After this year, there will likely be 16 or 17 States that allow people to carry concealed handguns without a permit: Constitutional Carry

Jan 14, 2017 | Featured

With Missouri, West Virginia, and Idaho enacting Constitutional Carry laws last year, twelve states allow people to carry without a permit in all or virtually all their states.  This includes Montana that allows people to carry without a permit in about 99.4% of the state.    And 2017 is shaping up as a banner year for passing more of these laws.  States that are about to pass these laws include Indiana, Kentucky, New HampshireNorth Dakota, and South Dakota.  Tennessee is considering allowing “open carry” without a permit, though that is already quite common in most states.  In Iowa, there is substantial support change to their state Constitution that would prohibit “mandatory licensing,” though it isn’t completely clear how broad that restriction would be and it might prohibit state concealed carry licensing.  Other states that are considering this legislation, but are unlikely to pass Constitutional Carry, include: Colorado (won’t pass legislature and would be vetoed by governor), Minnesota (Governor would veto), Texas (unlikely to get out of the state legislature), and Utah (Governor would likely veto again).

It is difficult to evaluate the impact that these Constitutional Carry laws have on crime rates simply because few states have had these laws in effect for many years.  In the case of Vermont, they have always allowed carrying without a permit, so there is no before and after data to evaluate the impact of this policy.

 State  Effective Date
Vermont Since they became a state
Montana (99.4% of state) September 15, 1991
Alaska September 9, 2003
Arizona July 29, 2010
Wyoming July 1, 2011
Arkansas August 16, 2013
Kansas July 1, 2015
Mississippi July 1, 2015
Maine October 15, 2015
West Virginia May 26, 2016
Idaho July 1, 2016
Missouri January 1, 2017

Data on Accidental Gun Deaths

Only three states have allowed concealed carry without a permit in their states and have done so early enough so that we have accidental death data for at least five years after the law was enacted (Alaska, Arizona, and Montana).  For two of the states (Alaska and Montana), the effective date of their laws was in September.  For Arizona, the effective date was July 1st.  So year zero, the year that the laws went into effect, the laws are in effect for less than a quarter of the year for Alaska and Montana.  Thus any changes that occur during the effective year for those two states are hard to blame on the enactment of the laws.

Below is a graph that shows the ratio of accidental gun death rate relative to accidental non-gun death rate.  This is just a simple way to try to account for any changes that might be occurring in accidental deaths.  However, for those interested, a graph below shows just the accidental gun death rate.

There is another problem with this data, starting in 2008 the CDC stopped reporting accidental deaths when fewer than 9 occurred in a state in a particular year.  Thus no data was available for Arizona for 2011 through 2015, though we know that at most 9 people died in any given year.  Thus the values for Arizona for years 1 to 4 are maximum values for the rate that accidental gun deaths occur.

The bottom line is for this small sample of states it is very hard to see any bad effect of these laws. For Arizona, there is not a year after the law is enacted where the share of accidental gun deaths is as high as it was in the three years before the law or the year of enactment.  In Alaska, there is only one year where the share is relatively high.

UPDATE: South Dakota’s governor, Dennis Daugaard, has announced that he opposes the push for Constitutional Carry in his state.

UPDATE: There is an argument to be made that Pennsylvania and Indiana, with an exemption for those who are being stalked or threatened, would be the ideal concealed handgun law. This would mean a permit with a very low fee and no training requirement. It would be easier to defend in the long run because with the permits you show how law-abiding the permit holders are.



  1. Mike D.

    Any legal law-abiding citizen can carry a firearm for protection without licensing from the ‘State’ ? Must be chaos, blood in the streets, unprecedented murder rates…
    Oh wait, those are headlines from where I live in Chicago, IL. where I have to have a license from the state to even buy a bullet or possess a firearm.

  2. querin

    did you forget Missouri?

    • johnrlott

      I don’t understand. Missouri is there, right?

  3. querin

    did you forget missouri> sorry ment Iowa

    • Travis

      The states listed in the story are Constitutional Carry states, meaning No permit is required to carry open or concealed. Iowa requires a permit to carry Open or Concealed, so Iowa isn’t (yet) a Constitutional Carry state.

  4. ChrisG

    I live in AR & I called the AR State Police to make sure that my State was open-carry & they told me that it was but I needed to call the Prosecuting Attorney of my county to make sure that I wouldn’t get arrested! I called the PA a few times & haven’t yet heard back from him, & it’s been over a month now.

    What do I do?

    • johnrlott

      The law seems pretty clear, but the previous state Attorney General, Dustin McDaniel, is a Democrat and issued a finding that the the law doesn’t allow carrying without a permit. He promised to prosecute people regardless of the law. The issue was whether people are willing to bear what could turn out to be significant legal costs. I don’t believe that the new AG Leslie Rutledge hasn’t yet issued an opinion on this issue. If you want to get this changed, you and all your friends should contact her office and ask her to put out a new opinion.

    • Tim Loggains

      Arkansas is constitutional carry. Taff v Arkansas established case law to support this.

  5. David Cobb

    Does anyone know if Pennsylvania is going to pass Constitutional Carry in 2017?
    Pa. HB 230 passed in the state legislature in 2016, but I haven’t seen anything else yet…
    Most of PA is Republican, except for the two urban areas (Philadelphia & Pittsburgh) so it has a chance, the only other problem is the governor (Wolfe) who is a democrat…
    Constitutional Carry has some national momentum, and I’m hoping it passes in Pennsylvania!
    I’m a firm believer in our Constitution, and we should not have to get some beaurocratic politician’s approval and have to register and pay additional fees to exercise our 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights.

