Concerning the issuing of concealed carry permits and/or licenses (called different things depending on the state you live in), there is a bit of confusion surrounding some of the terminology used. To help clear up some of this confusion, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a short list of these terms. So, what is the difference between shall issue, may issue, and constitutional carry?
The term Shall Issue is used in the industry to refer to states that have policies in place that require law enforcement or the designated governing body, issue permits to applicants who meet any requirements set forth by the law regardless of any arbitrary bias or discretion the issuing authority may have.
While some states give the issuing authority some discretion based on their intimate knowledge of the applicant's danger to society; most of these states are still considered Shall Issue states as they are not able to employ any arbitrary discretion.
In other words, you are likely to get your concealed carry permit in one of these states, usually with relative ease.
May Issue states are those that leave the discretion to the local authority to decide if they will issue the permit to the applicant or not regardless if the applicant has met the legal requirements to apply.
The likelihood of obtaining a permit in May Issue states, counties, or local municipalities varies from one to the next and is often influenced by social status or a demonstrated “need.”
In other words, you will have a harder time getting your permit in a May Issue state, and will usually need to have a reason for applying.
Constitutional Carry is the term most often used to refer to the right to carry concealed without an issued permit or license.
While it would be great if this is how it was across the entire country, there are still only a handful of these states.
And because that's how it is, living in one of these states doesn't come without its own set of problems, like if you were to travel to a state that requires a concealed carry permit. If you were to travel, you could get jammed up because you never ended up getting a permit.
Read more about it here: Constitutional Carry Deep Overview.
The best way to fix that problem, is to still get your permit, or at least get a non-resident concealed carry permit from a state that issues one.
Here are the top five non-resident permit states.
- 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
This is an update to the original article, published in June of 2015.