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The Best Concealed Carry States in 2013 (Text Only)

by G&A Online Editors   |  October 24th, 2013 80

 

Best States for Concealed Carry in 2013

After ranking the Best States for Gun Owners in 2013, we’re back to rank the Best Concealed Carry States.

Since federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry licenses does not yet exist in the U.S., individual states are left with the task of regulating concealed carry laws within their own borders.

Over the past few decades, most states in the country have gradually shifted their carry laws to become less restrictive. Despite fewer restrictions, legally carrying a concealed firearm remains vastly different from one state to another—and in some cases one town to another. The diversity of laws naturally creates ambiguity around the entire topic of concealed carry legislation.

Aside from background checks, training requirements and application fees, states are generally classified into one of four categories, based on how they issue licenses.

Permitless/Unrestricted – Also commonly known as “Constitutional Carry,” individuals can carry a concealed firearm without obtaining a license or permit.
Shall-Issue – Permits are required to carry a concealed handgun, but the granting authority has no discretion over the issuance of permits. The granting authority shall issue a permit if an applicant meets distinct criteria in the law.
May-Issue – The granting authority may issue a permit at their discretion, and usually require “good cause” or a “significant reason” to carry a firearm.
No-Issue/Restricted – Individuals cannot obtain a license to legally carry a concealed firearm.

Currently, Shall-Issue is the most common method of issuance, with 38 states issuing licenses without discretion, as long as an applicant meets distinct criteria in the law. States with unrestricted concealed carry—other than Vermont—also issue permits on a Shall-Issue basis so individuals can travel out of state, and still legally carry a concealed firearm in states with reciprocal agreements.

So we set out to objectively rank the Best States for Concealed Carry based on measurable criteria. Outside of the data we measured are several other factors that are difficult to quantify—such as transport laws and places restricted from carry. Keep in mind we are specifically focusing on concealed carry, rather than open carry. Just like our “Best States for Gun Owners in 2013,” no state earned a perfect score.

To determine the best concealed carry states in 2013, we examined the following criteria and assigned numerical values to each category for a maximum of 100 points.

Permit Issuance: States were awarded up to 25 points based on their method of issuance.
Permitless/Unrestricted = 25 Points
Shall-Issue = 20 points
May-Issue = 5 points
No-Issue/Restricted = 0 points.

Reciprocity: The number of states honored in the issuing state were counted and assigned a maximum of 10 points. Next, the number of states where the issuing state’s permit is honored were counted and assigned a maximum of 10 points. The two totals were then added together for a maximum of 20 points.

Number of Permits Honored in the Issuing State

0 States = 0 Points 1-10 States = 2 Points 11-20 States = 4 Points
21-30 States = 6 Points 31-40 States = 8 Points 41-50 States = 10 Points

Number of States Where the Issuing State’s Permit is Honored

0 States = 0 Points 1-10 States = 2 Points 11-20 States = 4 Points
21-30 States = 6 Points 31-40 States = 8 Points 41-50 States = 10 Points

Training Time: Training time was scored based on the minimum number of statutory training hours required, for a maximum of 10 points. States with unrestricted carry automatically earned the maximum number of points.

0 Hours = 10 Points 1-3 Hours = 9 points 4-6 Hours = 8 points
7-9 Hours = 7 points 10-12 Hours = 6 points 13-15 Hours = 5 points
16+ Hours = 0 points

Application Fee: Application fees were scored with a maximum of 10 points based on the statutory cost paid by civilians to their state of residence in order to obtain the permit. Fees were not scored based on renewal or out-of-state permit costs, military/law enforcement/veteran rates or senior citizen discounts. Fees also do not include the cost of any necessary training course(s). States with unrestricted carry automatically earned the maximum number of points.

$0-$25 = 10 points $26-50 = 8 points $51-75 = 6 points
$76-100 = 4 points $101-150 = 2 points $150+ = 0 points

Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine: States’ scores were determined based on how strong their law is regarding self-defense in and out of the home, and whether you’re immune from civil prosecution in a self-defense situation. Maximum of 10 points.

