Best States for Concealed Carry 2014

Best States for Concealed Carry 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.


reciprocity

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.


training

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.

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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

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."


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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.

5. Florida

2013 Rank: 17
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 82

Florida started the modern Right to Carry movement when it passed its shall-issue CCW law in 1987. Since then, Florida has continued to move the ball forward by lowering fees, extending the length of time between renewals and expanding reciprocity. Florida issues fees to nonresidents, making it one of the most popular states for gun owners who want board reciprocity for traveling the U.S. The Sunshine State'™s use-of-force statues are a model for the nation.

6. North Dakota

2013 Rank: 9
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 9
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 80

Not only is North Dakota essentially carrying the U.S. economy on its back by virtue of its oil production, it is a great place to live for those who choose to carry a concealed handgun. North Dakota doesn'™t blow it out of the water in any one category; it'™s simply strong across the board, and those points add up. Fees are reasonable at $9 a year, most states recognize ND permits, and the state has a solid Stand Your Ground law. Permits are issued within 30 days to both residents and nonresidents, and North Dakota does well overall in our 'œGun Owners' category.

7. Vermont

2013 Rank: 5
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 9
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 79

In 1903, the Vermont Supreme Court legalized permitless concealed carry in its State v. Rosenthal decision; that decision remains in effect today. 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. For decades, Vermont was the only state that allowed handguns to be carried concealed without a permit. Though a few states have been added to those ranks recently, only in Vermont can you carry without so much as the option to obtain a resident permit. Of course, this hurts reciprocity, as states can'™t honor a permit that doesn'™t exist. Vermonters wishing to carry elsewhere must obtain nonresident permits from states such as Florida. Vermont scores well in every category except for reciprocity and permits for nonresidents. I know what you'™re thinking: How is Vermont behind states that require permits? The point system rewards Constitutional Carry, but it isn'™t the end-all for scoring. Don'™t hate the player; hate the game.

8. New Hampshire

2013 Rank: 4
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 78

Folks in the Granite State take their 'œLive Free or Die' motto seriously and have a decidedly un-New England CCW law. Though New Hampshire'™s reciprocity isn'™t much help in surrounding states (other than Vermont, of course), it'™s decent as far as the rest of the nation goes. Licenses must be issued within 14 days of an application, and if the application is denied, you must be given a written explanation as to why. The only place specified by state law where you can'™t carry a gun is in a courthouse, and the fee is less than $3 bucks a year. New Hampshire has one of the shortest enabling statutes in the nation for CCW, and in this case, less is more.

9. Wisconsin

2013 Rank: 20
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 78

Despite years of hard work by good people and a close call on an override of then-Governor Doyle'™s veto, Wisconsin was one of the last states in the Republic to issue CCW permits. The good news is that, once Wisconsinites did join the ranks of the legally armed, they did so under an excellent CCW statute. With decent reciprocity, a strong Castle Doctrine law, reasonable training standards and modest fees, the Wisconsin Personal Protection Act scores high. The list of prohibited locations is limited to government-type facilities, and the parking lots of those locations are exempt from the prohibitions.

10. Virginia

2013 Rank: 11
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 78

Though the Commonwealth of Virginia is only a dirty swim away from our nation'™s capital, the CCW laws couldn'™t be any further removed. Virginia earns strong points across the board in this contest, with strong reciprocity and Stand Your Ground laws and the ability for nonresidents to apply for permits. Prohibited locations are few in Virginia, and citizens can even carry concealed in the state Capitol building in Richmond. Carrying openly or concealed is allowed in restaurants and bars as long as no alcohol is consumed, which means that your designated driver can also serve as your bodyguard.

11. Kentucky

2013 Rank: 13
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 78

The Bluegrass State came in at number 5 in our 'œBest States for Gun Owners' rankings, which gives Kentucky maximum points in that category. Kentucky'™s training time cost it a few points, as did its policy of not issuing permits to nonresidents, but the training time is waived for the millions of Americans who have served in the armed forces. Bars, schools and government buildings are virtually the only places where carry is prohibited, and reciprocity with other states is excellent. Residents can apply for CCW permits electronically through the state police, a rare convenience not offered in many other states.

12. Texas

2013 Rank: 14
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 9
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 78

You can complain about the Texas heat, you can complain about traffic in Dallas and Houston, and you can complain about Texans not shutting up about Texas, but it'™s hard to complain about the Lone Star State'™s CCW laws. With great reciprocity, reasonable training time and strong use-of-force laws, Texas gets high marks in nearly every category. Permit fees are higher than average, but renewals are $40 cheaper than the initial license. The list of gun-free zones is about average, although property owners can post. You don'™t have to be a Texan to hold a Texas CCW permit; DPS issues them to nonresidents and residents alike.

