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Best States for Concealed Carry 2015

by Keith Wood   |  September 14th, 2015 0

Every year, Guns & Ammo ranks the “Best States for Gun Owners,” and the majority of G&A’s readers’ comments focus on state laws relating to concealed carry. Since 2013, G&A has ranked the “Best States for Concealed Carry” to explore the area that interests our readers most.

Please note that this survey addresses concealed carry rather than open carry. The very nature of open carry laws make them nearly impossible to rank as they are more or less binary. (You either can or can’t legally open carry in a given state or municipality.)

G&A considered several aspects of a state’s concealed carry statutes (or lack thereof in one case) to determine which states are most friendly for defense-minded individuals.

States are ranked in the following categories: issuance, reciprocity/recognition, training requirements, fees, the existence and strength of so-called “Castle Doctrine” or “Stand Your Ground” laws, rankings from G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” survey, duty to inform law enforcement, firearm law preemption and non-resident permit issuance. Putting numerical values on something as complicated as a CCW statute is a tricky proposition.

G&A developed this formula, which has proven itself effective. We don’t expect every reader to agree, but this information is as accurate and objective as it could be made.

Prohibited locations or “gun free zones” are difficult to assign values to and were used solely for the sake of breaking ties among states with the same raw scores, of which there were many.

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Best States for Gun Owners 2015

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Here are the categories and point values used to create these rankings:

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.

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 five points based on the statutory annual cost paid by civilians to their state of residence in order to obtain the permit. In the past, fees were scored based on the total cost but that was not a fair comparison since the duration of the permits varied significantly.

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.

$0-5 = 5 Points $10-15 = 4 Points $15-20 = 3 Points

$20-25 = 2 Points $25-30 = 1 Point $30+ = 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 a gun owner is immune from civil prosecution in a self-defense situation. These scores reflected the same point values as the 2015 Best States for Gun Owners, unless the law has changed since that article was published. Maximum of 10 points.

Best States for Gun Owners in 2015: 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 2014.

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.

Here they are, worst to first. Find out where your state ranks compared to the rest of the country, and be sure to enter the debate.

51. Washington, D.C.

DCSince we compiled this report last year, DC has begrudgingly established a “may issue” system of issuing concealed carry permits. The problem with the system is that it is virtually impossible to obtain one.

According to the law, an applicant must prove that they have been subject to “serious threats of death or serious bodily harm, any attacks on his or her person, or any theft of property from his or her person.” The good news is that the U.S. District Court has ruled that element of the law as unconstitutional.

The bad news? The U.S. Circuit Court has stayed this ruling pending a review. So lets assume that you can meet this “need” standard and you’re eligible for a permit: it will take 18 hours of training. The law also limits you to carrying no more than 10 rounds on your person and it mandates the use of a holster. The application fee is a non-refundable $75 and permits are valid for two years.

Reciprocity is a bit murky: DC does not recognize permits from any other jurisdiction, but clearly the states with “full recognition laws” will accept a DC permit.

50. California

californiaCalifornia permits are issued on a may-issue basis by the sheriff of each county. Whether or not an average citizen can actually obtain a permit varies wildly from county to county. Just this year, heavily populated Orange County shifted to a more restrictive “good cause” standard of issuing permits.

Requirements for obtaining a permit vary from county to county as well. California permits are honored in 23 states, though California does not honor permits from any other state.

49. Hawaii

hawaiiHawaii uses a very restrictive may-issue permit system. “Sufficient indication of urgency” must be shown to the chief of police in order to meet the threshold for obtaining a permit. The rarely-issued permits cost $10 and are valid for one year.

Hawaii does not recognize permits from other states, but Hawaii’s permits are recognized by 18 states. Hawaii is unfriendly to guns and their owners generally, so it gets only two points in the “Best States” category.

48. New Jersey

new-jerseyNew Jersey’s may-issue permits are furnished by the chief of police and must be approved by a superior court judge. Applicants must demonstrate “justifiable need” as well as evidence of good character and competency. If a permit is granted, it is valid for two years and is recognized in 19 states.

The cost of a permit is a reasonable $10 per year. New Jersey beats Hawaii in a tie, since the Aloha State appears to prohibit carry in just about all public locations.

