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Concealed Carry In the United States - State Policies

(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Legal Liability & Vehicle Carry

State Permit Issue Policies

Concealed Carry Statistics

CCW Effects on Crime


Permit Issue Policies:

State laws and policies relating to the issuance of concealed carry permits generally fall into various categories depending on their guidelines. These are typically described as may-issue, shall-issue, no-issue, and unrestricted.


A may-issue jurisdiction, within the context of gun law, is one that requires a permit to carry a concealed handgun, and where the granting of such permits is partially at the discretion of local authorities (frequently the sheriff's department or police): the law typically states that a granting authority may issue a permit if various criteria are met. A jurisdiction that is de jure a may-issue region may de facto range anywhere from no-issue to shall-issue.

U.S. states such as California and New York give wide latitude to the county authorities in issuing permits. In California, the usual issuance of the permits ranges from a no-issue policy, such as San Francisco, to an almost shall-issue environment in the rural areas. Iowa has a similar distribution, but unlike California, most counties have lenient policies as most counties are rural. There is a strong movement in Iowa to change the system to shall-issue due to the nature of a county-by-county system. Recently in California a bill was introduced in the state assembly that would, if passed, make California a shall-issue state.

In New York City, a concealed weapons permit is allowed by law, but typically takes a large degree of wealth, political influence, and/or celebrity status to obtain. Examples of current and past New York City permit holders are Charles Schumer, Robert DeNiro, Don Imus, Howard Stern, Ronald Lauder, Edgar Bronfman Sr., Donald Trump, Harvey Keitel, Joan Rivers, Michael Bloomberg, Arthur Sulzberger, and Bill Cosby.

In US states such as Connecticut, a local concealed weapons permit for the specific county of residence must first be obtained, which is may-issue depending on the county (permits are generally easier to obtain in rural areas than in urban areas). Once the local permit is obtained, the possessor may then apply for a statewide concealed weapons permit, which is generally shall-issue. Once the state permit is issued, the local permit is superseded and no longer required.

Maryland law contains provisions for citizens to apply for a concealed carry permit, but in reality only those with political or police connections can get one (making it effectively a no-issue state). While the law does allow for resident private citizens with documented severe threats to their life to obtain a carry permit, it is extremely rare for those requests to be honored.

Alabama is by law a may-issue state, but as of 2006[update] all Alabama county sheriffs issue permits to almost all qualified applicants, making it shall-issue in practice.


A shall-issue jurisdiction, within the context of gun law, is one that requires a permit to carry a concealed handgun, but where the granting of such permits is subject only to meeting certain criteria laid out in the law; the granting authority has no discretion in the awarding of the permits. Such laws typically state that a granting authority shall issue a permit if the criteria are met, as opposed to laws where the authority may-issue a permit at their discretion.

Typical permit requirements include residency, minimum age, submitting fingerprints, passing a background check, attending a certified handgun/firearms safety class, participating in a range check/qualification before a certified trainer (for demonstrating safe firearms handling and practical proficiency), and paying the required fee (if any). Minnesota is a classic "shall issue" state.

Requirements also include certification that a person has never been diagnosed with a "mental illness," which include any condition which interferes with "normal life--" including trauma from being victim of prior crimes, or for which the person was diagnosed prior to the passage of the law.

These requirements vary by jurisdiction; for example, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Washington (with well over a million permit holders among them) have no safety certification requirement or range check.

The following are undisputed shall-issue states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Alaska is both a shall-issue and an unrestricted state. Alaska does not require a permit for any law-abiding individual to carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, within the state's borders. However, the state continues to issue permits to any of its residents who meet the state's issuance criteria for reciprocity reasons; Alaska residents can carry, with a permit, while in other states that recognize the Alaska concealed-carry license.

The status of Alabama, Connecticut and Iowa is in some dispute among gun rights activists. The laws of all three states, strictly speaking, would place them in the may-issue category, as permit issue is to some degree discretionary. However, these states are effectively "shall-issue" in practice as agency policies direct the issuing body to approve an applicant who has met statutory requirements.


A no-issue jurisdiction, within the context of gun law, is one that does not allow any private citizen to carry a concealed handgun. The term refers to the fact that no concealed carry permits will be issued (or recognized).

As of December 2007[update] in the United States, Illinois, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia are no-issue jurisdictions. Nebraska and Kansas have passed concealed carry laws which took effect on January 1, 2007; Kansas' concealed carry law was passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2006 over the veto of then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nebraska all permit unlicensed open carry, subject to county and municipal restrictions. The District of Columbia was also "no-issue", and until District of Columbia v. Heller, did in fact forbid possession or ownership of a handgun within the District—except those grandfathered in before the 1976 ordinance went into effect. The Supreme Court overturned the D.C. handgun ban via Heller stating that "the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."

Hawaii is also a no-issue state. Open carry is allowed, with permit, but is restricted to "On Duty, In Uniform" and your employer must register through its local police department. Generally, Uniformed Security Personell, and Armored Courier's are granted the permit. Hawaii does not accept or honor any out of state permits, and also does not allow out of state Police Officers or Sheriff's Deputies to carry at all, even if uniformed for a formal function, at least on the island of Oahu. Only Police Officers of the state, and Federal Agents are allowed concealed carry.


An unrestricted jurisdiction, in the terminology of firearm laws, is one where no permit is required to carry a concealed handgun.

Currently, among U.S. states, only Alaska and Vermont allow the general public to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

Alaska is both unrestricted and a shall-issue state as it continues to automatically issue carry permits to all residents who meet that state's issuance criteria; this is done primarily for permitting residents to legally carry in states that recognize permits from Alaska. Additionally, anyone 16 or older may possess a firearm without parental consent (to carry concealed, the age is 21 ).

Vermont is unique in that permits are not required for carry concealed or unconcealed for resident and non-resident alike. Vermont has no statutes concerning concealed carry, nor is there a specific statute that allows it. In the absence of a statute that prohibits it, then it is taken that there is no law against it. Since Vermont does not issue permits, its residents are unable to legally carry concealed in other states that would normally recognize out-of-state permit holders unless they hold some other state's permit. As a way around this situation, such person who wishes to legally carry a concealed firearm in another state can apply for and receive a non-resident permit from a state which issues non-resident permits, with Florida typically being the state of choice because it holds the widest reciprocity when compared to other states that issue non-resident permits. (Missouri holds the widest reciprocity of all the states in the U.S. with the total number of states currently honoring its permit at 35, followed by Florida and Utah at 33; however, Missouri does not issue permits to non-residents, and some states that honor Utah permits do not extend that to also include Utah's non-resident permits.)