View Full Version : Rifle laws

January 22, 2009, 11:30 PM
Ok I am in Birmingham Al, i was curious about laws regarding shooting in fields. I have been going to the gun range a lot but it starting to get expensive. So lets say i find a huge field obviously outside the city limits and not on private property, and has a good backstop is it lawful for me to shoot there if i set up some targets. The only Alabama law i could find regarding this goes as follows

It is a misdemeanor to hunt with a center-fire rifle, a shotgun using a slug or shot larger in diameter than standard four shot, or a .40 caliber or larger muzzle-loading rifle, within 50 yards of a public road, public highway, or railroad by anyone other than the landowner or his or her immediate family.

It is unlawful to discharge any firearm upon or across any public road, public highway or railroad.

Thanks any help on this topic will be appreciated

January 22, 2009, 11:32 PM
By the way i will only be shooting rifles no handguns

January 22, 2009, 11:39 PM

January 22, 2009, 11:55 PM
um is this a dumb question

January 23, 2009, 12:14 AM
No, this is not a dumb question at all. The only thing dumb in this conversation would be to base your decision to engage in said conduct solely upon the ramblings of other forum users who may or may not be lawyers. (I don't mean to be flip, but you set me up too well :D )

In all seriousness though, I would definitely consult a lawyer, or at the VERY least put in a call to the Police or District Attorney. With a lawyer, you at least have a malpractice cause of action should they say you can shoot yet you are convicted. Regarding the Police or the DA, it is generally the policy of most jurisdictions that in order for you to be able to use the advice/legal conclusions of the state, you must receive a definitive answer to your question by an appropriate representative of the state acting in an official capacity. Often (always?) this must be in writing. I doubt that calling the police would suffice. I doubt too that calling the DA or even your state's Attorney General would suffice. You'd want anything in writing to be useful later.

Bear in mind that there could be any number of different laws/ordinances from any number of different sources. There could be state law, local ordinances, or rules or regulations from any myriad of different state agencies. Even fire codes might proscribe shooting in certain areas in certain conditions. Thats why I say talk to someone who knows whats going on.

You could continue to look on your own, but only you can decide if its worth the risk. Up here in Massachusetts, shooting where you're not supposed to will likely find you in jail, or at least face that when you are charged. At the very least, they'll yank your gun license and there goes any shooting for you anywhere. I imagine things aren't quite so bad in Alabama, but I wouldn't assume that necessarily.

January 23, 2009, 12:26 AM
I agree it is dumb to ask this question on a forum, i guess i am more asking where do i go and what do i do to find this out, thank you for your response

January 23, 2009, 12:36 AM
I'd call the police and ask them outright whether there is anything barring you from shooting on open public land. If you have a specific area in mind, ask about it specifically. If they say you cannot, you can either just call it a day, or ask them what law, specifically, bars you from shooting. Don't be confrontational about it, but be prepared for them to become much less accommodating if you start pushing them for specific laws (not necessarily, but its just more work and more involved for them). This at least will give you a baseline, and if they tell you of a law, then you are done and you know you can't do it.

Beyond that, call any other government organization you can think of and ask the same questions. There is the DA, city hall, and any relevant government agency you can think of. Remember, only 1 of them has to tell you about 1 law and its game over. Alternatively/additionally, if you have an Alabama-specific gun rights group, try giving them a call. Up in Massachusetts, we have GOAL, which is an EXCELLENT resource for gun owners up here.

Al Norris
January 23, 2009, 12:46 AM
They don't have a website listed, but you can probably find your answers here:

ALABAMA STATE RIFLE & PISTOL ASSOCIATION. Mr. James L. Moses, President home: 256-534-7968 [email protected]

January 23, 2009, 08:46 AM
I guess out in a state forest or such....

You would probably be much 'safer' finding a farmer who is willing to let you go shoot out in one of his fields.

January 23, 2009, 09:12 AM
FWIW, those of us who live out west utilize public land extensively for such pursuits. That being said, it is very important to obtain public land maps for your area to verify that they are public. after that, a stop at the local county sheriff shop would be a very good choice to see what their views on the matter are. DO NOT ASSUME that a unused tract of land is public. Rand McNally produces mapbooks called the Gazetter for just about every state. They are a great resource to carry in your P/U. I do.

January 23, 2009, 10:48 AM
You've got as much right to use that land as the hippy hikers and bikers.

Unless there is a statute which states to the contrary....

January 23, 2009, 12:00 PM
I would say your best bet is to find private land to shot on. Or Join a sportsmens club that has a range. I am a member of a club here in KY and your range is just $2 a day, and $120 a year.

January 24, 2009, 09:25 AM
I live a few miles east of Gardendale, near Birmingham, outside of city limits. I do a lot shooting on my own property and have never had any complaints. When I moved here about 8 months ago I contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office about shooting on my land and in a nutshell was told as long as I had a decent backstop and wasn't doing anything that could be deemed menacing (pointing my guns at neighbors houses, passing cars, people, etc) there was no law to stop me.

I also took a good long look at Alabama's criminal code and couldn't find anything to worry about.

But, of course, I'm shooting on my land so that makes it a lot easier. A lot of people shoot in the old strip mines around this area and usually the most they have to worry about is being told to leave. I'd ask around at some local PDs to see if they can suggest a safe place for you to shoot that isn't going to cost an arm and a leg. Some friends of mine have had some luck with this. I'm pretty sure the Jefferson County Sheriff's department will allow you to use their range for free on Saturdays provided you call ahead and that there is not training going on that day.

January 24, 2009, 12:21 PM
My local club membership is $10 a year and you can shoot rifle/pistol for free. You provide the targets etc. I can't recall the prices for trap/skeet but I think it's less than $3 a round.

I would say your best bet is to find private land to shot on. Or Join a sportsmens club that has a range. I am a member of a club here in KY and your range is just $2 a day, and $120 a year.

January 27, 2009, 12:06 PM
The thing to keep in mind is that all land is owned by SOMEONE... either an individual or the local / state or Federal Gov't... so the ? is who owns the land you are shooting on... will THEY allow you to use it? Are you trepassing etc etc... as a rule you cannot just shoot on any piece of open land for many reasons... not the least of all is trash cleanup...