31 Open Carry States and 10 With 'Permissive' Open Carry

By: Mitch Ryan  | 
Road sign welcoming drivers to the state of Texas
Texas is one of the largest states in the country and one of the biggest proponents of constitutional carry legislation. Paul Souders / Getty Images

Gun laws in the United States vary by state, especially when it comes to open carry of firearms. In open carry states, people can carry firearms openly without special permits as long as they follow state laws. Most states allow the open carrying of long guns for self-defense in the home, target practice and lawful hunting.

Concealed weapons, however, typically require more extensive permits and background checks. Over the decades, gun laws have aimed to balance gun owners' rights with public safety, restricting ownership for individuals with felony convictions and imposing regulations on nonresidents.


State laws are continuously changing on the issue, and the situation is made more confusing by local governments, who may add or remove further regulations to ensure responsible gun ownership and safe firearm use.

What Is the Difference Between Open and Concealed Carry?

The primary difference between open and concealed carry is visibility. Open carry allows people to carry firearms visibly, while concealed carry involves keeping a concealed handgun hidden from view under baggy clothing or in a hidden holster inside the belt.

There are varied interpretations of these differences between state and federal law, but open carry is typically defined as carrying a firearm openly in the public's view.


31 States That Allow Open Carry Without a Permit

The following is a list of states that allow open carry without requiring a valid permit. Such possession does not automatically correlate with permitless concealed carry, but gun owners must learn local requirements in any case.

1. Alabama

Alabama is one of the most lenient open carry states in the country. Anyone over the age of 18 is allowed the right of openly carrying firearms in most situations, but citizens without a concealed handgun permit can only lawfully do so on their property or in their personal vehicle.


2. Alaska

Alaska state law also has lenient legislation for citizens possessing firearms. Anyone 21 or older can openly carry or conceal carry without a permit. Furthermore, Alaska does not restrict magazine capacity, ban assault weapons or limit private sales with background checks or waiting periods.

3. Arizona

Arizona does not require responsible gun owners to hold a concealed or open carry permit. Similar to Alaska's permitless carry policy, local governments have little reign over gun laws except to prohibit anyone charged with disorderly conduct or another aggravated offense from being able to carry a handgun.

4. Arkansas

Arkansas gun legislation allows all citizens over the age of 18 to lawfully possess and carry concealed firearms without a permit. In this state, you can also carry handguns or a long gun used for hunting in view of the public.

5. Delaware

Delaware citizens can carry openly but concealed weapon permits are more stringent, requiring background checks and specialized training.

6. Idaho

In this rural state, long guns used for hunting and self-defense are common in motor vehicle racks built for quick access. Both long guns and concealed handguns are allowed without a permit.

7. Indiana

In Indiana, responsible gun owners over the age of 18 can open carry, but state law requires background checks and waiting periods for citizens to attain a concealed carry permit.

8. Iowa

Iowa also does not prohibit open carry or restrict the possession of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. However, all purchases and private transactions will require a background check.

9. Kansas

Kansas's gun laws are similar to those of other permissive open carry states. Gun owners with concealed carry permits from other states can apply for an optional reciprocity permit.

10. Kentucky

You can open carry in Kentucky as long as you are at least 18 years old. Local authorities have limited autonomy to restrict citizens from openly carrying long guns and other firearms to ensure uniformity across the state.

11. Louisiana

Constitutional carry laws prevail in Louisiana, yet concealed carry permits are issued on a case-by-case basis.

12. Maine

Anyone over 21 can open or conceal carry without a permit. Licensed dealers require a background check, but private sales are not restricted.

13. Mississippi

Both open and concealed carry are allowed without a permit.

14. Montana

Both open and concealed carry are allowed without a permit. Nonresidents can apply for reciprocity permits for concealed carry

15. Nevada

Anyone 18 years or older is allowed open-carrying privileges without a permit. However, if you wish to carry a firearm in a concealed holster, you must apply for a specialized permit and pass a background check.

16. New Hampshire

New Hampshire firearm laws allow responsible, gun-owning citizens to carry a firearm concealed or openly without a permit.