47. Maryland

marylandConcealed carry permits are all but impossible to get in Maryland despite years of efforts to the contrary. Permits are issued through Maryland’s state police, and the applicant must show that getting one would be a “reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.”

The law requires 16 hours of instruction in order to obtain a permit and eight additional hours in order to renew every two years. Maryland does not recognize the permits of any other state, but its permits are recognized by 18 other states, according to the NRA.

46. New York

new-yorkNew York’s convoluted licensing program is as confusing as it is cumbersome. State permits are no good in New York City and city permits are not honored by the state. The state’s fee is a reasonable $2 per year, but New York City permits cost $340 annually.

New York does not recognize permits from any other states, but New Yorkers with permits can carry in 22 other states.

45. Massachusetts

massachusettsThe Bay State uses a may-issue permit system where Class A licenses serve as both a permit to purchase and carry a concealed firearm. Permits are obtained through the police department. Non-resident permits are issued through the state police and are valid for a year.

Massachusetts does not recognize permits from other states but holders of permits from Massachusetts can carry in the 18 full-recognition or permitless carry states. Individuals carrying a firearm have a duty to inform law enforcement if asked, and there is no statewide preemption, so individual municipalities can regulate where a firearm is allowed.

44. Delaware

delawareDelaware is a slightly better state for concealed carry than neighboring Maryland, but that’s not saying much. Delaware’s may-issue permits are provided by the courts and require excessive documentation of good character. The price of permits is low at just over $20 per year, and Delaware has decent reciprocity with 24 states recognizing Delaware’s permits.

Strong self-defense laws and state firearms preemption make Delaware a decent state to carry in if you can get a permit. The state passed a law this year that allows municipalities to regulate open carry in some areas, but concealed carry is exempt.

43. Connecticut

connecticutA permit is required to carry a handgun anywhere outside people’s homes, including their yard or even to transport a handgun to the shooting range. The permit that is issued to carry a handgun also allows you to carry the gun either concealed or openly.

Connecticut permits are “may issue” but are generally issued if the applicant is qualified under the law. Connecticut does issue permits to non-residents but does not recognize permits from other states. Connecticut permits are recognized by 23 other states. The only enumerated prohibited locations are schools.

42. Illinois

illinoisIllinois has had legal concealed carry for two years now and, despite predictions to the contrary, the sky has not fallen. Permits cost $150 and are valid for five years, while non-resident permits can be obtained for $300.

The 16-hour training requirement is extensive as Right-To-Carry states go, but Illinois does have strong self-defense laws. The law has a preemption element, so cities cannot opt-out.

Illinois resident permits are recognized in 25 states.

41. New Mexico

new-mexicoPermit holders can carry a single firearm in New Mexico under state law. Permits are issued to residents by the Department of Public Safety on a shall-issue basis and are valid for four years. Initial training, as well as refresher training, is required, and the fees compute to $25 per year, which is higher than the national average.

The New Mexico Legislature did make some changes to their concealed carry law this year, which eliminated the training requirement for certain military and mounted patrol personnel. It also deletes the fingerprint requirement for permit renewals.

40. Nebraska

nebraskaConcealed carry permits are issued through the Nebraska State Patrol with a fee of $20 per year. Non-resident permits are not available, but Nebraska maintains broad reciprocity with other states. Nebraska gets only five points for its lukewarm self-defense laws but gains points due to reasonable training standards.

The law is preemptive of local ordinances in places like Omaha and Lincoln, but there is a duty to inform law enforcement in place. A bill guaranteeing the privacy of permit records will carry over into next year’s legislative session as bill passage is generally a two-year proposition in the state’s unicameral legislature.

39. Oregon

oregonOregon permits are issued to residents on a shall-issue basis and may be issued to non-residents. Reciprocity is fairly poor with only 20 states recognizing Oregon permits, and no out-of state-permits are honored. Permit fees are $12.50 annually.

Other than courthouses, the only prohibited locations are those set by federal law. The state does have a preemption statute, so permits are valid statewide.

38. Rhode Island

rhode-islandConsidering its location, Rhode Island’s carry laws are actually pretty good. Rhode Island’s shall-issue permits are issued through the attorney general to both residents and non-residents. Fees are only $10 annually for the four-year permit, and a handgun can be carried anywhere not prohibited by federal law.