Best States for Gun Owners in 2013: To Best determine how generally gun friendly the state is, each was awarded up to 10 points based on their overall rank in the Best States for Gun Owners in 2013.

Ranks 1-10 = 10 points Ranks 11-20 = 8 points Ranks 21-30 = 6 points
Ranks 31-40 = 4 points Ranks 41-50 = 2 points

Duty to Inform: States were awarded points based on whether or not individuals who are legally carrying are required to immediately inform a law enforcement/peace officers they are carrying a gun upon initial contact.
5 Points = Not required to immediately inform a law enforcement officer.
0 Points = Required to immediately inform a law enforcement officer.

Pre-Emption of Home-Rule:  States were awarded points if state laws pre-empt local governing bodies from crafting their own legislation regarding concealed carry. In most states, pre-emption does not include local laws regarding the discharge of firearms within city limits.
5 Points = State laws pre-empt local governing bodies from crafting their own laws.
0 Points = Local governing bodies can make their own laws and are not subject to state pre-emption.

Permit Issued to Non-Residents: States earned points based on their method of issuance to non-residents.
5 Points = Permits are issued on a Shall-Issue basis to non-residents.
2 Points = Permits are issued on a May-Issue basis to non-residents.
0 Points = Permits are not issued to non-residents.

Find out where your state stacks up compared to the rest of the country, and be sure to enter the debate. 

51. Washington D.C.
Permit Issuance: 0
Reciprocity: 0
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Stand Your Ground: 0
Best States for Gun Owners: 0
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 0
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 0
It’s hard to believe any place in the United States—aside from places such as prisons and mental institutions—could possibly score a zero. Until the recent Heller Supreme Court decision, residents weren’t even allowed to own guns. No magazines are allowed that hold more than 10 rounds, there is no law permitting concealed carry, and there is no Castle Doctrine law.

50. California
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Stand Your Ground: 6
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5Pre-Emption: 0Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 24
If you’re not a Hollywood celebrity or rock star, odds are you won’t be getting a permit—especially if you live near a populated area. Among the most strict gun laws in the nation, California legislation also restricts residents to one handgun purchase per 30 days, and handguns have to be on the “approved” list for legal sale.

49. Hawaii
Permit Issuance: 5Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 4
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 0
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 32
Hawaii is a May-Issue state, and licenses are rarely issued. A state permit is also required to purchase a handgun, and many of which are banned. Hawaii may be a popular vacation destination, but it’s far from a friendly place for concealed carry and gun owners in general.

48. New Jersey
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 2
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 0
Issued to Non-Residents: 2
TOTAL: 32
Carrying a gun is generally difficult in a May-Issue state, and even worse if the state requires two separate permits just to own a single handgun—which must be limited to 15 rounds. New Jersey also requires three reputable people knowing a person for at least three years to justify the need for that person to carry.

47. Massachusetts
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 5
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 0
Issued to Non-Residents: 2
TOTAL: 37
Massachusetts is famously unfriendly to gun owners. It issues concealed carry licenses on a May-Issue basis, and a state license is also required for buying guns or ammunition. Carry licenses are also broken down into Class A, B and C licenses, each of which with their own set of restrictions.

46. New York
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 6
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 3
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 0
Issued to Non-Residents: 2
TOTAL: 39
New York is a May-Issue state, and the closer you are to New York City, the less chance you have of getting a permit. Also, New York now has a weapons seizure law, just in case the cops think you might be up to something. New Yorkers also live under poor self-defense laws, but those who are magically approved for a permit only owe the state $10. Don’t plan on legally carrying any time soon in Bloomberg and Cuomo’s kingdom.

45. Connecticut
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 7
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 0
Issued to Non-Residents: 2
TOTAL: 40
While officially a May-Issue state, Connecticut is a Shall-Issue state in practice—with a lot of requirements. An eligibility certificate is also required to purchase a pistol. Reciprocity is also poor, and new licenses cost roughly $70.

44. Delaware
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 10
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 41
Although open carry is technically legal, obtaining a May-Issue concealed carry permit is next to impossible. First, an individual must have their application published into a newspaper—which must have at least 35 percent circulation to people in their Zip code. Among other requirements, an individual must also submit reference questionnaires completed by five citizens who also reside in the same county.