    • johnrlott

      Personally, there are many more important laws to pass than Constitutional Carry in Pennsylvania. The state already has an excellent concealed carry law, indeed, it is about the perfect law. If you are serious about stopping terrorist attacks, get rid of gun-free zones on places such as college campuses and K-12 schools.

      • Butch Tits

        Hope you all kill yourselves with your penis extensions.

        • johnrlott

          Thank you for the very informative and useful comment.

  6. Rick

    In WV anyone, drug dealer, anger issued, alcoholic, or just plain crazy can carry open or concealed. So come on down. You can even carry in our bars, in Church, in school, and in the State Capitol. We have no “soft targets” .

    • johnrlott

      No, Rick, you aren’t very well informed. If someone couldn’t obtain a concealed handgun permit, they can’t legally carry. They will be committing a crime.

      • bullsballs

        why would criminals worry about obeying the law?

        • LongPurple

          Do they worry about any laws, “gun control” or robbery, rape, murder now?

        • Tionico

          Good point, and the BEST REASON supporting no-Mother May I Cards as a prerequisite for arming one’s self outside the home. Since the criminals don’t mind the laws anyway, they ONLY affect we who uphold the law. And THAT is the point of the push for Constitutional Carry. Leave Mommie Out of It. The US, and most state, Constitutions gurantee our right to be armed. Full stop, end of sentence. So WHY infringe upon ANY of us by mandating we go talk to Mommy with Cash in Fist? This is NOT, contrary to what many believe, a state issue. It is Federal, because it is the Federal Constitution declares the RIGHT of the PEOPLE to keep and bear shall not be infringed. And that is a binding constraint upon government at ALL levels to make certain this does not happen.

  7. Kevin Crystal

    Dr. Lott,
    Why are you looking at accidental deaths and not murder?

  8. Carlos Morales

    With this constitutional right to carry no back ground check .so a delinquent could have possession and commit crime.

    • johnrlott

      Not really Carlos. If someone who is not legally allowed to carry because of a criminal record, if they do what you say and commit a crime, they will face an additional felony for illegally carrying the gun.
      You are also assuming that background checks stop criminals from getting guns when virtually everyone who is stopped is a mistake.
      Finally, the vast majority of crime is committed by gang members. If you think that the government is any better at stopping gang members from getting guns then they are in stopping them from getting illegal drugs, good luck.

    • Tionico

      the delinquent is either under age and/or already a “prohibited person” from possessing firearms. So HE is already debarred the use of arms. HIS status does not change. Yours and mine DO.

    • Stan Down

      So penalize those who are law abiding by permitting & licensing a right. Totally contradicting the Constitution. Use the negative acts of others to take defense means away from those of positive acts….Every society will have emotional unstable people and the only way to defend from them is for the stable people to be able to defend themselves without having to defend themselves from the lunacy of those who or mentally defunct or “pussyfied” or have nefarious political NWO rule the world agenda in the government!

  9. DONNIE Hensley

    I think any American that is not a felon ,or has commented a serious crime should have the right to open carry .IM from SOUTH CAROLINA and I think our forefathers gave us the right in the 2 nd amendment!!!!!!!

    • bullsballs

      our forefathers did give us the right, but the current criminals in office took them away…

    • Tionico


      Our Forefathers, the Framsers did not GIVE us that right. They recognised that we already and have always and forever WILL have that right, which is from our Creator, the One who gave us life and, along with that, the right to defend it. Thjis right preexists and is not dependent upon any government entity.
      Don’t swallow the gun grabber’s mantra that the Constitution/government/president/BATF GIVE us that right. It is ours by our birth.

  10. Mark Muller

    Does anyone know if Oregon will ever allow Constitutional carry in the near future?

    • johnrlott

      With the current governor and state legislature, the probability of that happening is essentially zero.

  11. mike curtis

    no gun law ever passed at any governmental level has ever stopped anyone who wanted to get a gun from doing so. ESPECIALLY criminals.

  12. jj

    I’ve gotten the impression that Iowa was very close to passing constitutional carry and similar policies, since now Republicans have majorities (and strong ones) in both houses, and they have the governor’s office. In the late election, several long-time anti-gun Senate Dems including the Majority Leader were laid low by the gun lobby.

    John, do you know something I don’t, or is it the other way around?

    IDK, maybe there is an issue with the leadership or with the governor, but I thought the prospects were very good.

  13. Chip

    For those states that have permitless open carry but require a permit for concealed carry, it basically amounts to having a law that prohibits wearing clothing a certain way.

    I’m thankful that we finally have a governor in New Hampshire that’ll sign constitutional carry it once it’s passed by the legislature (again).

  14. Diane D

    I urge folks to open carry. The 2nd Amendment supports closed carry. But open carry supports the 2nd Amendment. That’s a huge difference in my book.

    • johnrlott

      There is a big difference between open and concealed in terms of safety. For example, one thing that we have written about many times is the extremely difficult job that police have in stopping mass public shootings — having someone in uniform to guard a target is like putting a neon sign above them saying shoot me first. Attackers have a huge strategic advantage in terms of picking the time and place to attack. If you have police there, the attackers can shoot them first, wait for them to leave, or pick another target. Concealed carry takes away those strategic advantages to the attacker. Open carry is much more similar to that of an officer in uniform.


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