Rhode Island permits are good in 23 states, but Rhode Island does not recognize permits from any other state.

37. Ohio

ohioThe Buckeye State has a shall-issue system with good permit reciprocity among other states. Folks carrying in Ohio have a duty to inform law enforcement that they are carrying, and permits are not issued to non-residents.

The list of prohibited locations in Ohio is extensive, but legislation is currently moving that would eliminate many of those “defense-free zones.” Ohio has some of the broadest reciprocity laws in the nation and recognizes permits from all issuing jurisdictions.

Permit fees are $13.40 per year.

36. Michigan

michiganMichigan’s concealed carry law got a boost this year when the legislature passed a multi-faceted reform bill. This year’s legislation eliminated licensing boards and streamlined the overall process. Domestic violence victims and other citizens who have an immediate fear of serious bodily harm can now obtain temporary emergency permits, a concept that other states should look to emulate.

Michigan has strong use of force laws and great reciprocity. Permit fees are rather high, which is almost the only area that this state loses many points. Prohibited locations include hospitals, casinos, large sporting events and bars. Parents dropping their kids off at school may carry legally in their automobiles.

35. Arkansas

arkansasArkansas passed numerous bills this year to eliminate many of the prohibited carry locations from their concealed carry statute. For example, K-12 schools may establish their own concealed carry policies if they so choose. The state legislature also passed a bill to help prevent civil lawsuits when citizens use a firearm to defend themselves, thus strengthening the use of force laws.

Though many of this year’s legislative changes don’t do much to help the state’s score, they do make for a better carry environment. Fees are a bit higher than the national average at $28.30 annually. Individuals carrying a firearm in Arkansas have a duty to inform law enforcement that they are armed, and the state does not issue permits to non-residents.

Whether open carry is legal has been somewhat up for debate in recent years. That confusion was cleared up in August 2015 when Attorney General Rutledge penned a letter to clarify that it is allowed under most circumstances, according to her office’s interpretation of the law. Her letter also makes clear that this does not affect concealed carry, which still requires a permit in Arkansas.

34. Louisiana

louisianaLike every state in the South, Louisiana has a reasonably strong concealed carry law. Louisiana gets good points for reciprocity and a strong “Stand Your Ground” statute, but its fees are high. Permits are only issued to residents, and carry permit holders have a duty to inform law enforcement that they are carrying when contact is made.

Louisiana’s list of prohibited locations is fairly broad and includes churches, parades and bars.

33. Colorado

coloradoAnti-gun legislators hold a majority in the Colorado House of Representatives but, thus far, have left the concealed carry statute alone. Permit fees remain low at just over $10 per year, and Colorado has strong reciprocity with other states.

Colorado has very few prohibited places listed in state law such as schools and public buildings with security screening being the only restricted areas. This puts the state ahead of Louisiana in a tie.

Colorado’s standard-capacity magazine ban and private transfer prohibitions have hurt the state in G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” category over the past few years, as things appear to be getting worse rather than better.

32. Oklahoma

oklahomaOnce again, Oklahoma scored well in G&A’s “Best States” rankings for its good overall environment for gun owners. Yet, an NRA-backed bill to address some ambiguous preemption issues was vetoed by Gov. Mary Fallin despite passing both houses of the legislature by wide margins.

Oklahoma gets near maximum points for reciprocity, as it recognizes permits from all other U.S. states. Its permit is honored in nearly 40 other states. The only categories the state lacks points for include higher-than-average fees, a duty to inform law enforcement and resident-only permits. Oklahoma gets full points for a model use-of-force law.

Oklahomans can keep firearms legally locked in their cars in employer-owned parking lots.

31. Minnesota

minnesotaMinnesota law doesn’t enumerate many prohibited locations, but it does allow just about any business to ban carry by posting a sign. A statutory language changed passed this year should help expand reciprocity, which isn’t great at this point.

Minnesota has reasonable training requirements, and also issues permits to non-residents. There’s no duty to inform law enforcement that you’re carrying, unless they ask, and as of August 2015, permit holders can carry in the state capitol complex.

30. North Carolina

north-carolinaCarrying a concealed firearm is a bit easier this year in North Carolina thanks to a sweeping reform bill signed by Gov. McCrory. The bill allows parents dropping their kids off at school to keep their guns legally in their cars, strengthens the preemption statute and streamlined the permit process.

