In a letter dated July 22, 2019, the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) said that licenses issued by the state of Alabama, even if they meet other criteria (issued within the last five years after a NICS background check), will no longer serve as an exemption to the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems (NICS). This is a reversal of the BATFE’s February 24, 2016 Open Letter saying that the licenses would be an exemption.
The reason for the change is that Alabama’s issuance process does not satisfy the BATFE that they are checking the Immigration Alien Query (IAQ) system and NICS before issuing a license. This is a bigger deal than normal because Alabama has one of the highest per capita license rates in the southeast.