On the subject of Open Carry, it is a hotly debated subject in Alabama, mostly because the law is confusing, and I think secondly because people don't understand English, including lawyers and judges. There is NOT a consensus among Sheriffs of what the law says and they will arrest or not arrest based on their opinion or on more localized ordinances.
The Alabama law on carrying a pistol is as follows:
Carrying a pistol on premises not
his own; who may carry pistol.
Except as otherwise provided in
this article, no person shall carry a
pistol about his person on premises
not his own or under his control...
IMO, this section clearly states that you can NOT carry a pistol (open or concealed) unless you are on your own property or on property of which you are under control (rental property, leased property, etc.). The exception clause at the beginning says that elsewhere in Article 13A there may be additional language that makes exception to this.
The Alabama Open Carry organization, and plenty of other supporters, hang their hat on the following additional language that is in Article 13A:
License to carry pistol in vehicle or
concealed on person – Required.
No person shall carry a pistol in any
vehicle or concealed on or about his
person, except on his land, in his own
abode or fixed place of business,
without a license therefor
IMO, this section says that you can NOT carry a pistol in your vehicle (open or concealed) or concealed on yourself without a license UNLESS you are on your own land, in your apartment, condo, etc... or in your business. The pro-Open Carry crowd claims this language does not specifically disallow open carry on your person, claiming it's meaning is to require you to have a license to carry it concealed, and therefore Open Carry on your person is legal and you do not need a license to do it.
IMO, you cant ignore the Title of this section, which is "License to carry pistol in vehicle or concealed on person – Required."
This means the language immediately following it for Article 13A-11-73 is ONLY addressing carrying a pistol in a vehicle and carrying a pistol concealed. It is NOT addressing anything to do with Open Carry, or making any kind of assumption that open carry is legal. For this reason, I think their argument is bogus and they are recklessly telling people that Open Carry is legal due to this language.
That said, there have been legal rulings that agree with their position, with the common ruling that Article 13A-11-73 "does not prohibit the open carrying of an unlicensed pistol". I don't know about anybody else, but again, this section deals specifically with the subject of carrying pistols in vehicles and carrying pistols concealed....NOTHING else, and Article 13A-11-73 clearly prohibits Open Carry unless you're on your own property, unless there was further language in Article 13A that provided
otherwise. Claiming that open carry is not prohibited in 13A-11-73 is not something that is provided
, it is something that is being assumed to be provided because it is not specifically addressed. And again, this section's title clearly states what the section is providing, and anything other than carrying in vehicles or carrying concealed is NOT provided for in this particular section.
As much as I am in support of Open Carry, if I were a juror, I would tell anybody that got busted for open carry in Alabama that they broke the law, although I would suggest a $0 fine.
I do wish they would amend the gun carry laws to be less confusing and positively state what is allowed, and not leave it up to dubious interpretations, but I'm just a citizen.....what do I know.