Use of force laws are strong in North Carolina, and the state gets near max points for reciprocity. Permits are issued to residents by the county sheriff on a shall-issue basis.

North Carolina loses to South Carolina in a tight race over the fewest prohibited locations, as both states have a laundry list.

29. South Carolina

south-carolinaSouth Carolina’s reciprocity is pretty abysmal as southern states go. A bill was filed this year to move the Palmetto State to a full recognition state, but the bill was amended into a permitless carry bill and did not pass.

South Carolina only issues permits to residents and landowners, but does not issue non-resident permits. The state has a strong “Stand Your Ground” statute, low fees and good performance in G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” rankings.

S.C.’s list of prohibited locations is fairly long.

28. Maine

maineMaine became one of a handful of states to allow for “permitless” carry when Gov. LePage signed LD 652 in July 2015, though this only applies to Maine residents. Concealed carry permits will still be issued to those that desire them and are only $10 per year.

Though Maine is a shall-issue state, the statute does allow for the denial of a permit based on non-criminal activity such as reckless or negligent behavior on the part of the applicant. Reciprocity is pretty poor with Maine only recognizing the permits of eight other states, but those with Maine permits can carry in 23 other states.

Maine has very few prohibited locations — essentially only schools.

27. Washington

washingtonDespite poor reciprocity and a low overall state ranking for gun owners, Washington does well in the concealed carry permit department. Permit fees are very reasonable at $7 annually, and nonresident permits are available.

The state gets max points for strong use of force laws and training requirements are minimal.

26. South Dakota

south-dakotaAn effort to pass permitless carry in South Dakota failed to make it through the legislature in 2015, leaving the state’s existing permit system intact.

Fees for carry permits are among the lowest in the country, and permits can be issued to individuals as young as 18.

Reciprocity is decent, but the state’s self-defense laws are pretty weak. Prohibited locations are few and include schools, bars, courthouses and snowmobiles. (Seriously, that’s in the law.)

25. Tennessee

tennesseeTennessee does reasonably well in G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” rankings and has good concealed carry laws overall.

Reciprocity is excellent, and Tennessee recognizes all permits from other states. The Volunteer State has a strong self-defense law that earns it max points in that category.

Carrying a gun in restaurants is legal, but establishments can prohibit carry with proper signage. Permits are issued to residents at a fee of only $28.75 per year.

24. West Virginia

west-virginiaA new law went into effect for West Virginia during the summer of 2015 that protects the identities of concealed carry permit recipients from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

West Virginia has good reciprocity and recognition which earns it 16 points in that category. The state has strong self-defense laws and, of course, a shall-issue permit system. County sheriffs issue permits in the Mountain State and the list of prohibited places is short.

West Virginia does not issue permits to non-residents.

23. Wisconsin

wisconsinWhen Wisconsin finally passed a concealed carry statute, they skipped over the incremental steps and passed a good one.

Reciprocity could be better, but the state has a strong Castle Doctrine law, and gets high points for its reasonable training standards and modest fees. The list of prohibited locations is limited to government-type facilities and the parking lots of those locations are exempt from the prohibitions.

In related news, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill this year to repeal the longstanding 48-hour waiting period on handgun sales, continuing Wisconsin’s march toward a more pro-gun landscape.

22. Nevada

nevadaNevada used to have pretty poor reciprocity, but that changed this year, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Sandoval. Nevada now recognizes 23 states’ permits instead of 14.

The state also strengthened its use of force laws and preemption statute and eliminated Clark County’s handgun registration scheme — all in all, a good year for Nevadans and their visitors. Nevada’s list of prohibited locations for carry is short, basically consisting of public buildings.

Nevada’s training standard is reasonable, and permits are issued to non-residents.

21. Georgia

georgiaOther than its so-so reciprocity, Georgia has very strong concealed laws. Permits can be issued at age 18 for active-duty military and are issued to non-military residents ages 21 and older.

The Peach State has strong use of force laws and a solid preemption statute. Prohibited locations are very few in Georgia; GWL licensees can even carry into government buildings.

Georgia’s fees are right at the national median of $15 per year.

20. Idaho

idahoIdaho has very strong reciprocity, recognizes permits from all other states and even issues non-resident licenses.

