Top Menu

Constitutional Carry and Permitless Carry In Depth Overview

Last Updated: 2/28/17

constitutional carry

Each year we have observed more states passing laws that within our community are referred to as Constitutional Carry or Permitless Carry. What is Constitutional Carry exactly? When does it apply and to whom? What are the common Pros and Cons for gun owners who live in a state with these laws or a state that is proposing the laws? Answers to these questions below:

What Is Constitutional Carry?

The term Constitutional Carry or Permitless Carry refers to legislation, generally at the state level, that allows anyone who can legally possess a firearm to carry it concealed on or about their person without any requirement that the gun owner obtain a license or permit.

What States Currently Have Constitutional Carry Laws?

The below map is indicative of the states that currently allows citizens to carry concealed firearms in any or all situations without first obtaining a concealed carry permit. Vermont is unique on this map since (as of this writing) they are the only state who has no concealed carry permit at all. The other Constitutional Carry states (shown in Green) do have permits that are available for those who want additional flexibility beyond what the permitless carry law allows for.

  • Green = No permit required to carry concealed. (Constitutional Carry)
  • Blue = Shall Issue. States that issue a permit to the applicant if they meet the constitutional requirements and pass the required background check
  • Red = May Issue. States that exercise discretion by requiring the applicant show need or cause, or by out right not issuing permits to anyone

*NOTE: Some states reflected above may have restrictions like only allowing constitutional carry for residents or something similar. Do your research and consult with an attorney!

What Are The Core Arguments in Favor of Constitutional Carry?

The core argument in favor of Permitless Carry is simply that the ability to own a firearm and use it in self-defense is protected by the second amendment of the US constitution. As part of our Bill of Rights the majority of gun owners feel strongly (and I count myself as among this group) that no license should be required by the government in order to exercise one's right to keep and bear arms and that right includes carrying a firearm concealed.

Furthermore, we have now many years of experience with states and constitutional carry. Nothing has happened that would suggest or indicate that allowing citizens to carry concealed even without a permit or training, has a negative outcome on public safety. This “track record” is the greatest supporting data in more constitutional carry legislation.

Concealed is key here because it is in the best interest for a gun owner to not parade the fact that they have a firearm and are prepared to defend themselves. Doing so often makes the gun owner a target and eliminates the significant advantage that surprise brings in an encounter.

Further, there is some concern that a concealed carry permit system, even when sustained and managed by a State or County government is still ultimately a database of gun owners that could potentially be seized or leveraged for bad if the political game changes significantly in the future. Having the right to carry concealed without a permit is also the right to avoid “being on the grid” in order to exercise one's rights.

What Dangers Exist with Constitutional Carry?

While as a community of gun owners we largely support constitutional carry legislation we also work hard to communicate the potential concerns and dangers for citizens that live in states with these laws and who choose not to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Gun Free School Act Requires a Permit

gun free school act permitless carryOne core concern that is not well known is that of the Gun Free School Zone Act. This is a piece of Federal legislation that universally across America makes it illegal to posses a firearm within 1000 feet of a school (with the exception of private property) without being otherwise “licensed” by the State. So, without a permit, EVEN in a state with Constitutional Carry laws, one cannot be within 1000 feet of a school.

This creates a significant restriction since schools are EVERYWHERE and during the course of an average person's daily commute one might drive through the 1000 foot zone on several occasions. Unless that Federal law were to be changed or amended gun owners who can otherwise carry concealed without a permit per their state laws are wise to get a permit anyway.

Lack of Legal Knowledge

My own sense from the instructors on our team (now more than 30 in 17 states) is that citizens who live in states where they can carry concealed without a permit tend to get into trouble because the Constitutional Carry Law tends to create a mental safety blanket that creates a sense of “everything is legal,” when in fact there are always restrictions.

Instrucing bMost gun owners learn about their state laws in a basic concealed carry class. If you live in a state where either no class is required to get a permit, or in which no permit is required to carry concealed you never obtain that kind of training or instruction. Even taking industry standard classes like the NRA Basic Pistol course or NRA Personal Protection Outside or Inside the Home will not provide the student with any instruction about their local state laws.

Legal restrictions always exist. No matter how amiable the laws may seem there are always places you can't go, things you can't do, situations in which you are not justified, and other restrictions for which ignorance is not excuse in the court of law.

Lack of Out of State Reciprocity

different state gun lawsOne of the greatest concerns with the lifestyle of permitless carry is the lack of reciprocity with other states. While the state in which one resides may allow the carrying of a firearm without a permit the crossing of a state line may put that same gun owner in violation of the law.

Constitutional Carry is a form of law that for now is still uncommon. The vast majority of states still require a permit to carry concealed and thus in order to travel with one's firearm without significant legal burdens, one needs a concealed carry permit that is honored in the states where one travels.

