As a gun owner, it’s important to be aware of as many laws and safety tips as you can so that you can be a positive and strong member of your community. But possession of firearms can get a little tricky when you start to travel, whether you’re carrying a personal firearm for protection or a rifle for hunting season.
When it comes to gun laws and concealed carry weapon (CCW) licenses in the country, each state has its own set of rules and judgments regarding age restrictions, open carry, and concealed carry. Depending on where you live and travel, you’ll want to be well-versed in the laws in each state and prepare accordingly.
CCW Permit Laws
As we mentioned, each state has its own state laws when it comes to a concealed firearm. States decide how strict their gun laws and concealed carry license regulations are, and if you were to travel from state to state, it would behoove you to brush up so that you don’t find yourself facing a fine or potential jail time.
As far as permit laws and requirements go there are several degrees of strictness a state may operate by. If the state grants application or renewal application permission to citizens only, that means that you must live in and have your legal address registered in the state and be of legal age. Others may grant permits to individuals who live elsewhere.
Of course, in the United States, each state has rules or discretion on whether you can carry a concealed firearm if you have a felony conviction, misdemeanor, other offense, or have spent time in correctional facilities. Some states will also check to see if you have a history of alcoholism to make sure you're not carrying under the influence of alcohol.
Naturally, these laws apply to the county sheriff's office, armed forces, national guard, police department, and other law enforcement agencies.
May Issue to Residents Only
There are some states that may issue concealed carry permits to residents who apply. The state will determine, based on the application and potentially other qualification factors, whether or not an individual is fit to carry.
May Issue to Residents and Non-Residents
Some states will maintain the same judgment after a concealed handgun application is turned in but won’t limit it to their residents. Remember, these are states that will not automatically hand out a concealed carry permit to anyone who fills in the application and meets requirements. The state will determine whether or not the permit is granted.
Shall Issue to Residents Only
These states will absolutely issue a concealed carry permit to any resident that fills out the concealment application and meets the standard requirements, which differ from state to state. As long as you meet the requirements, live in the state, and turn in your papers, the state will grant you a permit.
Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents
These states will also grant permits to individuals who meet requirements and turn in an application, but it isn’t a requirement that you legally live in the state to get your license.
Constitutional Carry, Residents Only
When a state practices what’s called constitutional carry, it means that they do not require a permit for their residents to conceal carry. They will still issue permits to their residents, but it isn’t required. However, this would only apply to residents of the state.
Constitutional Carry, Residents and Non-Residents
Non-resident constitutional carry means that the state doesn’t require their residents or visitors to have a permit to conceal-carry, but they will still issue permits when applications are filled out.
State by State Guide
Alright, time for the state-by-state guide on concealed carry laws. We’ll discuss whether the state issues permits for residents only, non-residents, or requires permits at all.
Alabama is a Shall Issue to Residents Only state, meaning that individuals who wish to carry who live in Alabama just need to fill out the application and meet the requirements and the state will issue and respect a conceal carry permit.
However, you do not need the permit to purchase the firearm, and open carry is legal for handguns only (sorry, hunters). You’re required to keep the firearm in an approved holster.
The state of Alaska is a Constitutional Carry state, meaning that they don’t require any permit to conceal your weapon. They also allow open carry, whether it’s a handgun or rifle; no purchase permit, registration, or holster required.
Arizona is a constitutional carry state that issues permits to residents and non-residents alike. They don’t require the permit, though, but they’ll issue one for you. They don’t require any registration or a permit to purchase your weapon. Arizona also explicitly doesn’t have a restriction on magazine capacity.
Arkansas is the same as Arizona, constitutional carry for residents and non-residents. There are no restrictions or requirements, and open carry is allowed for handguns and rifles.
California has stricter gun laws than we’ve seen so far. The state is a May Issue to Residents state, meaning that after filling out the application and meeting the requirement, the state will decide whether or not the applicant is fit for the permit to conceal-carry.
They do require a permit for purchasing a firearm as well as a license for private sellers and background checks for buyers. Their open carry policy depends on the county, as the state has a variety of populated zones, so double check your specific location.
While the regulations are strict, California has a lot of opportunities for hunters, so it’s not a state to overlook.
The state of Colorado is a Shall Issue to Residents Only state so that non-residents won’t have any luck. If you live in the state, you just need to send in an application and meet the requirements. But you don’t need a permit to purchase your firearm, nor do you need to register it.
The open carry policy is open, but not everywhere. For example, the city of Denver doesn’t allow open carry of handguns or rifles. Private sellers will need to run background checks, and there is a magazine capacity limit of 15 rounds.
