Open Carry

Open carry means to openly carry a gun in public where it is not hidden from common observation. Some states specify that open carry occurs when the weapon is “partially visible,” while others may require the weapon to be “fully visible” to be considered carried openly.

Open carry laws generally fall into one of four categories:

  • Permissive Open Carry States — Allow gun owners to openly carry a gun without a permit or license (includes Alaska, New Mexico and West Virginia)
  • Licensed Open Carry States — Allow gun owners to carry firearms openly only after they are issued a permit or license (includes Connecticut, Indiana and Utah) or open carry is not specifically addressed in state statutes, but a permit or license is required to carry a handgun (New Jersey and New York, while in Rhode Island, open carry is only allowed with a permit issued by the Attorney General)
  • Anomalous Open Carry States — Carrying a gun openly may be either generally lawful or illegal under state law, but local governments may have gun laws that differ from the state’s laws (California and Colorado)
  • Non-Permissive Open Carry States — Carrying a gun openly is against state law or is legal only in limited circumstances (e.g., while hunting) or when legally used for self-defense (includes the District of Columbia, New York and South Carolina)
Open Carry Without a Permit
Open Carry With a Permit
Open Carry Not Allowed
Allowed, But Local Authorities May Regulate

Related Articles From the USCCA Blog

Firearms Retention Starts with Concealment

Firearms Retention Starts with Concealment

Kevin Michalowski — May 19, 2017

Video Proof Open Carry Doesn’t Work

Video Proof Open Carry Doesn’t Work

Kevin Michalowski — May 16, 2016

Find Information on Open Carry and Gun Laws


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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. We make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. 

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