States That Allow Concealed Carry

With more and more people deciding to purchase guns to protect themselves, one of the most asked questions is about which states allow concealed carry and which states allow open carry. Open carry refers to having a gun on you, but in plain sight. It must be in a holster and it must be visible by others. Many people confuse open carry with concealed carry, which is when you can carry a gun but keep it hidden.

States That Allow Concealed Carry

Every state– including the District of Columbia– allows the carrying of concealed weapons in some form. Forty-two states generally require a state-issued permit in order to carry concealed weapons in public (“CCW” permit).  The remaining eight (Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming) generally allow individuals to carry concealed weapons in public without a permit. (However, seven of these eight states still issue CCW permits; individuals may desire them to qualify for an exemption from federal law’s background check requirements when purchasing a firearm, or so that they may carry concealed weapons in other states). Additionally, Mississippi allows individuals to carry concealed loaded handguns in public without a permit only if the handgun is kept in a purse, satchel, briefcase, or similar item, or in  a fully enclosed case.

Of the 42 states that generally require a CCW permit in order to carry concealed weapons in public, nine states have “may issue” laws, which grant the issuing authority wide discretion to deny a CCW permit to an applicant if, for example, the authority believes the applicant lacks good character or lacks a good reason for carrying a weapon in public. The other 33 states have “shall issue” laws, which require the issuing authority to grant most CCW permit requests. “Shall issue” laws can be further subdivided into states that provide no discretion to the issuing authority, and states which provide the issuing authority a limited amount of discretion.

Nearly every state places some restrictions on where concealed firearms may be carried, including restrictions in bars, schools, and hospitals, and at public sporting events. Info taken from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“May Issue” States
· Connecticut
· Delaware
· Hawaii
· Maryland
· Massachusetts
· New Jersey
· New York
· Rhode Island

Limited Discretion “Shall Issue” States
· Arkansas
· Colorado
· Georgia
· Illinois
· Indiana
· Iowa
· Minnesota
· Missouri
· Montana
· New Hampshire
· North Dakota
· Oregon
· Pennsylvania
· South Dakota
· Utah
· Virginia

No Discretion “Shall Issue” States
· Kentucky
· Louisiana
· Michigan
· Mississippi
· Nebraska
· Nevada
· New Mexico
· North Carolina
· Ohio
· Oklahoma
· South Carolina
· Tennessee
· Texas
· Washington
· Wisconsin

No CCW Permit Is Required
· Arizona
· Idaho
· Kansas
· Maine
· Vermont
· West Virginia
· Wyoming

States Allowing Open Carry
Not all states will allow people to open carry a weapon. Some states do not allow carrying a weapon at all, other require a permit, and a few do not require any permit or license. The following are the states that prohibit open carry, the ones that require a permit, and those that do not require any permit or license, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

States That Allow Open Carry With a Permit or License
· Utah
· Oklahoma
· Minnesota
· Iowa
· Indiana
· Tennessee
· Georgia
· Rhode Island
· Connecticut
· New Jersey
· Maryland

States That Allow Open Carry Without A Permit or License
· Washington
· Oregon
· Nevada
· Idaho
· Arizona
· New Mexico
· Montana
· Wyoming
· Colorado
· Kansas
· Nebraska
· South Dakota
· North Dakota
· Missouri
· Arkansas
· Louisiana
· Mississippi
· Alabama
· Kentucky
· Wisconsin
· Michigan
· Ohio
· West Virginia
· Virginia
· North Carolina
· Pennsylvania
· Vermont
· New Hampshire
· Maine
· Delaware

States that Prohibit Open Carry
· California
· Texas
· Illinois
· Florida
· South Carolina
· New York
· District of Columbia

Exceptions You Need to Know
Even though some states allow open carry, establishments in those states may not want patrons to exercise their right to have a weapon with them. Some of these larger estamblishment are Target, Starbucks, and Chipotle. While they cannot make people not carry, they can post that weapons are not allowed in their store.

The laws for open carry are for handguns. Long guns have different restrictions, so they may not be allowed in the states allowing open carry with or without a permit or license. This is important for hunters to know.

Will It Change?
Lawmakers discuss open and concealed carry often. Many advocates continuously fight for the right to bear arms, especially the National Rifle Association. According to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, “The National Rifle Association strongly supports conceal carry and open carry, and we will continue to lead the charge to protect and expand the right to self defense for law abiding American throughout the country.”

Gun rights may change, so keep an eye on those changes if you’re considering carrying. Start by visiting your local gun shop, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city that has one, and get to know the people there. Ask questions. They can help you  understand what the current law is and what you can or cannot do.