No permit is needed to purchase a firearm from a private individual, there is no waiting period, and there is no firearms registration in the state. A background check is required if purchasing a handgun from a Federal Firearms Dealer.
Open carry is legal in Kentucky without a permit for anyone at least 18 years of age that is not prohibited from carrying a firearm. Some areas are off-limits, including businesses primarily devoted to the sale of alcohol.
Kentucky is now a constitutional carry state so concealed carry is legal for anyone at least 21 years old who can legally possess a firearm without a license/permit. Those wanting to conceal carry out-of-state will still need to get a conceal carry permit. Kentucky concealed carry permits are referred to as Concealed Carry of Deadly Weapons (CCDW) licenses, and they apply to not only handguns but also knives, clubs, blackjacks, nunchaku, shuriken and brass knuckles. Successful completion of a firearms training course that has been state-approved is required to obtain a CCDW license. CCDW licenses are available to residents and military personnel stationed in Kentucky. Permits are not available for non-residents. In terms of reciprocity, Kentucky recognizes all currently valid concealed carry permits issued by other U.S. jurisdictions.
Kentucky is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the commission of a felony involving the use of force.
Use of Physical Force in Defense of Self or a Third Party The use of physical force by a person is justifiable when the person believes that such force is necessary to protect the person or a third party against the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force. The use of deadly force by a person is justifiable only when the person believes that such force is necessary to protect himself or a third party against imminent death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat, or other felony involving the use of force.
Defense of Dwelling, Residence or Occupied Vehicle A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm when using deadly force to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry upon such person’s dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle, or an attempt to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle.
Protection of Property The use of physical force by a person is justifiable when the person believes that such force is immediately necessary to prevent:
The commission of criminal trespass, robbery, burglary or other felony involving the use of force in a dwelling, building or upon real property in his or her possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection one acts; or
Theft, criminal mischief or any unlawful taking of tangible, movable property in his or her possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection one acts.
The use of deadly force by a defendant upon another person is justifiable only when the defendant believes that the person against whom such force is used is:
Attempting to dispossess him or her of the dwelling otherwise than under a claim of right to its possession;
Committing or attempting to commit a burglary, robbery or other felony involving the use of force; or
Committing or attempting to commit arson of a dwelling or other building in his or her possession.
Justification and Criminal and Civil Immunity A person who uses permitted force is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action, unless the person against whom the force was used is a peace officer.
Yes. Kentucky became a constitutional carry state as of July 1, 2019.
Open Carry Permitted?
Is open carry permitted in Kentucky?
Yes, without a permit. Any person who is at least 18 years old and legally entitled to carry a firearm can open carry.
Gun Permit Licensure?
If Kentucky requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?
Kentucky is a shall-issue state,
Minimum Age for Concealed Carry?
What is the minimum age in Kentucky to get a concealed carry permit?
The minimum age to carry a concealed handgun in Kentucky is 21.
Weapons Other Than Handguns Allowed?
Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Kentucky with a concealed carry permit (or under permitless carry if applicable)?
According to the Kentucky State Police, other items covered by the license include any knife other than an ordinary pocket or hunting knife, a nightstick or club, blackjack or slapjack, nunchaku, shuriken and artificial knuckles.
Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in Kentucky?
Yes, without a permit for anyone at least 21 years old and otherwise able to lawfully possess a firearm.
Kentucky allows any person at least 18 years old to possess a loaded or unloaded firearm in a vehicle in any enclosed container, compartment, or storage space installed as original equipment in a motor vehicle by its manufacturer, including but not limited to a glove compartment, center console, or seat pocket, regardless of whether said enclosed container, storage space, or compartment is locked, unlocked, or does not have a locking mechanism.
Can you carry a concealed firearm at roadside rest areas in Kentucky?
Yes. You may carry a concealed handgun at a roadside rest area in Kentucky.
Carry in State/National Parks, State/National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)?
Can you carry a concealed firearm in state/national parks, state/national forests and Wildlife Management Areas in Kentucky?
Yes, without a permit for anyone at least 21 years old and otherwise able to lawfully possess a firearm. See theNational Parks webpage for links to each Park in Kentucky.
Carry in Bars/Restaurants That Serve Alcohol?
Can you carry a concealed firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in Kentucky?
You may concealed carry in the dining area of a bona fide restaurant open to the general public having dining facilities for not less than 50 persons and which receives <50% of its annual food and beverage receipts from the sale of alcohol, but not in the bar area, unless posted. Carry is not allowed in bars.