17. New Mexico

New Mexico firearm laws are parallel to most states on this list except the legal age to carry a handgun is 19 years old.

18. North Carolina

North Carolina state law allows open carry without a permit. However, localities are allowed more sovereignty to invoke certain restrictions to improve public safety.

19. Ohio

A person 18 years or older is legally allowed to possess and carry a handgun or other firearm openly. Concealed carry permits are required.

20. Oklahoma

Oklahoma restrictions are lenient and align with most 21-and-older states. However, there is a clause that veterans or military personnel can carry a firearm once they turn 18.

21. Pennsylvania

Long gun laws are typically universal in rural areas of the state, but urban areas are more restrictive. For instance, in Philadelphia, you cannot carry a handgun on your person or stash it in a concealed location in your private automobile.

22. South Dakota

South Dakota aligns with most states on this list, including the reciprocity laws regarding concealed carry restrictions for nonresidents.

23. Tennessee

Tennessee has laws similar to Oklahoma regarding the legal carry of firearms, including the 18-year-old military provision.

24. Texas

The old adage of "everything is bigger in Texas" still rings true. Texas is one of the largest states in the country and one of the biggest proponents of constitutional carry legislation. For many decades, laws regarding the carry of firearms have remained lenient and unchanged.

25. Utah

Any responsible citizen 21 years or older can open carry without a permit in the state of Utah. Firearm laws do restrict high-capacity magazines and assault weapons either.

26. Vermont

Vermont carry laws align with firearm legislation shared by several states on this list, including (but not limited to) reciprocity agreements for nonresidents.

27. Virginia

Virginia upholds stricter gun laws than other open carry states, with special provisions in place for large public gatherings and urban centers like the independent city of Newport News.

28. Washington

A Washington state citizen must be at least 21 years old to open carry without a permit. However, vehicle possessions are generally prohibited.

29. West Virginia

Anyone over 18 are legally allowed open or conceal carry without a permit in West Virginia unless they have prior convictions.

30. Wisconsin

Wisconsin has lenient gun laws that allow open carry without a permit. However, concealed carry laws require stringent background tests and specialized training.

31. Wyoming

Anyone 18 years or older without a record of felonies can carry a handgun or other firearm openly.


10 Permissive Open Carry States

Permissive open carry states do not typically allow open carry, but authorities may issue licenses or allow special permissions on a case-by-case basis.

1. Connecticut

A carrier must be at least 21 years old. However, several conflicting pieces of legislation established by the appellate court could make a person open carrying fall into legal gray areas in specific local jurisdictions.


2. Georgia

Open carry is not addressed in the new Constitutional Carry Bill. Although permit holders 21 and above (or military personnel older 18 and older) can open carry.

3. Hawaii

In Hawaii, you can only open carry in the county where the special permit was issued.

4. Maryland

18-year-old Maryland residents can only acquire an open carry permit for employment purposes.

5. Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, you can only open carry if you have a current and valid Class B license. However, no new class B licenses are being issued at the time of publication.

6. Minnesota

Minnesota residents cannot apply for an open carry permit before they are 21 years old.

7. New Jersey

New Jersey is one of those gray-area states where open carry is not explicitly prohibited by law. The general rule of thumb is that you can open carry in most jurisdictions at 21 years or older.

8. North Dakota

You must be at least 18 years old in North Dakota to apply for an open carry permit.

9. Rhode Island

Rhode Island has relatively strict gun laws that require applicants to be at least 21 years old. Citizens can open carry legally only with a permit issued by the Attorney General. The Attorney General is also the highest-ranking state official to review penal code changes regarding firearms.

10. South Carolina

Residents of South Carolina must be at least 21 years old to apply for an open carry permit.


The Future of Gun Laws in the United States

Following decades of gun violence and mass shootings, many U.S. citizens are calling for additional restrictions on laws regarding the purchase, permit, and carry of firearms. Legislation for gun reform continues to fight headwinds stemming from 2nd Amendment supporters and gun manufacturer lobbyists.

However, some form of gun reform may be on the horizon. For example, if passed, the Senator Portantino House bill AB2103 would make California the only state to date that requires all concealed carry permit holders to pass a live-fire proficiency test before they are considered fully trained.