Special Report

The Law for Carrying Firearms in Public in Every State

Erich Schlegel / Getty Images News via Getty Images

Earlier this month, America observed a grim 10th anniversary, the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed 20 children aged 6- and 7-years old and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before taking his own life. It was one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. (These are the deadliest mass shootings since the Columbine massacre.)

The Sandy Hook tragedy, and other mass shootings after it, touched off heated debates over gun ownership rights in the U.S. Complicating the issue is the fact that each state has its own gun laws.

24/7 Wall reviewed permit laws in each state governing concealed and open firearm carry compiled by the Giffords Law Center, a gun violence prevention organization. Laws are current as of July 2022 unless otherwise noted. We only reviewed laws at the state level, but laws can vary in local jurisdictions as well. We also reviewed FBI firearm background checks in 2021, a proxy for gun sales. Gun sales are adjusted per 100,000 people using population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.

In January 2023, Alabama will join the 24 other states that currently do not require any permits to carry a gun in public. This is part of a recent trend. Similar legislation was enacted in recent years by Indiana, Georgia, and Ohio. Eight of these 25 states had the highest gun sales per 100,000 people (using firearm background checks as a proxy) in 2021, led by Kentucky. 

Illinois, where open gun carry is prohibited and concealed carry is allowed with permit only, had the most firearm background checks in 2021, at nearly 8.5 million, and the second most per 100,000 people. Illinois is one of eight states that recorded more than 1 million firearm background checks in 2021.

Besides Illinois, there are three states that forbid open carry and allow concealed carry with permit only – California, Florida, and New York. (These are the 24 states where gun related crimes are surging.)

Hawaii had the fewest firearm background checks per 100,000 people in 2021. The states where the fewest guns were sold, as estimated by background checks per 100,000, are all in the Northeast: New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Click here to see the law for carrying firearms in public in every state.

Alabama
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry (effective Jan. 1, 2023)
> State governor: Gov. Kay Ivey, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 946,271 (18,776 per 100,000 people – 5th most)

[in-text-ad]

Alaska
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Republican (assumed office in 2018)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 91,207 (12,449 per 100,000 people – 13th most)

Arizona
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Doug Ducey, Republican (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 563,763 (7,748 per 100,000 people – 17th fewest)

Arkansas
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Republican (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 288,706 (9,541 per 100,000 people – 24th most)

[in-text-ad-2]

California
> Firearm carry laws: Open carry prohibited, concealed carry with permit only
> State governor: Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 1,476,073 (3,762 per 100,000 people – 6th fewest)

Colorado
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Jared Polis, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 628,811 (10,819 per 100,000 people – 18th most)

[in-text-ad]

Connecticut
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Ned Lamont, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 277,250 (7,689 per 100,000 people – 16th fewest)

Delaware
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. John C. Carney Jr., Democratic (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 69,068 (6,884 per 100,000 people – 11th fewest)

Florida
> Firearm carry laws: Open carry prohibited, concealed carry with permit only
> State governor: Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 1,711,685 (7,859 per 100,000 people – 19th fewest)

[in-text-ad-2]

Georgia
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Brian Kemp, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 806,912 (7,472 per 100,000 people – 14th fewest)

Hawaii
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Joshua Green, Democratic (assumed office in 2022)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 17,707 (1,228 per 100,000 people – the fewest)

[in-text-ad]

Idaho
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Brad Little, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 273,762 (14,402 per 100,000 people – 9th most)

Illinois
> Firearm carry laws: Open carry prohibited, concealed carry with permit only
> State governor: Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 8,474,505 (66,879 per 100,000 people – 2nd most)

Indiana
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Eric Holcomb, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 1,815,531 (26,676 per 100,000 people – 4th most)

[in-text-ad-2]

Iowa
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Kim Reynolds, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 266,678 (8,352 per 100,000 people – 21st fewest)

Kansas
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Laura Kelly, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 230,168 (7,843 per 100,000 people – 18th fewest)

[in-text-ad]

Kentucky
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Andy Beshear, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 3,848,061 (85,334 per 100,000 people – the most)

Louisiana
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. John Bel Edwards, Democratic (assumed office in 2016)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 401,345 (8,680 per 100,000 people – 22nd fewest)

Maine
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Janet T. Mills, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 129,193 (9,415 per 100,000 people – 25th fewest)

[in-text-ad-2]

Maryland
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Larry Hogan, Republican (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 267,753 (4,343 per 100,000 people – 7th fewest)

Massachusetts
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Charles D. Baker, Republican (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 259,248 (3,712 per 100,000 people – 5th fewest)

