State Gun Laws

Though some gun issues are covered by federal gun laws, most laws covering firearms are enacted by states, and vary greatly in purpose and substance according to state. Some gun issues, however, are fairly common, and most states address these with laws. Below, you’ll find a few commonly-sought laws on gun issues and which states allow these practices.

Please keep in mind that this summary is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon. These laws may have changed since our last update.

Right to Carry Concealed Weapons

One of the country’s most controversial laws decided at the state level is the right to carry a concealed weapon. This right typically refers to handguns (which are small enough to conceal), but may include other concealed weapons or guns as well. Thirty-nine states have what is referred to as “shall issue” concealed-carry laws, meaning that as long as applicants meet certain predetermined criteria, their application cannot be denied.

Nine states have what is known as a “may issue” law, meaning that concealed-carry permits are issued at the discretion of those issuing permits. However, in practice, there is a range of practices used in “may issue” states, from virtual “shall issue” practices in Alabama, Connecticut and Iowa to “never issue” practices in Hawaii, which technically allows permits but does not issue them per the decision of local officials.

Whether or not such laws support a reduction in crime is the subject of much debate, and evidence exists supporting both sides of the argument.

States with “Shall Issue” Concealed-Carry Laws
Alaska Michigan Oklahoma
Arizona Minnesota Oregon
Arkansas Mississippi Pennsylvania
Colorado Missouri South Carolina
Florida Montana South Dakota
Georgia Nebraska Tennessee
Idaho Nevada Texas
Indiana New Hampshire Utah
Kansas New Mexico Vermont
Kentucky North Carolina Virginia
Louisiana North Dakota Washington
Maine Ohio West Virginia
States with “May Issue” Concealed-Carry Laws
Alabama Hawaii New Jersey
California Iowa New York
Connecticut Maryland Rhode Island
Delaware Massachusetts  
States with Laws Banning Concealed-Carry
Illinois Wisconsin District of Columbia

Gun Bans on Handguns and Assault Weapons

Some states have enacted bans on certain types of guns, and in such cases, any possession of these guns outside of legal bounds is punished severely. Some jurisdictions ban handguns, while more typically assault weapons are banned. A criminal defense attorney can advise you more thoroughly about gun bans in your state and what penalties for violating these bans might be.

States with Bans on Particular Guns
California: assault weapons,
.50BMG caliber firearms, some .50
caliber ammunition and “unsafe handguns.”
Maryland: assault pistols Ohio: assault weapons
(certain areas)
assault weapons
assault weapons
Virginia: revolving-cylinder
shotguns, like the
“Street Sweeper”
and “Striker 12″ models
assault pistols
New Jersey:
assault weapons
District of Columbia:
handguns and
semiautomatic firearms
Illinois: Chicago,
Evanston, Oak Park,
Morton Grove, Winnetka,
Wilmette, and Highland Park
prohibit handguns
New York:
assault weapons

Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer if You’ve Been Arrested on Gun Charges!

Regulations concerning gun permits, assault, possession and other firearms related issues have a complex set of legal issues associated with them. Consider seeking the help of a criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with violating your state’s gun possession or usage laws.

Simply call 1 (877) 445-1059 or fill out our free case evaluation form to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in your area and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your gun law issue in greater detail.

The above summary of state gun laws is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For the latest information on state gun laws, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.