RESOURCE: Use our Concealed Carry Permit Maps Builder to See Your State Permit's Reciprocity

Also worth noting and warning members of our community that many states who do allow concealed carry without a permit reserve that right to their own residents. Don't assume when traveling to one of these states that you do not need a permit to carry concealed there as a non-resident.

General Lack of Training and Relationship with an Instructor

Patrick beamIn addition to the concern of the gun owner not knowing the laws, the lack of any required class also puts the gun owner in a bad position if they don't seek out any training on their own. Firearm related defense is far more than just the initiative to carry around a gun. You wouldn't give someone a toolbox and ask them to build a house without a little training and education would you?

This is not an endorsement that training should be required by law, only a concern that in places where it is not required gun owners are often inclined not to pursue it and our community needs to learn how to address that with balance.

Final Thoughts About Constitutional Carry Laws

We urge you to support Constitutional Carry legislation while balancing that with the understanding of how critical training and education are. Ignorance is no excuse and we all need to learn as much as we can and as appropriate encourage others to join us in that effort.

, , , , , , ,

33 Responses to Constitutional Carry and Permitless Carry In Depth Overview

  1. Frederick A. Johnson April 4, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    What do you have to do to get a concealed carry permit or license? In the state of Georgia.

    • Jacob Paulsen April 4, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

      Georgia doesn’t require any training although its a good idea. Apply at your local county sheriff’s office. Many counties have an online application via their website.

  2. William Biggers April 7, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    I agree training should be done for people that want to carry a weapon in public.

  3. George April 7, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    I have a permit to carry in Indiana. As far as reciprocal goes, I carry in whatever state I travel in. Thugs and criminals carry in every state and so do I. Telling me that I can’t carry in your state but yet the criminals can, doesn’t fit with me. I’ll carry wherever. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

    P.S. If a felon is allowed to run for the democratic presidential nomination, I can carry in any state I want. And so it shall be.

    • James Andrews April 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm #

      Good post George; I concur 100%!

    • Victoria Jones April 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

      I do as well. My number one complaint is “GUN FREE ZONES”. This is an open invitation for an active shooter, intent to do the most harm while meeting no resistance, to COME ON IN!

      There are enough qualified and trained parents, that I dare say there would be a lot of volunteers, to go to the schools and blend in with the other teachers or workers.

      I am retired from the Dept. of Criminal Justice Service. Unfortunately I had a stroke a few months ago which prohibits me from volunteering, or I would be glad to donate my time.

    • Rod April 7, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

      An old saying goes “It’s Better to be Judged by 12, than Carried by 6

    • Darryl April 20, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      I agree with your comment 100% and I don’t leave my house without mine.

    • Bill September 19, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

      Actually, the Felons husband was a Felon, and became President. He was Pardoned by Jimmy Carter. But that did not make him legal to run. The corrupt Congress sat back and allowed it.
      And the current Illegal in the WH isn’t even a U.S. Citizen

  4. Ed April 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    I agree with George it’s my constitutional right to bear arms, to protect myself, to protect my family, protect my country from all foreign invaders! And now we have more women with permits than ever before to protect herself and the children when the man’s not with her! YOU GO GIRLS!!!

  5. James Andrews April 7, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    This map is not accurate, as some states have recently passed Constitutional Carry. I live in Maine; we became a Constitutional Carry state several months ago.

    • Jacob Paulsen April 7, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      Thanks James. I’m updating it now.

      • James Andrews April 7, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

        Thanks Jacob; I’m sure you are aware that the state of Idaho, as well as another state or two, are on the verge of passing it as well. I personally have not much of a problem with the permit system, but we all know that the reality is thta it won’t stop bad and dangerous thugs, gangs, drug dealers, or terrorists, form getting or carrying guns. It only works on law abiding ciiizens. I do not like the fact that my permit is not honored nationwide; it should be like a driver’s license, and be honored in every state, period.

        • Jacob Paulsen April 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

          I feel your pain there! Idaho’s law was signed by the Governor already. We’ll see how some of the other states end up…

      • Vern April 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

        Jacob,

        Would love to chat with you some time. I obtained my concealed carry here in Colorado. The training class I attended for my carry was absolutely worthless. I see a lot of them out there that are just as bad. I did find another, much better for a friend of mine. However, I would be interested in helping with the training aspect of concealed carry.

        • Jacob Paulsen April 7, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

          Sorry to hear your class was soo poor. Its the nature of the system for sure… with so much variety in styles and skills. Currently in Colorado we have 8 instructors including myself. Not opposed to chatting but admittedly we aren’t looking for more instructors on our team currently.