43. Maryland
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 5
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 2
TOTAL: 43
Maryland is one of a handful of East Coast states making it just about as difficult as possible to carry a concealed firearm. The laws are vaguely written and recognize almost no individual rights to firearm ownership. Handguns must be registered, and residents can only buy one gun per month.

42. Illinois
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 4
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Stand Your Ground: 9
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 50
The fight to earn Shall-Issue concealed carry in the Land of Lincoln has been a roller coaster ride in 2013 since the 7th Circuit Court ruled Illinois’ ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional. Residents are currently waiting until at least January 2014 to apply for licenses. The current law is Shall-Issue, with 16 hours of required training and an excessive application fee. Legislative battles over carry rights in Illinois are far from over, but are on track to becoming more forgiving.

41. New Mexico
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 5
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 5
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 62
Although it is a Shall-Issue state, New Mexico requires residents to complete a 15-hour course and other strict licensing requirements. It also has weak self-defense laws and charges $100 for new licenses.

40. Colorado
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Stand Your Ground: 6
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 63
Colorado was in the spotlight earlier this year with two state senators being recalled from office after endorsing anti-gun legislation. Regardless, licenses are issued on a Shall-Issue basis and are reciprocal with a number of states, including every neighboring state. Colorado has no duty to inform, but does require residents to display proficiency with a firearm.

39. Ohio
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 5
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 7
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 63
Obtaining a Shall-Issue license in Ohio requires more training than virtually any other state, with 12 hours of required training. Licensees are also required to immediately inform law enforcement upon contact. Reciprocity with other states is mediocre, and does not allow for residents to legally carry into their most proximate neighbor to the east, Pennsylvania.

38. Rhode Island
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 4
Training Time: 9
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 6
Best States for Gun Owners: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 64
Rhode Island scored noticeably higher on paper than their Shall-Issue system actually functions. The Attorney General has essentially smothered the current license-issuing program to reflect a May-Issue system in real-life practice. Rhode Island licenses also have almost no reciprocity with other states.

37. Oregon
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 4
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 2
TOTAL: 64
Licenses are issued to residents on a Shall-Issue basis, and issued to non-residents on a May-Issue basis. Oregon has very few restrictions on where guns can be carried, but poor reciprocity greatly reduces Oregon’s ranking.

36. Michigan
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 66 
With the economic decline experienced in cities such as Detroit, residents of Michigan may want to carry now more than ever. Licenses are issued on a Shall-Issue basis to residents only, and may cost up to $120.

35. Nebraska
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 5
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 67
Nebraska is a Shall-Issue state, but has particularly weak laws regarding self-defense. In addition to a $100 application fee, licensees are required to pass a necessary training course and vision tests based on evidence from a valid Nebraska driver’s license or state-licensed ophthalmologist.

34. Nevada
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 10
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 68
Nevada has some unique laws regarding licensing. Licensees are typically required to officially declare the specific types of handguns they intend to carry, but Nevada also has laws protecting the confidentiality of permit holders’ information. Reciprocity with other states is less than desirable, especially with California right next door.

33. Maine
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 8
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 5
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 69
One of the more gun-friendly states on the East Coast, Maine issues licenses on a Shall-Issue basis to residents and non-residents. Licensees have no duty to immediately inform officers. Maine loses points because of poor reciprocity with most nearby states.

32. West Virginia
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 69
Licenses are issued to residents for $75, after applicants prove physical and mental competence with a firearm. West Virginia has a Stand Your Ground law, and reciprocity is average, although nearby East Coast states are not reciprocal.

31. Idaho
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 2
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 70
Idaho lost points because Stand Your Ground and duty to retreat laws in Idaho remain vague. While Idaho recognizes permits from every state except Vermont—which doesn’t issue permits—many neighboring states like Washington and Oregon do not recognize Idaho’s.

30. Oklahoma
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 70
Oklahoma honors licenses from every state in the nation, including permit-less carry states such as Vermont. Oklahoma has strong Stand Your Ground laws, but requires duty to inform law enforcement officers and does not issue licenses to non-residents.

