Concealed Carry is definitely a hotter topic today than it has been in past years so it makes it even more important to understand what is behind these laws and how each state treats this topic. Let’s start with the 3 categories of Concealed Carry (CCW). They are…
- Unrestricted…no permit or licensing is required
- May-Issue…a permit is required but the discretion is left up to the state to decide how to issue these permits
- Shall-Issue…a permit is required as well but is given once a certain pre-defined set of criteria are met by the individual, such as background checks, etc.
But even within these three seemingly well-defined categories there are uniqueness’s that need to be understood to keep the average citizen out of trouble with the law. It’s important to look at some of the states for each category and some of the differences that exist in these areas. While this list of states or the details here isn’t going to be exhaustive and complete in every detail, hopefully it will give you some idea about the complexity and different issues you need to be aware of as a gun owner.
UNRESTRICTED…the four states with this law are Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming. This is pretty straightforward…you can carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
MAY-ISSUE…there are only 9 that leave the issuance of a CCW permit to the discretion of the state. They are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The advantage to these states is that while they have laws permitting people to carry concealed firearms, they ultimately can deny anyone a permit at their discretion. So even if you have met the requirements they specify to get a permit, they can deny the permit at any time.
SHALL-ISSUE…this is where the majority of states exist…having criteria for a gun owner to meet in order for them to obtain a CCW permit. While these criteria vary widely between states, if you meet the criteria, they are required to issue you a permit. However, as with many laws, it isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think.
For example, there are 17 states (Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) where there is “no-discretion” and they are required to issue a CCW permit.
In contrast, there are 20 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia) where there is “Limited Discretion” and while someone might meet all the requirements, the state has some flexibility in denying the permit. The reasons vary by state so you should check our local state laws (or give me a call) to be up to speed on why they might reject you.
What seems to be relatively straightforward isn’t when it comes to gun law. Concealed Carry is just another one of those examples and one I would encourage everyone to be aware of to know what is and isn’t allowed…better to be informed and safe than uninformed and sorry!