Idaho issues two types of concealed carry permits: a standard permit and an “enhanced” permit. The enhanced permit has specific training requirements and gives the holder greater reciprocity. With an enhanced permit, Idahoans can also carry on the campuses of colleges and universities, though specific rules can vary from school to school.

The only place that Idaho really loses ground is in the “Castle Doctrine” category. The state has good case law on the subject, but its statute is lacking.

19. Missouri

missouriMissouri ranks high in G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” standings and has good use of force laws. Missouri has excellent reciprocity/recognition, which earns the state 18 points, but there are many places where carry is restricted.

The annual permit fee of $33 per year is well above the national average and permits are only issued to residents. There is no duty to inform law enforcement that you are carrying in the Show Me State. (Perhaps a tad ironic.)

18. Pennsylvania

pennsylvaniaPreemption of local ordinances continues to be an issue in the Keystone State, as a trial court invalidated a statute designed to address this longstanding battle between gun owners and cities.

We give the state an unusual 3 out of 5 points in the preemption category due to this situation. The state has decent reciprocity as long as you don’t drive north or east, and the state’s deadly force laws score well.

Pennsylvania’s list of prohibited locations is short, and public buildings must provide lockers in which citizens can secure their handguns.

17. Virginia

virginaGov. McAuliffe vetoed three pro-gun bills in 2015, one of which would have protected the personal information of concealed carry permittees from non-reciprocal law enforcement agencies.

Virginia earns strong points across the board in this contest, having good reciprocity and Stand Your Ground laws as well as the ability for non-residents to apply for permits.

Prohibited locations are few in Virginia, and citizens can even carry concealed in the state capital building in Richmond. Carrying openly or concealed is allowed in restaurants and bars so long as no alcohol is consumed.

16. Iowa

iowaDespite a legislature that is pretty resistant to helping gun owners, Iowa does well in our rankings. The state has great reciprocity, training time is minimal and fees are low.

Non-resident permits are issued, but Iowa gets only four points in the “Best States for Gun Owners” category. Iowa’s “weapon-free zone” is pretty ambiguous, but generally, the state has a short list of prohibited locations.

This is a state that probably ranks higher than it should based on our methodology, but no system is going to be a perfect evaluator of complex statutes such as these.

15. Alabama

alabamaAlabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed an NRA-backed bill this year that, among other things, eliminates a hospital’s ability to ban firearms in their parking garages.

Alabama did well in our “Best States for Gun Owners” survey and gets full points for its Castle Doctrine statute. Fees in Alabama are at the discretion of the issuing authority but are $20 per year on average.

There is no training requirement for obtaining a permit in the state, and it recognizes permits from nearly every state in the union.

14. Texas

texasThe big news in Texas this year is that concealed carry permits will also serve as “open carry” permits in the Lone Star State, but other less-publicized changes in the law also took place.

Colleges and universities in Texas are no longer automatically prohibited locations, and cities are restricted from enforcing some prohibitions on where citizens can carry.

The CHL law is pretty strong all around, and Texas gets high marks in nearly every category. Permits are issued by the Department of Public Safety to both non-residents and residents.

13. Mississippi

mississippiMississippi dropped its fees this year, which gained it three additional points on top of last year’s score. The state has strong reciprocity, recognizes permits from all other states and gets near max points in the “Best States” category.

Prohibited location are many and include churches, and the bar areas of restaurants. Permits are issued to residents only.

12. Kentucky

kentuckyKentucky is a state with strong gun laws and generally does well in our surveys.

No training is necessary to obtain a Kentucky concealed carry permit if you have served in the military, and a bill was passed this year which provides more training options to citizens. Bars, schools and government buildings are virtually the only places where concealed carry is prohibited.

Residents can apply for concealed carry permits electronically through the state police, and reciprocity is great.

11. North Dakota

north-dakotaNorth Dakota has strong concealed carry laws and, thanks to Gov. Jack Dalrymple and legislature’s work in 2015, university students and employees will be able to legally keep guns in their cars on campus.

Fees are just $9 a year, the state has good reciprocity (including a new agreement with Minnesota), and the state has a solid Stand Your Ground law.

Permits are issued within 30 days to both residents and non-residents and North Dakota does well overall in the “Best States for Gun Owners” category.