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Kentucky?
Private businesses may prohibit concealed carry on their premises (not open carry) and shall post signs on or about the premises if carrying concealed weapons is prohibited. However, "facilities renting or leasing housing" are specifically prohibited from restricting concealed carry. The individual hotel should be contacted to inquire about it's concealed carry policy. See theHandguns at Hotels page for additional information.
Does Kentucky have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
No person, including but not limited to an employer, who is the owner, lessee, or occupant of real property shall prohibit any person who is legally entitled to possess a firearm from possessing a firearm, part of a firearm, ammunition, or ammunition component in a vehicle on the property.
Are "No Weapons Allowed" signs enforced in Kentucky? If yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.
No, unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in state law as being off-limits to those with a permit/license to carry.
Does Kentucky have preemption laws related to concealed carry (i.e. Does state law supersede local laws regarding the possession of handguns)?
Yes. There is state preemption of all gun laws with the exception that section 237.115(2) specifically authorizes the legislative bodies of city, county and urban-county governments to “prohibit or limit” the carrying of concealed deadly weapons by state licensees in those portions of a building actually owned, leased, or controlled by that government unit.
No definition of brandishing was found in Kentucky law. However, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct in the second degree when in a public place and with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or wantonly creating a risk thereof, he engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior.
Carry while using alcohol or prescription medication in Kentucky?
Does Kentucky have laws regarding carrying a concealed firearm while using alcohol or prescription medication?
Not addressed in state statutes.
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times, or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Does Kentucky issue concealed carry permits to non-residents?
Yes, only to members of the military on active duty assigned to a military post in Kentucky.
PUBLIC ACCESS TO CONCEALED CARRY REGISTRY?
Does Kentucky allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?
No, however the information is available for law enforcement.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Kentucky?
No. You are not required to have a permit to buy a handgun in Kentucky.
Background Checks for Private Gun Sales?
Are background checks required for private gun sales in Kentucky?
No. Private firearms transfers are not subject to a background check requirement, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions, including age restrictions, still apply. It is recommended that you retain any sales receipts to prove ownership of the gun.
Kentucky Permit Exempts from Background Check?
Does my current Kentucky concealed carry permit exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase a firearm?
Yes. Concealed Deadly Weapons Licenses (CCDW) and Judicial Special Status CCDW qualify.
Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in Kentucky?
No. There is no waiting period to buy a handgun in Kentucky.
Do handguns need to be registered in Kentucky?
No. handgun registration is not required in Kentucky.
Minimum Age to Possess and Transport?
What is the minimum age to possess and transport a handgun in Kentucky?
You must be at least 18 years old to possess or transport a handgun in Kentucky.
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State Constitutional Provision
All men are by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: ... 7) the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state, subject to the power of the general assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons."
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION - ARTICLE 1, SECTION 1, PARAGRAPH 7
Note: Firearms must be carried in accordance with the laws of the state you are visiting. Be sure to check the laws of the other state before traveling there with your firearms.
States That Have Restricted Reciprocity with Kentucky
Kentucky offers resident and non-resident (military on active duty assigned to a military post in Kentucky) permits. If indicated with “Resident only” below, that state only honors Kentucky resident permits (and not those issued to non-residents).
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
Kentucky issues non-resident permits only to members of the military on active duty assigned to a military post in Kentucky. The process is the same as for residents.
You are required to notify the Kentucky State Police within 30 days after the changing of a permanent address. Failure to do so is a noncriminal violation with a penalty of $25 payable to the clerk of the District Court. To change or update your address, you must complete a Carry Concealed Deadly Weapons Licensee Request for Change of Personal Information (KSP Form 121) at the office of the Sheriff of your county of residence. Once completed, the Sheriff will forward the information to the Kentucky State Police.
You must complete a Request for Duplicate CCDW License form at the office of the sheriff in your county of residence and provide a check or money order, payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer, in the amount of $15.00.
Moving to Kentucky and interested in applying for a resident license? How soon can you apply? Kentucky issues license to residents and active duty military stationed in Kentucky only. You can apply for your license to the sheriff of your county once you have established residency in Kentucky.
Moving from Kentucky and have a Kentucky resident license? Does that license transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your Kentucky license remains valid? If a person with a Kentucky concealed carry of deadly weapons license establishes residency in another state, the license expires upon the establishment of residence in the other state.
