While our nation’s overall concealed carry landscape is a patchwork of frustrating laws many Americans struggle to navigate, it is heartening to know that 12 states makes things easy by allowing law-abiding residents to carry guns without any bureaucratic interference.
This means 12 states recognize the Second Amendment as your concealed carry permit. The states are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
A brief overview of the carry laws of the permitless carry states follows:
Alaska–Alaska did away with its concealed carry permit requirement in 2003. The NRA-ILA sums up Alaska’s carry law: “Any person 21 years of age or older may carry a handgun concealed on their person provided that, when contacted by a police officer, informs the officer of that possession and allows the police officer to secure the handgun for the duration of that contact.”
Arizona–On April 16, 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed legislation abolishing a concealed carry permit requirement in Arizona. The law allows law-abiding citizens 21-years and older to carry a concealed handgun on their persons for self-defense. Arizonans have the option to carry their handgun openly without a permit if they so choose, and it is not uncommon to be line at a burger joint and see the guy in front of you carrying one of the Kimber 1911s or a Glock 19 in plain sight.
Idaho–On March 25, 2016, Gov. Butch Otter (R) signed legislation which did away with a permit requirement for concealed carry. KTVB reported that Otter released a letter subsequent to the signing in which he stressed that permitless carry “is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.”
Kansas–On April 2, 2015, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed legislation abolishing the requirement for a concealed carry license in Kansas. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Moms Demand Action’s TerMiller as saying her group “spoke out against this dangerous setback for public safety [but] Governor Brownback ignored [them].”
Maine–On July 8, 2015, Gov. Paul LaPage (R) signed legislation abolishing Maine’s concealed carry permit requirement. The legislation was sponsored by Eric Brakey (R-Auburn), who pointed to the inconsistency in Maine’s laws, inasmuch as Maine allowed open carry without a permit but required residents to acquire government documentation before carrying in the event that their jacket covered their gun. He said, “When someone with a credible death threat against them has to wait for months before they can carry legally and defend themselves with their jacket on, that says it is not working.”
Mississippi–On April 15, 2016, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed permitless carry legislation into law for Mississippi. Breitbart News reported that the new law expanded previous permitless provisions from carry in backpacks and satchels only to carry in “belt and shoulder holsters” as well.
Missouri–On September 14, 2016, Missouri lawmakers overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) veto and abolished a concealed carry permit requirement in the state. The permitless carry legislation–SB 656–was sponsored state Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-18). He pointed out SB 656 would “allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.”
New Hampshire–On February 22, 2017, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed legislation abolishing a permit requirement for concealed carry in New Hampshire. Open carry without a permit was already legal in the state and those who permitless concealed carry argued that they were just making the laws congruent. After the bill was signed, Fox News quoted Sununu saying, “This is about making sure that our laws on our books are keeping people safe while remaining true to the live-free-or-die spirit.”
North Dakota–On March 23, 2017, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed legislation abolishing the concealed carry permit requirement for North Dakota. After the the legislation was signed the West Fargo Pioneer quoted Burgum saying, “North Dakota has a rich heritage of hunting and a culture of deep respect for firearm safety. As a hunter and gun owner myself, I strongly support gun rights for law-abiding citizens. House Bill 1169 allows citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution.”
West Virginia–The West Virginia House overrode Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s (D) veto of permitless carry legislation on March 4, 2016. The state Senate overrode it on March 5. Ninety days later permitless carry took effect in West Virginia.
Wyoming–Wyoming abolished its concealed carry permit requirement in 2011. The state allows residents to carry openly or concealed without a permit.
It should be noted that the 11 states listed above each issue concealed carry permits for those wanting them for reciprocity purposes. This allows residents who carry in their home states to maintain the ability to cross state lines and carry in stats that have reciprocal permit recognition. One exception to the issuance of permits is Vermont, the last state on our list of 12:
Vermont–Vermont does not have a concealed carry permit requirement nor does the state issue a concealed carry permit for those who might want one. Rather, the NRA-ILA reports that Vermont’s law on carrying is simple: “It is lawful to carry a firearm openly or concealed provided the firearm is not carried with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man. It is unlawful to carry a firearm within any state institution or upon the grounds or lands owned or leased by such institution.”
FBI crime stats for three of the states that abolished permit requirements–Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming–show that handgun murders dropped after the permit requirements were abolished. And this makes sense, as a greater freedom to exercise Second Amendment rights means more law-abiding citizens can be armed for self-defense. So while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continue to drag their feet on national reciprocity, the reality of permitless carry in 12 states is a reassuring one.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org