13. Montana

2013 Rank: 12
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 78

Perhaps not surprisingly, open carry is legal in Montana, as is carrying concealed, though a permit is necessary for the latter. Montana scores highly for reciprocity, Castle Doctrine and as an overall state for gun owners. As for negatives, Montana law doesn'™t allow for CCW in banks or financial institutions, which is bad news when you'™re a small-business owner making cash deposits (ATM, drive-through window and night-deposit use are OK). Places where alcohol is cold for on-premises consumption such as bars and restaurants are also a no-go for permit holders. Fees are below average at $12.50 per year.

14. Indiana

2013 Rank: 10
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 77

Indiana is a strong state for CCW. Indianapolis is the only city in recent memory where attendees of the NRA annual meeting were allowed to carry inside the exhibit hall (previous bans had nothing to do with the NRA). Indiana has good reciprocity. Its permits are recognized in 29 states, while it recognizes all permits. The Hoosier State has issued permits with zero training time for years and is often used as an example by advocates since the lack of mandated training has not increased the rates of firearm accidents or improper firearm use among permit holders. Permits are issued to residents and nonresidents alike, and fees are low at only $10 per year.

15. Pennsylvania

2013 Rank: 7
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 76

Despite having two major metropolitan areas in the state, Pennsylvania does well in our contest. PA'™s low permit fees, training time and issuance of nonresident permits put it ahead of the pack. The list of prohibited locations is short, and public buildings must provide lockers in which citizens can secure their handguns. Reciprocity is good in Pennsylvania, though not among neighboring states, and the state has good use-of-force laws.

1. Arizona

2013 Rank: 1
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 93

Apparently, California politics aren'™t rubbing off too badly in Arizona since the Grand Canyon State tops every 'œBest of' category we come up with. Like Alaska, Arizona issues permits even though it doesn'™t require them for CCW. Arizona managed to score top marks in every category we used for this evaluation and also does well in the intangible categories such as locations where carry is prohibited. Permits, when they are desired, cost $60 for the first five years and $43 for subsequent renewals. Of course, since AZ does not require a permit, it gets a full 5 points in the fee category regardless of the permit'™s cost. Guns locked out of sight in privately owned vehicles, including motorcycles, cannot be prohibited by property owners or employers, whether public or private. As far as CCW goes, Arizona is as good as it gets and should serve as a model to other states that want to recognize the rights of their citizens and visitors.

4. Wyoming

2013 Rank: 3
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 7
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 83

Wyoming is one of a handful of states that allow CCW without a permit as long as you'™re not prohibited from possessing a firearm by state or federal law. When Wyoming passed 'œVermont-style' carry, it did not abandon its permit system, so its residents can carry legally outside of the Cowboy State. Wyoming permits issued by the Attorney General'™s office have broad reciprocity. The list of prohibited locations is short — essentially public buildings, schools and bars.

16. Idaho

2013 Rank: 31
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 4
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 75

Idaho recognizes permits from any state that issues them, and if you can'™t get a permit in your state, Idaho will issue you a nonresident license. Idaho actually issues two types of CCW permits, a standard permit and an enhanced permit. The enhanced permit has specific training requirements and gives the holder greater reciprocity in states that require such standards. With an enhanced permit, Idahoans can also carry on the campuses of colleges and universities, though specific rules can vary from school to school. Idaho does well in nearly all of our scoring categories except for the area of Stand Your Ground. Though case law in the Gem State establishes that there is no duty to retreat, no such statute is on the books.

17. Georgia

2013 Rank: 23
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 75

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation this summer that dramatically expands the rights of citizens to carry concealed in Georgia. Dubbed the 'œGuns Everywhere Bill' by opponents and the media, the new law removes many prohibited places from Georgia'™s CCW law, including bars and nonsterile areas of airport. Permits can be issued at age 18 for active-duty military now, and the state is prohibited from creating and keeping a database of CCW permit holders. The law also strengthened the state'™s preemption statute and created an absolute right to use deadly force in self-defense. Georgia loses some points for reciprocity; unfortunately, one can'™t even carry in neighboring South Carolina on a permit from the Peach State. Georgia'™s fees are right at the national median of $15 per year.

18. Alabama

2013 Rank: 8
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 75

Alabama is the Heart of Dixie and the heart of the pro-gun South. After years as one of a few fairly administered may-issue states, Alabama has implemented a shall-issue system through each county sheriff. 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 Alabama recognizes permits from nearly every state in the Union. Whereas most states take weeks or even months to process CCW applications, most Alabama sheriffs hand over permits in a matter of minutes.

