With more people falling victim to shootings taking place all across the nation, the issue of whether or not people should be free to carry guns for self-defense continues. One one hand, many people believe allowing people to carry guns is the best way to ensure fast reactions to these shootings, limiting deaths and injuries and stopping further escalation. On the other hand, some people believe that allowing citizens to carry contributes to the problem.
The truth, as it is with most things, probably lies somewhere in the middle — especially when it comes to how, where, or when you can carry. This is especially true for concealed weapons (any weapon worn or carried in a way that hides or otherwise conceals it from public view). In some states, you can carry a weapon in whatever way you like. In others, you can only carry a weapon if it is clearly visible to the people around you. Still other states require licensing for all concealed carry holders (including law enforcement officers and other authorities). In an effort to highlight how diverse the law can be, we’re sharing a few of the most interesting concealed carry facts from around the nation.
Key Concealed Carry Facts
- Only seven states allow citizens to carry a concealed weapon with absolutely no license or restrictions. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Vermont, and West Virginia.
- All other states mandate that concealed carriers must be licensed, although the exact type and designation of license can vary dramatically state-to-state. A full 30 states recognize the National Concealed Carry Qualification (NCCQ). 13 states do not recognize the NCCQ; instead, they self-legislate or have in-state licensing options.
- States that restrict concealed carry often take a relaxed approach to these guidelines when it comes to open carry (carrying your weapon in a way that makes it easily visible). A total of 45 states allow open carry. California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina expressly prohibit open carrying, while Alabama, North Dakota,Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington place restrictions on carrying in specific places (e.g., a mall or private property). All of these states either fully restrict or require licensing for concealed carry.
- Although people often quote the 2nd Amendment as cause for permitting citizens to carry a concealed weapon, this is a short-sighted approach. Truthfully, the 2nd Amendment only protects the right to bear arms — it does not protect the right to carry your weapon in a concealed fashion.
- If you travel across state lines while continuing to carry a concealed weapon, you could find yourself in legal hot water. Although some states recognize licensure from other states, others do not. Because not every state recognizes the NCCQ or licenses from other states, you should always check state-specific guidelines before you travel.
What gun laws would you change, if you could?