Open Carry States

Guns play a key role in American history, society, and culture as the right to keep and bear firearms is fundamental and protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as by the constitution of a majority of U.S. states. Many U.S. citizens are attached to their right to own and carry firearms. But this right does not come without restrictions and other regulations. Both at the federal and state level, laws are regulating gun manufacturing, ownership, and usage. 

States all have varying laws regarding where, how, and to what degree a citizen living therein can own or use a gun. Some states are therefore considered to be less strict than others, and allow more gun rights than others.

Open Carry vs Concealed Carry

Open carry is a practice that is allowed in almost every state in the country. To openly carry a firearm means that a citizen’s gun is intentionally carried on their person in public spaces and either fully or partially exposed for others to see. It is most of the time kept in a holster or attached to a sling and this means that the firearm is easily accessible to the person, in any circumstances. In recent years, the practice of open carry has significantly increased throughout the country, particularly at the instigation of open carry and gun rights advocates.

Concealed carry entails carrying a weapon in public without showing it, the gun is therefore invisible to the public. Most of the time, concealed carry is a means of self-defense. The practice of carrying a concealed weapon is allowed in all states, either with or without a permit. 

Open Carry Laws

A vast majority of U.S. states allow open carry, however a few other states require a permit. There are also caveats to open carry with restrictions as to who can openly carry guns, as some states may impose age limits, geographical limits, criminal history conditions, etc. Citizens who wish to open carry a firearm must first be eligible to purchase a handgun. Under Federal Law, however, in most instances a U.S. citizen cannot buy a handgun if they have been convicted of a felony, have been involved in domestic violence, or if they have a debilitating mental disorder. Anyone attempting to purchase a handgun must pass a background check conducted by the FBI’s background check system. Since 1994, background checks have blocked more than 3.5 million attempted gun sales in the United States.

Open Carry States

Only four states prohibit the practice of open carry: California, Florida, Illinois, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia. All of these four states also forbid the practice of “constitutional carry” – the legal carrying of a firearm by a member of the public without a license or a permit – and except Florida, these states have significantly low gun ownership rates. 

Another ten states allow their citizens to openly carry a handgun, but under the condition that they have a permit. This is the case for Massachusetts, Minnesota, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, Rhode Island,  and Hawaii. But while Indiana and Tennessee allow constitutional carry, the other eight do not. 

Finally, the rest of the states – including Wyoming which has the highest gun ownership rate in the country, and Washington which has the lowest one – allow Americans to openly carry a gun. 

 

The following list lays out which states allow Open Carry Handguns (OCH) and Open Carry Long Guns (OCL), which require permits, and where it is prohibited:

  1. Alabama – allows both OCH and OCL
  2. Alaska – both OCH and OCL
  3. Arizona – allows both OCH and OCL
  4. Arkansas – allows both OCH and OCL
  5. California – both OCH and OCL is prohibited
  6. Colorado – allows both OCH and OCL
  7. Connecticut – a permit for OCH is required and OCL is allowed
  8. Delaware – allows both OCH and OCL
  9. Florida – both OCH and OCL is prohibited
  10. Georgia – allows both OCH and OCL
  11. Hawaii – requires a permit for both OCH and OCL
  12. Idaho – allows both OCH and OCL
  13. Illinois – both OCH and OCL is prohibited
  14. Indiana – a permit is required for OCH and OCL is allowed
  15. Iowa – allows both OCH and OCL
  16. Kansas – allows both OCH and OCL
  17. Kentucky – allows both OCH and OCL
  18. Louisiana – allows both OCH and OCL
  19. Maine – allows both OCH and OCL
  20. Maryland – a permit is required for OCH and OCL is allowed
  21. Massachusetts – a permit is required for both OCH and OCL
  22. Michigan – allows both OCH and OCL
  23. Minnesota – a permit is required for OCH and OCL is allowed
  24. Mississippi – allows both OCH and OCL
  25. Missouri – allows both OCH and OCL
  26. Montana – allows both OCH and OCL
  27. Nebraska – allows both OCH and OCL
  28. Nevada – allows both OCH and OCL
  29. New Hampshire – allows both OCH and OCL
  30. New Jersey – a permit is required for OCH and OCL is allowed
  31. New Mexico – allows both OCH and OCL
  32. New York – OCH is prohibited and OCL is allowed
  33. North Carolina – allows both OCH and OCL
  34. North Dakota – allows both OCH and OCL
  35. Ohio – allows both OCH and OCL
  36. Oklahoma – allows both OCH and OCL
  37. Oregon – allows both OCH and OCL
  38. Pennsylvania – allows both OCH and OCL
  39. Rhode Island – a permit is required for OCH and OCL is allowed
  40. South Carolina – a permit is required for OCH and OCL is allowed
  41. South Dakota – allows both OCH and OCL
  42. Tennessee – allows both OCH and OCL
  43. Texas – allows both OCH and OCL
  44. Utah – allows both OCH and OCL
  45. Vermont – allows both OCH and OCL
  46. Virginia – allows both OCH and OCL
  47. Washington – allows both OCH and OCL
  48. West Virginia – allows both OCH and OCL
  49. Wisconsin – allows both OCH and OCL
  50. Wyoming – allows both OCH and OCL

