Shall Issue: These states require a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun. The criteria of these states is objective and unbiased to eliminate any discretion. The State’s issuing body is compelled to issue or renew the permit or license as long as the applicant or licensees meets the criteria.
Unrestricted: These states have no license or permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun. The only prerequisite being that the individual can legally possess a firearm.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution
May Issue: These states also require a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun; however, many have no dedicated state-level body assigned to make the decisions. The authority to issue is typically granted to city or county governments. More often than not, the body making the decision is the County’s Sherriff Department. Issuance in these states can range from Shall Issue in rural areas to No-Issue in many metropolitan areas. The latitude exercised by many of these municipalities has shown that without active or prior law enforcement experience or some type of political connection, the everyday law abiding citizen stands little chance of approval.
No Issue: As of July 2013, there no “No issue” or “Right Denied” states remain. These states, with very few exceptions, had no law or statute addressing the legal carry of concealed handguns in public by law abiding citizens. The final hold-out as of 2014 was the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.). Weakened by the Heller decision in 2008, the D.C. ban on concealed and open carry was ruled unconstitutional on July 26, 2014 by U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin, Jr.
The majority of states honor the concealed handgun licenses and permits issued by other states; although the decision to honor another state’s license or permit varies from state to state. Some states, for example Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, unilaterally honor the licenses or permits from all states. Several states only honor licenses or permits from states whose training and background standards mirror their own. While thirty-seven (37) states have formally executed and countersigned reciprocity agreements with at least one other state. Of these, the state of Ohio’s permit has the highest recognition overall.
Since many states will issue licenses or permits to out of state residents, Alaska, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming, will only honor a license or permit if held by a resident of the issuing state.
In 2004, the United States Congress passed the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (18 U.S. Code 926B and 926C). This federal law allows a “qualified law enforcement officer” and/or a “qualified retired law enforcement officer” to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of any state or local law to the contrary, with certain exceptions.
Other than your official state’s website, usacarry.com offers interactive permit maps to help you identify which state(s) you can legally carry in, in addition to which state honors specific licenses or permits. If you want to know where your license or permit is honored, use the USA Carry “States That Honor My Permit” link.
For additional information on the Texas License to Carry (LTC), go to the official Texas Handgun Licensing Page.