Can I Carry A Gun Without A CCW Permit?

Almost all states require one, but there are some places where a CCW permit is not required. A number of states have opted to do away with mandatory permits for carrying a concealed firearm entirely. Likewise, there are some states where a permit is technically only required in certain areas.

Bear in mind, this article is not written by a lawyer. It should not be construed as legal advice in any way, shape or form - this is just information and discussion.

States Where You Can Carry A Gun Without A Permit

ccw permit requirements

A modern phenomenon regarding gun rights is that of what's called "constitutional carry." Constitutional carry is used to mean a state whose laws require no permits of any kind; a person can carry a gun there openly or concealed without needing a permit, so long as that person is legally allowed - meaning of sufficient age and without legal encumbrances - to possess a firearm.

There are eight states which allow permitless carry for their residents:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Out of all of these states, Vermont is considered (ironically) the most liberal in terms of allowing residents and non-residents to be free to carry a loaded firearm in a concealed manner. Wyoming and Idaho both have stricter requirements – permitless carry is allowable for residents only.

Other states occasionally try to go full constitutional carry, but these 8 are - at the time of this writing - the only ones. Of the remaining 42 states in the union, 30 or so allow permitless open carry, though concealment still requires a ccw permit.

Seven of these states passed laws creating constitutional carry recently; all but one state did so after the start of the current millennium. The state of Vermont, believed to be the most libertarian state in the nation, was the lone state to have never had anything other than constitutional carry. No permit has ever been required there.

Where Can I Carry Without A Permit Outside Constitutional Carry States?

ccw state reciprocity

There are other states where one can carry without a permit in limited circumstances. The exact circumstances vary by state, so make sure to read up on the applicable laws in your area to make sure that you stay compliant with the law.

Laws allowing permitless carry outside of constitutional carry states take a variety of forms. Some states allow concealed carry while in and around one's home or place of business, such as Georgia, South Carolina and Washington state, just to name a few.

South Carolina and Washington state also exempt people engaged in hunting, fishing - and other "lawful outdoor activities" in the case of Washington state - from needing a concealed carry license. This exemption also extends to traveling to their place of hunting and fishing, though what that entails is rather murky; presumably that means once a person has gotten out of the car and is walking to the fishing hole or hunting grounds.

gun laws

Believe it or not, even the state of California exempts licensed hunters and fishermen while hunting or fishing from needing a California concealed carry permit. That state also exempts people concealed carrying in or around their homes or in their fixed place of business. Granted, that's about the only people who get to in that state! A valid hunting or fishing license is required in most states with the hunting/fishing/oudoorsing exemption, so don't think that the presence of trees means do whatever you want.

Note, however, that such a statute in any state does not grant one the authorization to deliver a coup de grace with a handgun to downed quarry. Besides, that would be overkill with most fish.

Some states, such as Montana, don't require a permit to concealed carry in unincorporated areas. In other words, you can conceal to your heart's content outside city/town limits.

Some states allow for concealment of an unloaded gun, but concealing a loaded firearm requires a license, such as the states of New Hampshire and New Mexico.

Oklahoma allows residents of constitutional carry states to carry without a permit in Oklahoma, provided they are eligible to legally carry and can substantiate residency in the state in question.

Since the exemptions range from state to state, it's up to each person to research the issue for their home state or state they intend to be in. However, these are exemptions that you may encounter...though your mileage may vary.

Please Obey Concealed Carry Laws

The concealed carry laws of the state you reside or are in during travel determine what you need to be able to carry, so can you carry without a permit? Maybe, depending on the circumstances. Wherever you intend to carry, please do so in compliance with any applicable concealed carry laws. Disregard of such laws will leave you liable to arrest, jail and anything else that comes with it.

That said, if a person doesn't live in a constitutional carry state, there may be instances in which a permit is not required - be sure to check your state's laws to determine if any such exemptions are extended to you. Consult with a licensed attorney for additional guidance.

Do you feel constitutional carry is a good approach or would you prefer to have each person apply for a concealed carry permit? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

gun blog writer sam hoober  

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 include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..