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.

Source: Barry Lewis / In Pictures via Getty Images

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)

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Source: specnaz-s / iStock via Getty Images

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)

Source: Marc Lecureuil / Getty Images

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)

Source: artas / iStock via Getty Images

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)

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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)

Source: mtcurado / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

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)

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Source: JOE KLAMAR / AFP via Getty Images

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)

Source: Patrick Smith / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: Joe Raedle / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Karl Weatherly / Photodisc via Getty Images

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)

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images

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)

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Source: lynngrae / iStock via Getty Images

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)

Source: artas / iStock via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: Mario Villafuerte / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: Portland Press Herald / Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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)

Source: Boston Globe / Boston Globe via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: skhoward / iStock via Getty Images

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)

Source: CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

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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)

Source: DOMINICK REUTER / AFP via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: JannHuizenga / iStock via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Marco_Piunti / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

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)

Source: Brian Blanco / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: Mike Kemp / In Pictures via Getty Images

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)

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Source: hiramtom / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

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)

Source: SETH HERALD / AFP via Getty Images

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)

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Source: ROB KERR / AFP via Getty Images

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)

Source: aquarajiv / iStock via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Richard Ellis / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: picture alliance / picture alliance via Getty Images

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)

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Source: krblokhin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

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)

Source: Erich Schlegel / Getty Images News via Getty Images

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)

Source: GEORGE FREY / AFP via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Courtesy of Powderhorn Outdoor Sports Center via Yelp

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)

Source: AFP Contributor / AFP via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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)

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Source: Ted Soqui / Getty Images

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)

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