18 State Capitols Officially Allow (and at least 21 allow in practice) Some Form of Legal Firearm Carry

12 May , 2016  

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CPRC has found that there are 18 State Capitols in the U.S. which officially allow some form of legal firearm carry for either visitors, legislators, employees, or all of the above. Some require the individual have a handgun carry permit before being allowed to enter the Capitol with a firearm. Here is the breakdown of those Capitols.  In at least three other states, Iowa, Georgia, and Wyoming, guns are officially banned, but legislators have an agreement that allows them to carry.  From our conversation with other legislators, even when there is an official ban, it is our clear understanding that legislators are allowed to carry in other states.

**Out of all the Capitols that allow some form of legal carry, we have only found two cases of an accidental discharge of a firearm (no one was injured). This took place at the Kentucky State Capitol (2014) and also the Virginia Capitol (2006). The stories can be found here and here.  There have also been two cases where guns have been left unattended in Colorado (2014) and Missouri (2013).  UPDATED: There is one other case in 2016 where a the Idaho House Assistant Majority Leader briefly forgot that he had left his gun in his office desk drawer.

Despite carrying being allowed for decades (or possibly even longer) in many of these statehouses, the rate of these problems is incredibly rare and in no cases has anyone been injured.  There have been no reported problems with civilians being able to carry on statehouse grounds.

Note in the list below we include states where news articles note that legislators are carrying even when the statehouses are officially gun-free zones.  There are a number of other states where there are gun-free zones but we know that legislators still carry, but we only include those where this has been reported in the news media.

State-by-state breakdown:

Arizona: General Assembly Members are allowed to carry concealed in the Capitol. Arizona does not require a handgun carry permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

Florida: Concealed carry only is allowed at Florida Capitol with handgun carry permit. No guns allowed in Legislative meetings. This Capitol does have metal detectors. Source: Florida Capitol Police 850-487-2700.

*Georgia: While the state Capitol is known to the public as a gun-free zone, media reports indicate that “a lot of elected officials already carry into government buildings.”

Idaho: If you carry concealed, you must have a concealed handgun carry permit until July 1, 2016. At that time, Constitutional Carry will go into effect for any legal gun owner who wishes to carry in the Idaho Capitol concealed. The Second Amendment is your carry permit. Idaho Legislators are allowed to carry always. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors. Source: Idaho Capitol Police: 208-334-2222

Indiana: Legislators & Judges are allowed to carry as long as they have a handgun carry permit. Source: Indiana Capitol Police 317-232-3142

*Iowa: We thought we would place this one on our list just to give you an example of what some state capitols may quietly allow. It’s kind of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” understanding. Iowa Capitol Police have stated that only law enforcement is allowed to carry in the Capitol. That is the official answer. Although there are metal detectors, legislators are not required to go through them like the general public. We did find a news story where a legislator has said he carried his gun in the capitol. This may be a sort of quiet gentlemen’s agreement between Capitol Security and the Legislators as to who is carrying, we don’t really know for sure.

Kansas: Anyone who is legally able to own a firearm can carry a concealed handgun in the Kansas State Capitol, no permit required. Only concealed carry is allowed. This Capitol does have metal detectors. Source: Kansas Capitol Police 785-296-3966

Kentucky: Open carry of firearm allowed, no permit required. Concealed carry allowed with handgun carry permit. No guns allowed in Legislative meetings. This Capitol does have metal detectors. Source: Ky Capitol Police 502-564-0054

Michigan: Open carry of a firearm is allowed, no permit required. Concealed carry allowed with concealed license permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

Minnesota: Those citizens with a handgun carry permit are allowed to carry in the Minnesota State Capitol.  This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

Missouri: Legislators and Staff who have a handgun carry permit are allowed to carry in the Capitol. There are no metal detectors at this Capitol. Source: Missouri Capitol Police 573-751-2541.

Nevada: Legislators & Staff are allowed to carry as long as they have a handgun carry permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors. Source: Nevada Capitol Police 775-687-5030

New Hampshire: Allows open carry of firearm (no permit is required). Allows handgun to be carried concealed (you must have a concealed carry permit). There are no metal detectors at this Capitol. Source: New Hampshire Capitol Security 603-271-3321

New Mexico: Open carry of firearm is allowed, no permit required. Concealed carry allowed with concealed carry permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

Oregon: Anyone with a handgun carry permit may carry open or concealed in the Oregon State Capitol. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

Texas: Anyone with a valid concealed handgun carry permit may carry concealed in the Texas State Capitol. This Capitol does have metal detectors.

Utah: Open or Concealed Carry is allowed with a handgun carry permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors. Source: (Capitol Security) Utah Hwy Patrol 801-538-1618

Virginia: Possession of a firearm is allowable to three groups. Those being General Assembly Members, Law Enforcement and anyone who has a valid concealed handgun permit. Firearms can be carried open or concealed. The Senate has banned firearms from being carried in the public gallery overlooking the Senate Floor. The House does not have that restriction for their gallery.  This Capitol does have metal detectors.

Washington: Open carry of firearm allowed, no permit required. Concealed carry allowed with handgun carry permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

Wisconsin: Concealed handguns allowed with concealed carry handgun permit. This Capitol does NOT have metal detectors.

*Wyoming: While the state Capitol is known to the public as a gun-free zone, according to a news report we found, legislators are carrying concealed handguns. Apparently there is a quiet understanding between Capitol Security and the Legislators as to who is carrying. This Capitol does not have metal detectors but is closed for several years for renovations. There will be metal detectors once re-opened. (Legislative session is taking place at another location nearby temporarily.)

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4 Responses

  1. Robert Morse says:

    I wonder which states provide firearm storage so you can check your “banned” firearm as you enter.

    • Joseph Flanagan says:

      Although storage is written in PA law, often the Court will make you go around the corner to the Sheriff’s office to log your firearm.

  2. Kevin Vick says:

    In Minnesota we have had zero, yes, zero incidences of any event, problem, or situation with a legally permitted carrier……… ever.

  3. FiftycalTX says:

    For a little more explanation, the capitol in Austin, Texas has a lane for license to carry holders that gets them past the metal detectors without waiting. And you can open or concealed carry. You can’t go into the gallery when the legislature is meeting, but other than that, you can walk into the offices open or concealed. Lots of reporters have gotten LTC’s just so they don’t have to wait in line for the metal detectors.

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