol is sold within 6 hours by certified or registered mail. (How do you sell a pistol after 9am and keep your store open when the USPS closes at 3pm or how do you sell a pistol after 3pm ). That record which is repleat with personal information is then public record.

It's okay to carry a concealed pistol but could be illegal to carry a 2.76" pocket knife into mountain brook from birmingham or vestavia hills. So you're then arrested for a concealed weapon for the knife while lawfully carrying a concealed pistol.

Interestingly enough short barrel rifles and short barrel shotguns were illegal until last year. Now under Alabama law my tromix S-17 8" barrel 12ga and AR-15 11" barrel SBR are both legally pistols under Alabama's definition of pistol for purposes of the concealed weapons law.

I like that, but it's another example of idiots in past year making laws about things they knew nothing about. In Alabama the rule is if there's not a law even if it's a nonissue, go a head and make one. If you don't like the law just don't enforce it and bring it out as a sledge hammer to use it when you want to.
That was my point. As an attorney, FFL, and firearms instructor, I obey the laws and make sure my client know them as well. Laws that are criminal in nature and are uninforced are nothing more than a trap for good people who are ignorant about the laws on the books. They are dangerous to say the least.

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