  6. George M. Hill April 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    Oklahoma now has constitutional carry. There was a time (in the 70’s) when we could wear our revolvers on our hips when riding our cycles. A writer for ROAD RIDER magazine met with me and a buddy of mine when we were riding with our wives on the Tahlahina Drive at a rest strop. He wrote an article, and took pictures …then he asked us to let him take picture WITHOUT the guns, because he thought ROAD RIDER magazine might not print the pictures with our guns ON… ROAD RIDER magazine PRINTED the article, and pictures WITh the guns ON!!!! I am proud of the coverage, and for ROAD RIDER mag for having the…guts to show resonable carry bY reasonable people.Thank you ROAD RIDER mag.

    • Jacob Paulsen April 7, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

      Thanks George. I had not included Oklahoma originally because it only applies to residents of Oklahoma or other states that allow constitutional carry. I just updated it to include Oklahoma and included a broad disclaimer below the map.

  7. Carroll Earl Griffin April 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    While I read about people that took an oath to protect and defend the CONSTITUTION, and then work hard to destroy it, I am truly happy to read about American heroes that ARE working hard to protect our CONSTITUTIONAL Rights by getting legislation passed such as CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY! Here in the great state of LOUISIANA we have open carry without permits, but a permit is still required to carry concealed. Hopefully some of our elected officials are true American Heroes and will work on passing CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY in our Great State!

  8. Jeff April 7, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

    I live in the liberal state of Maryland and I do have my conceal permit, although it took me almost 5 months to receive it. I do travel in Delaware and Virginia but still not sure why I can’t carry concealed in either state, if I’m wrong I can’t seem to find the correct place that tells me if I can?

  9. JIMMY April 8, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    I LIVE IN FLORIDA. WHAT, IF ANYTHING DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET A CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY LICENCE FROM OKLAHOMA?

    • Jacob Paulsen April 8, 2016 at 11:58 am #

      Jimmy, Oklahoma specifically only allows constitutional carry for residents of states who have constitutional carry. If you live in FL you need a FL permit to carry concealed in Oklahoma.

  10. Carey Baker April 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    This map indicates that you do not require a permit to carry concealed in Arkansas. That is incorrect. I just got my concealed carry permit last month.

  11. L&N nut April 11, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    Sent this email to My TN Reps. then posted it on facebook:

    http://cqrcengage.com/gunowners/app/write-a-letter…
    The TN Constitutional Carry bill is dead. Killed by greedy weasley politicians (That means you Sen. Todd “voting present not voting” Gardenhire (R-TN) ) who think its more important to “collect up all the fees” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO2eh6f5Go0 ) than advance freedom and liberty.
    Constitutional rights cannot be licensed or taxed.
    That is why, as a voting constituent and member of Gun Owners of America, I am asking you to support and vote for SB 1483 and HB 1748, Constitutional Carry for Tennessee.
    Constitutional Carry simply means anyone legally allowed to carry a firearm does not need to register with the state, seek permission slips or pay taxes on a constitutional right. It not only restores our rights, it makes our state safer.
    I, and other Gun Owners of America members, will be watching your vote.

  12. Darryl April 20, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    I’ll be glad when we get constitutional carry here in Texas.

    • Skip Plummer April 20, 2016 at 11:37 am #

      Some cities and counties in TX do have permitless concealed carry. You can look that up online.

      • Bruce September 15, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

        Texas needs to get CC passed in the next legislative session. It just don’t make sense to be required to have a license to exercise a constitutional right.

  13. Jill Calkins September 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    Missouri’s legislature just overturned the Governor’s veto of CC on Sept 14, to go into effect on January 1, 2017. You’ll have to update your map to reflect that. 🙂

  14. Dan Indiana May 28, 2017 at 9:09 pm #

    I assumed if my state had constitutional carry and left, I may get hit if I leave the state, there’s plenty of articles warning about that. I, however, have not seen many commenting in blogs or articles…If I go to a constitutional carry state and my states permit was previously not accepted in such state can I now carry? I assume it’s different state to state, but does the constitutional carry generally cover non residents?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 29, 2017 at 8:16 am #

      Dan, you are correct. It is different from state to state but generally states with constitutional carry do extend that right to visiting non-residents. Its worth researching on a state by state basis.

  15. Jimbo June 16, 2017 at 12:18 am #

    It should be against federal law to include the following on a concealed carry license or drivers license:

    Street address
    Date of Birth
    Social Security number

    Why should it be illegal? Because if you lose that piece of plastic then whoever finds it has your home address and if your keys happened to be with the license then they have those, and if it’s a CC license then they know it’s likely there are guns in that home putting the community at risk. Also, providing that unnecessary data would make it easier for identity thieves to hack your identity. This personal data should only be viewable by law enforcement on their computers; and if their computers are like the rest of the government’s computers are probably easily hacked.

Leave a Reply