29. Louisiana
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 70
Louisiana issues licenses to residents only on a Shall-Issue basis. Permits from almost every Shall-Issue state in the nation are honored. Though licenses are slightly more expensive, Louisiana broke a tie-breaker with Oklahoma because the state is slightly more gun-friendly according to our “Best States for Gun Owners.”

28. Minnesota
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 71
Obtaining a Minnesota license is a similar process as most states requiring firearm training for Shall-Issue licenses. Application fees may cost up to $85. Non-residents can also obtain licenses on a Shall-Issue basis.

27. North Carolina
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 9
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 71
Though North Carolina requires licensees to immediately present their permit when approached or addressed by law enforcement, the Tar Heel State beat out Minnesota in the tie-breaker because reciprocity is better and North Carolina is slightly more gun-friendly overall.

26. Arkansas
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 5
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 72
While some folks claim Arkansas is now a permitless carry state due to recent court rulings, the State of Arkansas claims permitless carry and open carry remain illegal under the new laws. It appears cleaning up the language in the current law will require another court case to set the record straight.

25. Tennessee
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 73
Licenses in the Volunteer State are issued on a Shall-Issue basis to residents for $115. Stand Your Ground laws are well-defined. Tennessee honors all other states’ licenses, and Tennessee licenses are honored by all bordering states.

24. Kansas
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Stand Your Ground: 9
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 74
Concealed carry permits in Kansas are reciprocal with all neighboring states. Licenses are only issued to residents who take a training course and pay a $150 application fee. State law pre-empts local cities and counties from enacting their own firearm laws, except for open carry.

23. Georgia
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 74
Georgia is generally a gun-friendly state, but loses points with a $75 licensing fee and mediocre reciprocity. The state also does not issue permits to non-residents.

22. Washington
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 10
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 75
Permits are issued on a shall-issue basis for $55 to residents and non-residents with no safety or live-fire training. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain a license, but nearby states such as Oregon, Nevada and California are not reciprocal.

21. South Dakota
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 4
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 76
Though open carry is permitted without a license in many parts of the state, concealed carry requires a shall-issue license. Licenses are only $10 and require no formal safety or live-fire training.

20. Wisconsin
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 76
If gun laws in Wisconsin have anything in common with cheese, it’s that they get better with age. Recent legislation known as Act 35 has paved the way for the proliferation of carry rights throughout the state.

19. Mississippi
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 76
Recent legislation in Mississippi has expanded carry laws to allow folks who obtain an “enhanced permit” to carry in some places normally off-limits to those who obtain regular Shall-Issue permits. But be ready to pull out your pocketbook to pay $132 for the first time individual application fee to obtain a license.

18. South Carolina
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 77
Folks in South Carolina can carry concealed on a shall-issue basis, but must inform police officers immediately on contact during a traffic stop. Licenses are also not honored by the neighboring state of Georgia.

17. Florida
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 78
Florida’s concealed carry license is honored by many states because obtaining one meets or exceeds most state’s minimum requirements; applicants are required to take part in live-fire training, fingerprinting and photographs. Florida’s carry laws have been used as a model for several other states as concealed carry has proliferated across the country. Florida scored well in all categories, but their $112 application fee is not desirable.

16. Iowa
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 79
Honoring licenses from all other states, Iowa scores well in reciprocity. The cost of new permits is lower than the national average, and permits are obtained on a shall-issue basis.

15. Missouri
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 79
Though licenses can cost up to $100, Missouri CCW licenses have excellent reciprocity. Open carry is legal without a permit, depending on local laws/ordinances. Current military members and veterans ages 18-20 can also obtain a concealed carry permit on a shall-issue basis.

14. Texas
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 2
Stand Your Ground: 9
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 80
Texas is a famously gun-friendly state, and so are its concealed carry laws—with exception to licensing fees. Cost of a new resident license is among the worst on this list at $140. Texas recognizes licenses from 41 states, has a Stand Your Ground law with no duty to retreat, and immunity from civil lawsuits.

13. Kentucky
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 6
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 81
Kentucky honors licenses from all other states. A safety course is required to obtain a concealed carry permit, but no permit is required for open carry. State law specifically indicates training instructors cannot charge more than $75 for an applicant’s training course.

