Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2023

Nov 30, 2023 | Concealed Handgun Permit Report, Original Research

A copy of our newest report is available here (please download). Copies of our annual reports from 2014 through 2022 are available here.


Despite the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen affirming a constitutional right to bear arms, there hasn’t been a huge surge in the number of Concealed Carry Permit holders across the United States. Instead, it dropped slightly, down 0.5% from 2022 record high to 21.8 million. A major cause of the marginal decline is that 27 states now have Constitutional Carry laws after Nebraska’s Permitless Concealed Carry law took effect on September 2, 2023. In other words, people in those twenty-seven states are allowed to carry concealed handguns without permits, representing 65% of the land in the country and 44% of the population in 2022. Unlike gun ownership surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really “hard data” that we have, but it becomes a less accurate measure as more states become Constitutional Carry states. 

Among the findings of our report:

■ Last year, the number of permit holders dropped for the first time since we started collecting this data in 2011, decreasing 0.5% from 2022 record high to 21.8 million. The main reason for the drop is that the number of permits declines gradually in the Constitutional Carry states even though it is clear that more people are legally carrying.

■ 8.4% of American adults have permits. Outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, about 10.1% of adults have a permit. 

■ In seventeen states, more than 10% of adults have permits. Kentucky and Virginia have fallen slightly below 10% this year. Kentucky’s fell after passing a Constitutional Carry law in 2019, meaning that people no longer need a permit to carry. The concealed carry rates for Michigan and Oregon have risen to above 10% in 2023. 

■ Alabama has the highest concealed carry rate — 27.8%. Indiana is second with 23.0%, and Colorado is third with 16.5%.

■ Six states now have over 1 million permit holders: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the top states with 2.56 million permits. 

■ Twenty-seven states have adopted Constitutional Carry for their entire state, meaning that a permit is no longer required. Because of these Constitutional Carry states, the concealed carry permits number does not paint a full picture of how many people are legally carrying across the nation. Many residents still choose to obtain permits so that they can carry in other states that have reciprocity agreements, but while permits are increasing in the non-Constitutional Carry states (317,185), permits fell even more in the Constitutional Carry ones even though more people are clearly carrying in those states (485,013). 

■ A survey we conducted with McLaughlin and Associates found that 15.6% of general election voters carry concealed handguns.