Connecticut has some strict laws, but once you own your firearm, it’s more open. The state is technically a May Issue to Resident; however, due to recent court rulings, it operates more as a Shall Issue to Resident. There is a 14-day waiting period to purchase rifles, and serial numbers are included in the registration of your firearm.
The open carry policy requires a permit for handguns; however, rifles aren’t mentioned in current law.
Delaware has had similar court rulings regarding its May/Shall state as Connecticut. It typically operates as a Shall Issue to Residents Only. You don’t need a permit to purchase, nor do you need to register your weapon. Also, open carry is allowed without any specific permit, but background checks are required for private gun sales.
District of Columbia
Though not a state itself, the District of Columbia has its own firearm laws. It does follow Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents, and you will need a permit to purchase your weapon and register it with the local police.
Open carry is strictly not allowed in the district, and private gun sales will require a background check. There is a magazine capacity limit of 10 rounds.
Florida is a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents, so even if you don’t live in the state, you just need to fill out the application and meet the requirements. You don’t need a permit to purchase your gun, nor do you need to register it.
However, the state is strict when it comes to open carry, regardless of if you own a handgun or rifle. There are exceptions when it comes to hunting, but you’ll want to confirm the laws in your area.
Georgia is a Shall Issue state, but only to residents. There isn’t any permit required for rifles, and you don’t need a permit or registration for your firearm. Open carry is allowed. However, you will need to acquire a license.
Hawaii is a May Issue state. However, it’s notably pretty strict, reportedly only issuing four conceal carry permits over the last 20 years. You will need a permit to purchase your firearm as well as registration of it. Open carry is allowed. However, this is typically considered just for rifles.
Background checks are required, and the magazine size restriction is 10 rounds.
Idaho is a Constitutional Carry state for residents and non-residents. However, certain cities will require non-residents to have a permit. Double-check where you’re visiting.
Otherwise, there’s no permit for open carry, no background checks, magazine restriction, purchase permits, or registration required for your firearm.
The state of Illinois operates as a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents, but you will need a Firearm Ownership ID in order to purchase your weapon. There are required background checks for private gun sales, and there isn’t a magazine size restriction in place. However, there’s also no open carry allowed, regardless of permit.
Indiana follows a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents, so you’ll just need to submit an application and meet requirements. There isn’t a permit required for purchasing your firearm, nor a registration.
There is open carry allowed for both handguns and rifles, though a permit is required.
Iowa is also a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents state, and there aren't any conceal-carry requirements for long guns. Once you have your concealed carry permit, you can use that to purchase your gun instead of a standard permit.
You don’t need to register your firearm, but you will need to pass a background check when it comes to a private gun sale.
Kansas is a Constitutional Carry state for residents and non-residents, so no permits are required even if you’re just visiting. There aren’t any purchase permits, restrictions, or registrations.
Kentucky is a Shall Issue to Residents state and requires permit holders to pass an accuracy test along with other exams. Otherwise, there aren’t any other requirements or permits for owning or open carry.
The state of Louisiana has a Shall Issue to Residents Only policy. However, you don’t need to get a permit to purchase your weapon. There isn’t any required registration for general sales or private sales, and open carry is allowed in most counties.
Maine has a Constitutional Carry policy that extends to residents and non-residents alike. Open carry is permitted, and there are no purchase permits, registration of any kind, or magazine restrictions required.
Maryland is a pretty strict state when it comes to firearms. There is a May Issue to Residents policy, but permits are pretty difficult to get a hold of. You will need a qualification license to purchase your weapon as well as registration with local law enforcement.
Background checks are required, and private gun sales must be licensed themselves. Open carry is pretty limited and, for the most part, is only an option for police and security guards. They have a ban on assault weapons and a magazine limit of 10 rounds on handguns.
Massachusetts offers a May Issue to Residents and Non-Residents policy, and the state will decide if an individual is fit for concealed carry. You will need a purchase permit, but no registration is required.
Open carry is allowed with a special permit, but rifles are illegal unless in specific hunting conditions. Magazines must not exceed 10 rounds, and a Red Flag Law allows law enforcement to confiscate weapons temporarily.
Michigan is a Shall Issue to Residents Only state, and your carry permit will cover the purchase of your firearm (You’ll need a purchase permit otherwise.) You’ll be required to register your handgun but not your long gun, and you’ll need a permit to open carry.
Minnesota has a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents policy for handguns and rifles. You will need a permit to purchase your gun but no registration or magazine capacity restrictions. In order or legally move the firearm in a vehicle, you’ll need to unload and keep the weapon in a case.
Minnesota has a Duty to Retreat law, which means that an individual must reasonably exhaust all options, including retreat, before using their weapon.
