CCW or carrying a concealed weapon laws establish the rules for carrying a handgun or weapon in public in a concealed manner. There is no federal law that specifically addresses the issuance of concealed carry permits. Thus it is up to the state governments to set the laws. Because of this, concealed carry laws vary from state to state. Here are some of the ways the CCW laws vary by state:
Permitting policies- States determine how they will permit. Usually it falls into four categories:
- Unrestricted- This means that a permit is not required to carry a concealed handgun. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont and Wyoming allow residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
- Shall-Issue- This is an area where a permit is required, but that is subject only to meeting determinate criteria, there is no need for the applicant to demonstrate “good cause”. Requirements may include things like residency, fingerprinting, background check, taking a handgun safety class, and the like. Some states fall into more than one category. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are shall-issue states.
- May-Issue- A permit is required to carry, and those permits are granted partially at the discretion of local authorities. In this case, criteria have to be met, and the applicant typically must have “good cause”. May-issue states include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
- No-Issue: These are jurisdictions where with few exceptions, private citizens are not allowed to carry concealed hand-guns in public. No permits are issued or recognized. DC is such a place. While technically May-Issue under state law, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, and certain cities and counties within California and New York are No-Issue jurisdictions.
Illinois had a ban on concealed weapons, but it was overturned recently, and they were required by the court to draft a concealed carry law by July 9, 2013, and the Illinois legislature approved concealed carry to begin January 2014, at the latest.
Limitations: States often set limitations on CCW permits, For example, Texas, New Mexico, and Massachusetts limits the type and caliber of handguns. New York places restrictions on places where the permit is valid, as well as magazine size. Some states place limitations on the number of firearms that may be carried concealed at a time.
Reciprocity: If you get a permit in one jurisdiction, do you have to have a different permit for a different jurisdiction? It depends! Many jurisdictions honor permits or licenses issued by other jurisdictions as long as they have comparable standards. Check with your jurisdiction.
Which weapons are included: Not all weapons that fall under CCW controls are lethal. Florida, for example, requires a CCW permit to carry pepper spray that is more than 2 ounces.
Training requirements: Some states require certain training and safety instruction to be completed before issuance of a permit. This training is to certify proficiency with a firearm The National Rifle Association has established some courses that combine classroom and live-fire instruction, which typically meet state training requirements. There are exceptions to the requirement, for example, there are some states that will recognize prior military or police service as meeting training requirements.
What it is called: There are different terms for the licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms. Including: Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL)
Whether it is for concealed or open carry: Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun. Other states require separate permits or licenses.
Grounds for revocation: in most states revocation is based on police record. A gross misdemeanor or felony would result in revocation, such as a DUI. Most states have revocation based on expiration of a time-limited permit without renewal.
Restricted premises: The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act limits where an unlicensed person may carry; carry of a weapon, openly or concealed, within 1000 feet of a school zone is prohibited. Exceptions are granted in the Federal law to holders of valid State-issued weapons permits. The state laws determine whether or not permit holders can carry in school zones. Often current and honorably retired law enforcement officers are exempt from this.
As you can see, there are many variations, the best way to find out what laws apply to you is to learn the laws for your specific state, and anywhere you intend to carry.