Best States for Concealed Carry 2014
September 24, 2014
It has been nearly 30 years since Florida started the CCW ball rolling across the nation and the modern concealed carry revolution began. Since that time, the national pendulum has swung to the point of shall-issue carry laws being the rule rather than the exception. Even Illinois has joined the ranks of Right to Carry states, and it's possible that we could see permits issued in D.C. before the year is out. Things are good and looking even better for Americans who exercise their right to self-preservation by means of carrying a concealed firearm. At this stage, shall-issue is the most common method of issuance, with 40 states offering licenses without discretion as long as an applicant meets distinct criteria stated in the law. States with unrestricted concealed carry, other than Vermont, also issue permits on a shall-issue basis. Individuals can travel out of state and legally carry a concealed handgun in states with reciprocal agreements. Merely declaring a state as having Right to Carry does not mean that all things are perfect. The devil is often in the details, and all CCW laws are most certainly not created equal. As in "Best States for Concealed Carry 2013," we are ranking each state with updated legislative data to evaluate the places with the best and worst carry laws. To determine the best concealed carry states in 2014, we examined the following criteria and assigned numerical values to each category for a maximum of 95 points. In the event of a tie, we made determinations based on factors such as prohibited locations and transport laws. Keep in mind that we are specifically focusing on concealed carry rather than open carry.
- Method of Issuance: Permitless/Unrestricted = 25 Points - Also commonly known as Constitutional Carry, individuals can carry a concealed firearm without obtaining a license or permit. Shall-Issue = 20 Points - 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 = 5 Points - The granting authority may issue a permit at its discretion and usually requires "good cause" or a "significant reason" to carry a firearm. No-Issue/Restricted = 0 Points - Individuals cannot obtain a license to legally carry a concealed firearm.
- 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.
- 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.
- Application Fee: Application fees were scored with a maximum of 5 points based on the statutory annual cost paid by civilians to their state of residence to obtain the permit. In the past, fees were scored based on the total initial cost, but that was not a fair comparison since the duration of permit validity varies significantly from state to state. 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 concealed carry automatically earned the maximum number of points.
- Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine: States' scores were determined based on their laws are regarding self-defense in and out of the home and whether you're immune from civil prosecution in a self-defense situation. These scores reflect the same point values as the "Best States for Gun Owners 2014" unless the law has changed since that article was published. Maximum of 10 points.
- "Best States for Gun Owners 2014": To determine how generally gun friendly a state is, each was awarded up to 10 points based on their overall rank in our "Best States for Gun Owners 2014."
- Duty to Inform: States were awarded points based on whether individuals who are legally carrying are required to immediately inform a law enforcement/peace officer that 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.
- Preemption of Home-Rule: States were awarded points if state laws preempt local governing bodies from crafting their own legislation regarding concealed carry. In most states, preemption does not include local laws regarding the discharge of firearms within city limits. 5 points = State laws preempt local governing bodies from crafting their own laws. 0 points = Local governing bodies can make their own laws and are not subject to state preemption.
- Nonresident Permit Issuance: States earned points based on their method of issuance to nonresidents. 5 points = Permits are issued on a shall-issue basis to nonresidents. 2 points = Permits are issued on a may-issue basis to nonresidents. 0 points = Permits are not issued to nonresidents.
Find out where your state ranks compared to the rest of the country, and be sure to enter the debate.
*Editor's note: State-specific gun laws are a complicated 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. Be sure to reference specific state legislation(s) before carrying a concealed handgun in any state. 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 Sept. 22, 2014.