The state of Mississippi has a policy of Constitutional Carry for all residents and non-residents. There are no permits required to carry or purchase a firearm, concealed or open, no background checks, and no magazine size restrictions.
Missouri is also a Constitutional Carry state for residents and non-residents and doesn’t have any other type of restriction or requirements.
Montana is a Constitutional Carry state. However, you will need a permit to conceal carry in certain cities. Otherwise, open carry is allowed without a permit, and there are no other restrictions.
Nebraska follows a Shall Issue to Residents Only, but you only need the permit for a handgun. Rifles are allowed for concealed or open carry regardless. There are no magazine restrictions; however, you will need to pass a background check for private sales or acquire a permit to purchase your firearm.
Nevada is a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents state, so gun owners just need to submit an application and meet the requirements to receive a conceal permit. There is no purchase permit or registration required, and open carry is allowed. However, if you’re in a vehicle, the firearm must be visible unless you have a concealed carry permit.
New Hampshire follows a Constitutional Carry policy for residents and non-residents. There aren’t any restrictions or required permits; however, rifles and long guns must be unloaded while being transported in a vehicle.
The state of New Jersey has a May Issue to Residents and Non-Residents policy, but you might find it difficult to obtain one. You’ll need a purchase permit and registration for your weapon, and open carry requires a permit for handguns. There is a 10 round limit on handguns and a 6 round limit for semi-automatic shotguns.
New Mexico has a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents protocol, with no other restrictions or requirements on open carry, registration, or magazine capacities.
New York has fairly strict gun laws, particularly in larger cities. It will be harder to get a concealed carry permit with their May Issue to Residents policy, and you’ll need a permit to purchase your weapon. Registration is mandatory, open carry isn’t allowed, and private sales must be made through a licensed dealer. Magazine capacity is limited to 10 rounds.
North Carolina follows Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents, and you will need a permit to purchase your gun but no registration. Open carry is legal and there is no magazine restriction.
North Dakota is pretty relaxed when it comes to permits, you’ll need a concealed carry permit, but they follow a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents policy.
Ohio has a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents policy and doesn’t require any purchase permit or registration of your firearm. Open carry is allowed outside of certain establishments.
Oklahoma is a Constitutional Carry state, but they will issue permits to their residents. Open carry is allowed for handguns but not rifles.
Oregon has a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents policy. There are no other permits or registration required, though private sales must be operated through a licensed dealer.
Pennsylvania is a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents state, so even if you don’t legally live in the state, you would be able to attain a concealed carry permit. There are no purchase permit or registration requirements; however, open carry is not allowed in the city of Philadelphia. Private gun sales must be operated through a licensed dealer or law enforcement office.
The small state of Rhode Island operates as a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents state, though a concealed carry permit is not required for long guns. You’ll need to pass a safety exam before purchasing your firearm, and you’ll need a permit to open carry. There aren’t any magazine capacity restrictions, but background checks are required for private gun sales.
South Carolina is also a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents state, and while open carry isn’t allowed for handguns, you won’t need a purchase permit or registration for your weapon.
South Dakota is another Constitutional Carry state. While there aren’t any requirements to purchase your weapon and open carry is legal, the firearm must be visible while in a vehicle.
Tennessee has a Constitutional Carry policy for residents; there are no purchase permits, registration, or magazine limit in place.
Texas follows the Constitutional Carry laws for residents. Open carry is legal, and no other permits or registrations are required, meaning you can safely carry your Texas firearm openly.
The state of Utah is a little mixed on its policies: You don’t need a permit to carry or conceal a handgun while inside of a vehicle or if the firearm is “two actions” away from being fired.
However, you will need a permit outside of the vehicle, and open carry requires a permit if the weapon is loaded.
Vermont has the lightest conceal carry laws in the country. Not only do they not require any permit for concealed carry, but they also don’t even issue them. Background checks are required through private sales, and handguns cannot exceed 15 rounds.
The state of Virginia has a Shall Issue to Residents Only policy. You don’t need a permit to purchase or registration for your weapon, open carry is allowed, and there are no magazine restrictions.
Washington state has a Shall Issue to Residents Only policy, and handguns must be registered and reported to local police. Open carry is allowed, though loaded handguns require a permit while in a vehicle.
West Virginia has a Constitutional Carry law for its residents, requiring no permits and no registration. Open carry is allowed.
Wisconsin does require a permit for concealed carry, however as a Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents state it’s fairly easy to obtain your permit. Open carry is allowed for handguns and rifles and there are no registrations required.
Wyoming is a Constitutional Carry state, with no permit required for concealed or open carry.