Carry A CCW In A Polling Place
Another voting season is here, and with that comes wondering about concealed carry in a polling place. It's certainly something to wonder about, since it wouldn't do to go and cast one's vote whilst armed and find that one is prohibited from voting while carrying, if indeed that was the case.
The shortest answer is that, just like so many other aspects of concealed carry, is that it mostly depends on state law. Some states don't like people carrying unless they're police, and some states don't like people to carry in polling places. Bear in mind that this isn't legal advice, just a discussion of publicly-available legal information.
Non Concealed Carry Polling Locations
Though there may be - depending on state regulation - some polling locations where one can carry, but there are some where a person is not allowed to carry. Some polling locations are located in federal buildings and other gun-free zones.
One of the most common sites used for voting stations is public schools. As most are likely aware, concealed carry at schools is almost entirely off-limits, since federal laws prohibit carrying in schools unless one has a concealed carry permit from their state of residence.. Depending on state law, a lice nsed concealed carrier may not be able to come within 1000 feet of a school. They may be able to park in the parking lot, but no more - it all depends on state regulations.
Consult your state's laws if you want to know more about concealed carry laws regarding schools, and ensure that they are complied with if polling places in your area are located in schools.
What Other Voting Location Might Be Gun Free?
Additionally, other locations may be used as a voting location that are otherwise gun-free zones, though it may not be as common. Public libraries and other public buildings are quite common; be sure to check local and state law ahead of voting in order to know if carry there is otherwise allowed.
Granted, many of the areas that are often prohibited by state law to carry in are places that the public typically doesn't go to. Common areas include controlled areas of mental hospitals, controlled areas of prisons, courthouses, establishments that sell intoxicating spirits (either liquor stores, bars and taverns) and sometimes "places of public nuisance." Some states also prohibit carry in capital buildings, but if a state prohibits possessing a gun in a place of public nuisance, prohibiting carry in a state legislature building is redundant.
Another common location used for voting is churches, which some states statutorily prohibit carrying in. Be sure to consult the laws of your state to determine if your local voting place is going to be off-limits.
Carry In Any Other Polling Place
Outside of polling locations where carrying would be prohibited anyway, many states have a law regarding carrying in a polling place.
Generally, there isn't much middle ground when it comes to concealed carry in a polling place. It's either allowed or it isn't.
Some states forbid it, with or without a license, and regardless of what location is used as a polling place. For instance, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Texas all forbid carrying by any party at or near a polling station.
Other states, such as Washington state, Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, and even California (believe it or not) don't prohibit concealed carry in a polling place - provided said polling place isn't otherwise restricted - at all. Even Hawaii doesn't prohibit it for licensed carriers...if anyone could get a license there. In truth, most states fall into this category; so long as a person is legally allowed to possess and carry a firearm, and their voting location isn't a prohibited location for carry, a person can carry when they go to vote.
There are a few states in between. For instance, Mississippi has limited constitutional concealed carry, but also has standard and enhanced licenses available. Certain locations are off-limits for people carrying without a license, and likewise some can be carried in if one DOES have a license. Polling places in Mississippi can be carried in if one has the enhanced license, but not if carrying sans permit.
Some states, though, restrict open carry at polling places whilst not restricting concealed carry. Be sure to check your local laws and keep an eye out for the distinction between the two.
Granted, you can also just elect to receive an absentee ballot and not have to worry about it.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.