10. Montana

montanaA bill that would have legalized permitless carry throughout Montana was vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock in 2015.

Montana gets high scores for reciprocity, Castle Doctrine and in the “Best States for Gun Owners” category.

Montana’s list of prohibited places is somewhat extensive and includes banks, but it still does well enough in this category to win a 5-way tie between states with a total of 78 points. Fees are below average at $12.50 per year.

9. Florida

floridaFlorida has been known as a leader in concealed carry laws since 1987. Florida issues permits to both residents and non-residents, making it one of the most popular states for gun owners looking for reciprocity across the U.S.

Florida has strong use-of-force laws and one of the strongest preemption statutes in the nation.

Florida loses to New Hampshire in a tie-breaker based on its more extensive list of “gun free” zones.

8. New Hampshire

new-hampshireIt is fascinating that once you get north of Massachusetts, you run into a block of three states with solid concealed carry laws and — you guessed it — less violent crime.

Unlike most of the northeast, New Hampshire issues permits on a shall-issue basis. The state gets full points for its low fees, and does well in G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” lineup. The only place specified by state law where you can’t carry a gun is in a courthouse.

Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill this year that would have allowed for permitless concealed carry. Open carry is already legal in the “Live Free or Die” state.

7. Indiana

indianaIndiana scores well across the spectrum of categories. Indiana has good reciprocity being that their permits are recognized in almost 30 other states. The Hoosier State recognizes all permits.

No training is necessary to obtain a permit in Indiana, and permits are issued to residents and non-residents alike. Permit fees in Indiana are low at only $10 per year.

6. Vermont

vermontVermont operates from a lack of concealed carry laws and relies on a 112-year-old state Supreme Court opinion instead. As long as you are not a prohibited possessor such as a felon, you can carry a gun legally almost anywhere in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont scores well in every category except for reciprocity and permits for non-residents.

5. Wyoming

wyomingWyoming has what many believe to be the “perfect” system of both permitless and permitted concealed carry. You don’t need a permit, but you can get one for traveling outside of the state, if you so desire.

Wyoming permits issued by the attorney general’s office and are recognized in more than 30 states. The list of prohibited locations is short — essentially public buildings, schools and bars.

An effort to remove the prohibition of concealed carry on the campuses of schools and universities failed during 2015.

4. Alaska

alaskaLike a growing list of states across the nation, Alaska allows concealed carry without a permit but issues permits as well.

Alaskan permits have some of the best permit reciprocity in the nation, which is always good news. Not surprisingly, Alaska does great in G&A’s “Best States for Gun Owners” lineup and gets full points for its “Stand Your Ground” statute.

Alaska beats Wyoming based on a shorter list of prohibited locations.

3. Utah

utahAn effort to establish permitless carry in Utah failed in 2015, despite making it out of the state’s senate.

Utah consistently scores well in the “Best States for Gun Owners” ranking. Utah permits are widely recognized, and Utah accepts permits from any issuing state. The state gets good points for its low fees of less than $10 per year, and renewals are even less at only $3 annually.

Carrying is prohibited in “secure locations,” but that list is short and requires posted notice.

2. Kansas

kansasIn less than a decade, Kansas went from one of four states without a concealed carry system to its current status as a permitless carry state. (Talk about a turnaround.)

Reciprocity is as good as it gets, and training time is reasonable if you want to obtain a permit. The state doesn’t issue nonresident permits, but you can carry there without a permit anyway, so it is a non-issue.

Kansas gets a perfect 10 for its Castle Doctrine law, which was passed back in 2006.

1. Arizona

arizonaOnce again, Arizona lands at the top of the heap in both G&A’s “Gun Owners” and “Concealed Carry” best-of lists.

Arizona managed to score top marks in every category we used for this evaluation. Arizona gives you the choice of getting a permit or carrying without one, and if you do get a permit, reciprocity is strong.

A handful of states don’t recognize Arizona’s permits, which is the only thing that keeps it from achieving maximum points in every category.

*Editor’s note: State-specific concealed carry laws are a complicated, frustrating and fluid subject. We have consulted sources such as the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and state and law enforcement agencies to compile these rankings. Some states are very hazy on certain statutes, so our data reflects those confusions with general statements based on our understanding of the law. All information is current as of September 2015.

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