WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “MAY ISSUE”, “SHALL ISSUE”, “NO ISSUE” AND “UNRESTRICTED” CONCEALED CARRY LAWS?

August 29, 2016

Concealed carry laws or CCW laws establish the rules for carrying a concealed handgun or firearm in public. State governments set the laws regarding concealed carry. There is no federal law that specifically governs the issuance of CCW permits or regulations that cover carrying a concealed weapon. Concealed carry laws vary from state to state and can have many variations. How a state permits concealed carry will fall under one of 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-The state must issue a permit to those applicants that meet the requirements, but there is no need for the applicant to demonstrate “ justifiable reason to carry a gun”. 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 “justifiable reason to carry a gun”.  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.

Most states honor permits or licenses issued by other jurisdictions as long as they have comparable standards, but you should check with your state and whatever state you plan to travel to  be sure your permit will be honored.

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.

Make sure you know the laws in your state before you apply for a concealed carry license. Check the laws out here: http://www.nationalcarryacademy.com/state-laws.


Nancy ThorneNancy Thorne is founder and principal of Thorne Business Research. With more than 30 years experience as an information research and writing professional in small business, trade associations and large corporate environments. She has expertise in writing blog posts, articles, newsletters and reports for a diverse group of clients in a wide variety of industries. Prior to becoming an independent writer and information professional, Ms. Thorne held research and analytical positions with Bank of America and Citicorp and was a licensed teacher of English.