12. Montana
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 81
Montana would have made the top 10 if they were a true “Constitutional Carry” state. According to state law, a person may carry without a permit if they are, “outside the official boundaries of a city or town or the confines of a logging, lumbering, mining, or railroad camp or who is lawfully engaged in hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, backpacking, farming, ranching, or other outdoor activity in which weapons are often carried for recreation or protection.”

11. Virginia
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 82
Virginia has reciprocity agreements with carry licenses from 27 states. Licenses are issued to residents and non-residents on a shall-issue basis. Virginia has well-defined Stand Your Ground laws, and permit holders have no duty to inform law enforcement upon immediate contact.

10. Indiana
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 83
It seems the Hoosier State is good at more than just college basketball. Residents also know a bit about firearms, with 39 percent owning guns. Indiana scores well all around, with shall-issue licenses available without formal training. Lifetime carry licenses are also available for a nominal cost.

9. North Dakota
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 9
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 84
North Dakota is a Shall-Issue state for residents and non-residents. Open carry is legal only with a permit. North Dakota also scores high in reciprocity and Stand Your Ground laws.

8. Alabama
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 84
A sweet home for concealed carry, Alabama sheriffs issue licenses to residents without formal firearm training for a reasonable price. Licenses have excellent reciprocity with neighboring states, and open carry is legal with some exceptions.

7. Pennsylvania
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 85
Overall, obtaining a license to carry in Pennsylvania is considered very easy compared to other states. No formal training or handgun proficiency is required, and license fees are reasonably priced.

6. Alaska
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 8
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 0
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 86
Alaska is another “Constitutional Carry” state where law-abiding residents 21 and over don’t need a license to carry. Licenses are issued to residents who choose to carry out-of-state. Alaska lost a total of 10 points for requiring duty to inform officers immediately upon contact, and for not issuing licenses to non-residents.

5. Vermont
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 9
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 86
The Green Mountain State has long been friendly to both open and concealed carry. Carrying without a license is legal, but Vermont does not issue licenses, so residents will need to obtain a non-resident license from another state if they wish to travel outside Vermont with their firearm—unless they travel to Alaska, Arizona or Oklahoma, where a Vermont Driver’s License and being legally able to own a firearm are grounds for legal carry.

4. New Hampshire
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 87
In New Hampshire, residents are not required to complete any formal training or demonstrate knowledge of firearms to receive a permit. Although permits have poor reciprocity compared to other states, license fees are only $10 for residents.

3. Wyoming
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 7
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 0
TOTAL: 88
In the state with more antelope than people, Wyoming residents who can legally own a firearm can carry concealed without a license. Wyoming would have placed second—but they don’t issue licenses to non-residents, and Wyoming permits are only reciprocal with states who also honor their permit.

2. Utah
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 8
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 89
Although Utah requires a license for concealed carry, the state scores very well all around. Licenses are issued on a Shall-Issue basis to both residents and non-residents, and have reciprocity with a large number of states.

1. Arizona
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 10
Stand Your Ground: 10
Best States for Gun Owners: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Pre-Emption: 5
Issued to Non-Residents: 5
TOTAL: 98
After taking the top spot in “The Best States for Gun Owners,” Arizona tops the leaderboard once again. As a “Constitutional Carry” state, anyone 21 and over who can legally own a firearm can carry it concealed without a license. In addition, Arizona issues licenses on a Shall-Issue basis, allowing residents and non-residents to carry their weapons when traveling out-of-state. Arizona also has no duty to immediately inform an officer, has excellent reciprocity and a Stand Your Ground law.

*Editor’s note: State-specific gun laws are a complicated, frustrating and fluid subject. Some states are very hazy on certain statutes, so our data reflects those confusions with general statements based on our understanding of the law. Tie breakers were decided on a case-by-case basis and judged on self-defense laws, or how gun-friendly the state is overall. It’s also important to note safety and live-fire training time are ALWAYS recommended for anyone who carries, even if training is not a statutory requirement. We are not lawyers, nor do we claim to be. All information is current as of October 24, 2013. 

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