Handgun Open Carry Status by State

Alabama - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

38.7

#11 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,141

#16 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Alaska - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

38.5

#12 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

175

#41 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Arizona - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

35.6

#14 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,265

#12 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Arkansas - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

44.3

#8 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

673

#26 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

California - Handgun Open Carry Status

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prohibited

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

10.4

#42 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

3,449

#2 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Colorado - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

25.7

#21 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

922

#19 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Connecticut - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

20.8

#34 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

219

#39 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Delaware - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

6.1

#44 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

135

#44 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

District of Columbia - Handgun Open Carry Status

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prohibited

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

110.9

#2 in the US

Florida - Handgun Open Carry Status

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prohibited

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

23.8

#24 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

3,041

#3 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Georgia - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

28.2

#18 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,897

#4 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Hawaii - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

6.4

#45 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

50

#50 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Idaho - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

40.2

#9 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

321

#36 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Illinois - Handgun Open Carry Status

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prohibited

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

11.4

#41 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,745

#7 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Indiana - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

23.1

#25 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,159

#15 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Iowa - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

17

#36 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

351

#34 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Kansas - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

23.8

#26 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

494

#30 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Kentucky - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

24.1

#23 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

902

#20 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Louisiana - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

32.9

#17 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,183

#13 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Maine - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

15.6

#39 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

153

#43 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Maryland - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

22.1

#29 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

803

#24 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Massachusetts - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

6.5

#46 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

268

#37 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Michigan - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

10.9

#43 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,454

#10 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Minnesota - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

22.7

#30 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

513

#29 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Mississippi - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

27.4

#19 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

818

#23 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Missouri - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

18.4

#35 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,426

#11 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Montana - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

33.2

#16 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

238

#38 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Nebraska - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

22

#31 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

197

#40 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Nevada - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

37.9

#13 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

547

#28 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

New Hampshire - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

52.1

#6 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

128

#45 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

New Jersey - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

1.1

#50 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

443

#32 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

New Mexico - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

58.1

#5 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

479

#31 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

New York - Handgun Open Carry Status

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prohibited

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

4.6

#47 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,052

#18 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

North Carolina - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

21.1

#32 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,699

#8 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

North Dakota - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

40

#10 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

100

#47 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Ohio - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

17.7

#37 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,764

#5 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Oklahoma - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

25.9

#22 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

826

#22 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Oregon - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

23

#27 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

592

#27 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Pennsylvania - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

26.9

#20 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,752

#6 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Rhode Island - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

4.5

#48 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

54

#49 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

South Carolina - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

23

#28 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,131

#17 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

South Dakota - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

72.2

#4 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

120

#46 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Tennessee - Handgun Open Carry Status

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permit required

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

21.7

#33 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,473

#9 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Texas - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

34.1

#15 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

4,164

#1 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Utah - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

3.4

#49 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

429

#33 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Vermont - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

14.6

#40 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

76

#48 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Virginia - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

49

#7 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

1,174

#14 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Washington - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

1.2

#51 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

864

#21 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

West Virginia - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

92.8

#3 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

325

#35 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes

Wisconsin - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

16.3

#38 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

717

#25 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

No

Wyoming - Handgun Open Carry Status

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allowed

REGISTERED GUN RATE PER STATEhelp

245.8

#1 in the US

GUN DEATHShelp

154

#42 in the US

CONSITUTITONAL CARRY STATUShelp

Yes