Firearms safety courses must be approved by the Department of Criminal Justice. Training shall:
Not exceed 8 hours in length;
Include instruction on handguns, the safe use of handguns, the care and cleaning of handguns, and handgun marksmanship principles;
Include actual range firing of a handgun in a safe manner, and the firing of not more than 20 rounds at a full-sized silhouette target, during which no fewer than 11 rounds must hit the silhouette portion of the target;
Include information on and a copy of laws relating to possession and carrying of firearms, as set forth in KRS Chapters 237 and 527, and the laws relating to the use of force, as set forth in KRS Chapter 503; and
Demonstrate knowledge of the law regarding the justifiable use of force by including with the application a copy of the concealed carry deadly weapons legal handout made available by the Department of Criminal Justice Training and a signed statement that indicates that the applicant has read and understands the handout.
Training Exemptions – Active or honorably discharged service members or a reserve component thereof, current and retired peace officers and corrections officers may meet criteria that will deem them to have met the training requirement. Persons seeking a training exemption may submit documentation with their application to “show evidence of handgun qualifications”. More information can be found on the Kentucky State Police CCDW Q&A page.
Not less than 120 days prior to the expiration date of a CCDW license, the Department of State Police will mail a written notice of the expiration and a renewal form to each licensee. If you fail to renew your license on or before the expiration date and wish to renew your license, you will be required to pay an additional late fee of $15.00. If 6 months or more has passed since the expiration date of your license, your license has permanently expired and cannot be renewed. If your license has permanently expired, you may reapply for a new license.
Take the renewal notice and a passport-style photograph to the Sheriff of your county of residence. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, the Citizenship Affidavit (KSP Form 131) must be completed and submitted to the sheriff of your county of residence to be attached to the renewal form.
Pay the $20 fee.
You will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs (RLEOs) may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
Kentucky Revised Statutes §§ 237.137 through 237.142 address RLEO carry requirements with the Kentucky State Police to administer the program. Certification requirements are included in KRS § 237.140. Qualified RLEOS may carry concealed firearms on or about their persons at all times and at any location within the Commonwealth where an on-duty peace officer is permitted to carry firearms. The KY State Police LEOSA website includes detailed information and links to application materials.
The following agencies of the Commonwealth make range facilities available no less than 4 days per year for firearms qualification by retired peace officers seeking certification:
Where Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Kentucky?
Carry in bars/restaurants that serve alcohol? You may concealed carry in the dining area of a bona fide restaurant, but not in the bar area, unless posted. Carry is not allowed in bars.
Carry in my vehicle without a permit/license? Yes.
Carry in roadside rest areas? Yes.
Carry in state/national parks, state/national forests, and WMAs? Yes.
Carry in places of worship? There is no State statute prohibiting concealed carry in places of worship. However, since places of worship are private property, they may post signs prohibiting firearms.
Where Can't I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Kentucky?
Places off-limits even with a permit/license
Any elementary or secondary school facility without the consent of school authorities, including school grounds, recreation areas, athletic fields, or any other property owned, used, or operated by any board of education, school, board of trustees, regents, or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution;
Any child-care facility, any day-care center or any certified family child-care home;
Any school bus;
Any police station or sheriff's office;
Any detention facility, prison or jail;
Any courthouse solely occupied by the Court of Justice courtroom, or court proceeding;
Any meeting of the governing body of a county, municipality or special district (if passed by local ordinance); or any meeting of the General Assembly or a committee of the General Assembly;
Any room where alcoholic beverages are being sold at a retail establishment licensed to sell alcohol “by the drink.” This prohibition does not apply to restaurants that are open to the public, have dining facilities for at least 50 people, and receive less than 50 percent of their annual food and beverage income from the sale of alcohol;
An area of an airport to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property;
Colleges, universities, technical schools and community colleges that have exercised their authority to limit the carrying of concealed weapons on property owned or controlled by them (check with each institution for specific allowances);
Private businesses who have exercised their authority to limit the carrying of concealed weapons on property owned or controlled by them (check with each business for specific allowances); and
Areas in which state and local governments have exercised their authority to limit the carrying of concealed weapons on property owned or controlled by them.
There are no banned knife types in Kentucky. It is legal for anyone over the age of 21 or in possession of a concealed weapon license to carry any knife. Possession of a knife is illegal in K-12 schools, school buses, athletic fields and recreational areas.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email [email protected] and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.
If you have any questions regarding USCCA Membership, Delta Defense, handguns laws or the lawful process of carrying concealed, please contact the award-winning Delta DefenseCustomer Engagement Team.
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