In 2022, four states — Alabama, Ohio, Indiana and Georgia — passed constitutional carry or permitless carry laws, making them the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th states to do so. Fifty percent of U.S. states have passed laws permitting constitutional carry or permitless carry in the last two decades. Which states will be next in 2023?
What Is Constitutional Carry?
When a state does not prohibit individuals who can legally possess a firearm from carrying handguns it is called constitutional carry. When a state allows constitutional carry but individuals must meet certain qualifications to legally carry, it is referred to as permitless carry. For instance, Tennessee does not allow an individual to carry without a permit if he or she has received a DUI in the last five years or two or more in the last 10 years.
Constitutional carry or permitless carry has been on the rise in the last 20 years. Alaska was the first state to pass it in 2003. This was followed by Arizona and Wyoming (2010); Kansas, Maine, and Mississippi (2015); Idaho, Missouri, and West Virginia (2016); New Hampshire and North Dakota (2017); Arkansas (2018); Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Dakota (2019); Iowa, Tennessee, Texas, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming (2021); and Alabama, Ohio, Indiana and Georgia (2022). Vermont has been a constitutional carry state since 1793, with it written in its constitution. Nineteen of the 25 states (or 76 percent) have adopted constitutional carry or permitless carry in the last six years.
Which States Allow Constitutional Concealed Carry?
There are currently 25 constitutional carry or permitless carry states. These states include:
*(PC-[18/21]) refers to the age at which one may carry without a permit.
Alabama (PC-21 as of January 1, 2023)
Georgia (PC-21 and 18 for members of the military as of April 12, 2022)
Indiana (PC-18 as of July 1, 2022)
Maine (permits recognized; see Maine reciprocity section for details or PC-21)
Missouri (PC-19 or 18 for members of the military)
New Hampshire (PC-18)
North Dakota (PC-18 for residents only and concealed carry only)
Ohio (PC-21 as of June 12, 2022)
Oklahoma (PC-21 or 18 for military)
South Dakota (PC-18)
Tennessee (PC-18* or 18 for members of the military)
West Virginia (PC-21)
Regardless of the concealed carry gun laws in your state, a critical self-defense incident demands appropriate training. Learn the laws in your state and gain the skills you need with a USCCA Concealed Carry class.
Is Tennessee Really a Constitutional Carry State?
Tennessee’s 2021 constitutional carry law may not be unrestricted after all.
It created a statutory affirmative defense to a criminal charge of carrying a firearm with the intent to go armed.
Therefore, the burden is on the resident to prove to a law enforcement officer or a jury that his or her conduct satisfies all the conditions in the law.
Likewise, a law enforcement officer can disregard affirmative defenses when deciding to detain, arrest or charge an individual. Law enforcement officers currently have the right to stop and question a responsibly armed citizen only because he or she in armed.
You can read more about Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris’ findings and this flawed law here.
Constitutional Carry in Alabama, Ohio and Indiana
On March 10, 2022, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed House Bill 272 into law, making Alabama the 22nd constitutional carry state. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
“Unlike states who are doing everything in their power to make it harder for law-abiding citizens, Alabama is reaffirming our commitment to defending our Second Amendment rights,” Gov. Ivey said in a press release. “I have always stood up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and I am proud to do that again today.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed Senate Bill 215 into law on March 14, 2022. It went into effect on June 12, 2022.
“About half the states now have this provision,” Gov. DeWine told reporters, “and this is consistent with the United States Constitution.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) of Indiana signed HB 1296 on March 21, 2022. The law went into effect on July 1, 2022.
“The Second Amendment has been debated for years, yet time and again our U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed this important constitutional right that I fully support,” Gov. Holcomb stated. “Twenty-three other states have laws comparable to HEA 1296. Vermont has had a constitutional carry law in place since it became a state, and several other states have had a similar law for more than a decade. HEA 1296, which I’ve signed today, entrusts Hoosiers who can lawfully carry a handgun to responsibly do so within our State.”
Nebraska on the Brink of Concealed Carry Without a Permit
On Jan. 5, 2022, Sen. Tom Brewer (R-43) of Nebraska introduced Legislative Bill 773. The bill would remove the need for an individual to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon and prohibit regulation by cities, villages and counties.
“Concealed carry gives you the ability to protect yourself and your family and to do that in a way that no one else feels threatened — and again — this is a right, not a privilege,” Brewer stated. “Currently in the state of Nebraska, it is legal to open carry. Not an issue. But if you put on your coat and cover your firearm, you are now a criminal.”
Sen. Brewer’s constitutional carry bill was indefinitely postponed in April.
“The very first bill that I will drop in the next session will be constitutional carry,” the Nebraska senator stated in 2022. “What the decision today has done has helped us to better shine a light on why it’s important, and to take away some of the concerns folks had about legalities.”
On Jan. 5, 2023, Sen. Brewer announced he would reintroduce the constitutional carry bill this legislative session. He has 25 co-sponsors and is confident that it will pass this year.
“That’s a pretty good place to be when you drop a bill,” Brewer stated.
On Jan. 26, he will introduce the bill (LB 77) to the Judiciary Committee.
Florida Lawmakers Introduce Constitutional Carry Bill
On Jan. 30, 2023, House Speaker Paul Renner (R-19) and other lawmakers introduced HB 543, which would allow concealed carry of weapons and firearms without a license.
“We need to make sure that we put guns in the hands of law-abiding men and women who have the right to defend themselves and defend others,” Renner declared.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said he supports constitutional carry in Florida.
“Basically, this was something that I’ve always supported,” DeSantis stated. “The last two years, it was not necessarily a priority for the legislative leadership. But we’ve been talking about it, and he’s (Renner’s) pledged publicly that’s moving forward, and it’ll be something that will be done in the regular session.”
Which State Is Next?
Half of U.S. states have adopted constitutional carry or permitless carry. Most states have passed laws in the last 10 years. Will your state be next? Write your legislators advocating for it, and show you support by writing opinion pieces for your local paper. We all can play a part. Maybe next year your state will make the list. Also, arm yourself with knowledge if gun laws change in your state. Ignorance is never an excuse.
What questions do you have about state gun laws? Let us know how we can help in the comments below!
*In April 2021, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) sued the state of Tennessee for prohibiting 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying a concealed firearm in public or from obtaining a permit, stating that these restrictions were unconstitutional. On Jan. 23, 2023, attorneys for the state of Tennessee entered into an agreed order in federal court with the FPC. The order stipulates that the state’s restrictions were unconstitutional and that they will no longer be enforced. The order immediately went into effect.