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. Subsequently, in April 2023, Florida and Nebraska joined them, becoming the 26th and 27th constitutional carry states. Over the past two decades, more than 50 percent of U.S. states have passed laws allowing for constitutional carry or permitless carry. Which states will be next?

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.

Over the last 20 years, there has been a notable surge in constitutional carry or permitless carry legislation across the United States. Alaska was the first state to pass it in 2003. This was followed by Arizona (2010); Wyoming (2011); 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 and Utah (2021); Alabama, Ohio, Indiana and Georgia (2022); and Florida and Nebraska (2023). Vermont has been a constitutional carry state since 1793, explicitly stated in its constitution. Fourteen of the 27 states, or 52 percent, have adopted constitutional carry or permitless carry in the last five years.

How Are May-Issue and Shall-Issue States Different?

May-issue states exercise discretion when issuing concealed weapons permits. Residents in these states must fulfill all requirements, such as background checks and training, but the issuance of a permit is not guaranteed. Despite this uncertainty, many may-issue states have relatively straightforward processes for obtaining a concealed carry permit

The June 2022 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen abolished may issue. However, despite this ruling, some states, like New York, are issuing criteria that don’t align with the decision.

On the other hand, in a shall-issue state, meeting all requirements ensures the issuance of a license. Although this process is generally easier than in a may-issue state, it still involves an application process and some waiting time.

Which States Allow Constitutional Carry?

There are currently 27 constitutional carry or permitless carry states.* These states are:

Alabama (PC-21)
Alaska (PC-21)
Arizona (PC-21)
Arkansas (PC-18)
Florida (PC-21)
Georgia (PC-21 and 18 for members of the military)
Idaho (PC-18)
Indiana (PC-18)
Iowa (PC-21)
Kansas (PC-21)
Kentucky (PC-21)
Maine (permits recognized; see Maine reciprocity section for details or PC-21)
Mississippi (PC-18)
Missouri (PC-19 or 18 for members of the military)
Montana (PC-18)
Nebraska (PC-21)
New Hampshire (PC-18)
North Dakota (PC-18 for residents only and concealed carry only)
Ohio (PC-21)
Oklahoma (PC-21 or 18 for military)
South Dakota (PC-18)
Tennessee (PC-18** or 18 for members of the military)
Texas (PC-21)
Utah (PC-21)
Vermont (PC-18)
West Virginia (PC-21)
Wyoming (PC-21)

*“PC-18” or “PC-21” denotes the age at which an individual is allowed to carry without the need for a permit.

**In April 2021, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed a lawsuit against the state of Tennessee challenging the constitutionality of prohibiting 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying a concealed firearm in public or obtaining a permit. On Jan. 23, 2023, attorneys for the state of Tennessee reached an agreed order with the FPC in federal court. The order declares that the state’s restrictions were unconstitutional, and they will no longer be enforced. This order took immediate effect.

A map of the United States showing the states that allow concealed carry without a permit.

Is Tennessee Really a Constitutional Carry State?

Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director and Attorney John Harris discovered that Tennessee’s 2021 constitutional carry law may not be as unrestricted as initially thought.***

Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-17-1307(a) prohibits firearm possession “with the intent to go armed,” even on a resident’s property or in his or her home, even with a permit. On April 8, 2021, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed House Bill 786 into law, effective July 1, 2021. This bill introduced a statutory “exception” to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-17-1307(g) and (h), creating an affirmative defense to the criminal charge of carrying a firearm with the intent to go armed. Therefore, residents must prove to law enforcement or a jury that their conduct meets all the conditions outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-17-1307(g) and (h). This means that, alarmingly, an individual carrying a firearm with the intent to go armed is presumptively considered to have committed a crime under current Tennessee law.

Additionally, law enforcement officers have the authority to ignore affirmative defenses when deciding to detain, arrest or charge an individual, allowing them to stop and question a responsibly armed citizen simply because he or she is armed.

***Read John Harris’ article titled “Tennessee Does Not Have Real Constitutional Carry — The Talking Points” by clicking here.

What Does Constitutional Carry Mean for Gun Owners?

Constitutional carry grants the right to carry a gun without needing a permit, but it doesn’t exempt you from the responsibility of firearms ownership. Remember, you are accountable for every action you take and every round discharged from the muzzle. Constitutional carry doesn’t relieve you of this responsibility. Therefore, ensure you receive proper training and are well-versed in the relevant state gun laws to act responsibly and lawfully. Ignorance is never an excuse.

Learn about your state’s gun laws in Concealed Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals

What State Will Be the Next to Adopt Constitutional Carry?

Over half of the U.S. states have embraced constitutional carry or permitless carry, with the majority passing such laws in the last decade. What state will be next? Louisiana? North Carolina? South Carolina? You can advocate for change by writing to your legislators and expressing your support through opinion pieces in local newspapers. We all have a role in influencing these laws.

Check back for updates on the introduction of constitutional carry legislation in other states.

2024 Constitutional Carry Updates

South Carolina (last updated Feb. 14, 2024)

The South Carolina Senate voted to approve H. 3594, but it was sent back to the House of Representatives for final approval. The House rejected the amendments and proposed a “clean bill,” sending it back to the Senate. If approved by the Senate, the constitutional carry bill will then proceed to Gov. Henry McMaster (R) for his final approval.

Louisiana (last updated Feb. 22, 2024)

On Feb. 22, the Louisiana Senate voted to approve SB 1. The constitutional carry bill will now head to the House of Representatives for final approval. Gov. Jeff Landry (R) assured lawmakers he would sign the bill into law if it passes both legislative bodies.