[in-text-ad]

Michigan
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 970,990 (9,661 per 100,000 people – 23rd most)

Minnesota
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Tim Walz, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 945,299 (16,563 per 100,000 people – 6th most)

Mississippi
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Tate Reeves, Republican (assumed office in 2020)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 323,319 (10,960 per 100,000 people – 15th most)

[in-text-ad-2]

Missouri
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Mike Parson, Republican (assumed office in 2018)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 634,191 (10,282 per 100,000 people – 22nd most)

Montana
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Greg Gianforte, Republican (assumed office in 2021)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 160,640 (14,547 per 100,000 people – 8th most)

[in-text-ad]

Nebraska
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Pete Ricketts, Republican (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 90,676 (4,618 per 100,000 people – 8th fewest)

Nevada
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Steve Sisolak, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 186,578 (5,934 per 100,000 people – 9th fewest)

New Hampshire
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Chris Sununu, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 151,853 (10,933 per 100,000 people – 16th most)

[in-text-ad-2]

New Jersey
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Phil Murphy, Democratic (assumed office in 2018)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 223,437 (2,411 per 100,000 people – 3rd fewest)

New Mexico
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 194,989 (9,216 per 100,000 people – 23rd fewest)

[in-text-ad]

New York
> Firearm carry laws: Open carry prohibited, concealed carry with permit only
> State governor: Gov. Kathy Hochul, Democratic (assumed office in 2021)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 464,575 (2,342 per 100,000 people – 2nd fewest)

North Carolina
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Roy Cooper, Democratic (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 781,733 (7,409 per 100,000 people – 13th fewest)

North Dakota
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Doug Burgum, Republican (assumed office in 2016)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 80,546 (10,394 per 100,000 people – 21st most)

[in-text-ad-2]

Ohio
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Richard Michael DeWine, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 851,887 (7,232 per 100,000 people – 12th fewest)

Oklahoma
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Kevin Stitt, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 416,514 (10,448 per 100,000 people – 20th most)

[in-text-ad]

Oregon
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Kate Brown, Democratic (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 454,133 (10,695 per 100,000 people – 19th most)

Pennsylvania
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Tom Wolf, Democratic (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 1,408,165 (10,862 per 100,000 people – 17th most)

Rhode Island
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Daniel McKee, Democratic (assumed office in 2021)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 37,936 (3,463 per 100,000 people – 4th fewest)

[in-text-ad-2]

South Carolina
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for both open & concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Henry McMaster, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 485,487 (9,353 per 100,000 people – 24th fewest)

South Dakota
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Kristi L. Noem, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 106,881 (11,937 per 100,000 people – 14th most)

[in-text-ad]

Tennessee
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Bill Lee, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 964,512 (13,828 per 100,000 people – 10th most)

Texas
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Greg Abbott, Republican (assumed office in 2015)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 1,980,753 (6,708 per 100,000 people – 10th fewest)

Utah
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Spencer Cox, Republican (assumed office in 2021)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 1,181,564 (35,398 per 100,000 people – 3rd most)

[in-text-ad-2]

Vermont
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Phil Scott, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 51,549 (7,985 per 100,000 people – 20th fewest)

Virginia
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Republican (assumed office in 2022)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 655,339 (7,583 per 100,000 people – 15th fewest)

[in-text-ad]

Washington
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Jay Inslee, Democratic (assumed office in 2013)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 736,846 (9,522 per 100,000 people – 25th most)

West Virginia
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Jim Justice, Republican (assumed office in 2017)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 224,240 (12,577 per 100,000 people – 12th most)

Wisconsin
> Firearm carry laws: Permit required for concealed carry only, no permit for open carry
> State governor: Gov. Tony Evers, Democratic (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 785,856 (13,329 per 100,000 people – 11th most)

[in-text-ad-2]

Wyoming
> Firearm carry laws: No permit required for open or concealed carry
> State governor: Gov. Mark Gordon, Republican (assumed office in 2019)
> Firearm background checks (proxy for sales), 2021: 84,624 (14,621 per 100,000 people – 7th most)

ALERT: Today Could Be Your Best Shot At Early Retirement (Sponsored)

If you want to retire before 65, pay attention. Study after study has shown that the longer you stay invested, the better your chances at an early retirement.

Every day that goes by without saving and investing for tomorrow means more to earn and save later. Don’t waste any more time and get started with Robinhood today. The app makes it easy to buy and sell stocks, mutual funds, trade options, and even cryptocurrencies.

Sign up today using the link below or click here to start your journey.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.