19. South Dakota

2013 Rank: 21
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 75

It'™s pretty hard to beat South Dakota'™s gallery= 482-per-year permit fee; you can'™t fill a magazine full of ammo these days for that amount of money. South Dakota issues permits to 18-year-olds, unlike most states that require applicants to be 21. Prohibited locations are few — only schools, bars, courthouses and snowmobiles (that'™s right, no snowmobiles).

20. Mississippi

2013 Rank: 19
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 75

Mississippi gets 10 points for training time, has great reciprocity and good use-of-force laws. Its list of prohibited locations is pretty extensive and includes churches, the bar areas of restaurants and even parades, but that category is just for tie-breaking and doesn'™t cost you any points. Fees are pretty average at $20 annually, and Mississippi is an overall strong state for gun owners. Permits are issued to residents only, but permits from most other states are recognized, so that'™s a nonissue for most visitors.

21. Iowa

2013 Rank: 16
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 75

Iowa was a may-issue state for many years before adopting the current shall-issue standard. Iowa is perhaps a bit fortunate in that these rankings hit all of the right categories for Iowa'™s CCW strengths — reciprocity is strong, training time is minimal, and fees are low. Nonresident permits are issued, but Iowa does just average in our 'œGun Owners' category. One troubling factor in Iowa is a nebulous weapon-free zone in its statute that appears as if it would be easy to violate unintentionally. Otherwise, Iowa has a short list of prohibited locations.

22. Kansas

2013 Rank: 24
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 9
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 74

Kansas passed Right to Carry by overriding then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius'™ veto after a 12-year legislative effort. Since that victory in 2006, Kansas has continued to rack up legislative victories and gets max points in our 'œBest States for Gun Owners' category. Reciprocity is as good as it gets, and training time is reasonable. Kansas gets a perfect 10 for its Castle Doctrine law, which was passed the same year as CCW. Kansas'™ score is wrecked by its fees, which are well above average at $33 and change per year.

23. Tennessee

2013 Rank: 25
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 73

Tennessee is a pro-gun state with good overall gun laws and wins the four-way tie, thanks to the least expansive list of gun-free zones of the group. After a serious catfight in the Legislature a few years back, Tennessee allows CCW in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, though consumption of alcohol is prohibited. Restaurants can post, however, and many in Nashville do. The Volunteer State has excellent reciprocity and earns max points for its Stand Your Ground statute. Permits are only issued to residents, though, and the permit fees are high at $28.75 per year.

24. Washington

2013 Rank: 22
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 10
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 73

Washington gets max points in the training time and Castle Doctrine categories but has so-so reciprocity and doesn'™t rank very highly in our 'œGun Owners' lineup. Permit fees are very reasonable at $7 annually, and nonresident permits are available. Washington beats Missouri in a tie at 73 points due to its more reasonable list of prohibited locations.

25. Missouri

2013 Rank: 15
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 73

The Show Me State failed to pass CCW when it put it on the ballot, but it has had a shall-issue law for more than a decade. Missouri gets high marks for its use-of-force laws and its high ranking on our 'œBest States for Gun Owners' standings. Missouri has excellent reciprocity but only issues permits to residents. The annual permit fee of $33 per year is well above the national average. Missouri has a laundry list of locations where carry is prohibited.

26. South Carolina

2013 Rank: 18
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 73

As anyone who has traveled up and down I-95 with a gun knows, South Carolina'™s reciprocity leaves something to be desired. South Carolina only issues permits to residents and landowners; nonresident permits are not available. The Palmetto State gains points with a strong Stand Your Ground statute, low fees and good performance in the 'œBest States for Gun Owners' rankings. SC came in last in a four-way tie due to its extensive list of prohibited locations.

27. West Virginia

2013 Rank: 32
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 72

West Virginia has good reciprocity, which earns it high marks in our poll. It also has reasonable training requirements, as well as strong self-defense laws. Permits in the Mountain State are issued by county sheriffs, and the list of prohibited places is minimal — mostly schools and public buildings. West Virginia does not issue permits to nonresidents.

28. Oklahoma

2013 Rank: 30
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 71

The Sooner State is friendly to gun owners, as evidenced by its high marks in our 'œBest States for Gun Owners' rankings. Oklahoma gets maximum points for reciprocity, as it recognizes permits from all other U.S. states. The only categories where the state lacks are its higher-than-average fees, a duty to inform law enforcement and its resident-only permits. Oklahoma has a model use-of-force law, and Oklahomans can keep firearms legally locked in their cars regardless of the firearms policies of their employers.

29. Nevada

2013 Rank: 34
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 10
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 69

For being a huge tourist destination, Nevada doesn'™t honor many out-of-state permits — only 14. The good news is that Nevada'™s list of prohibited locations for carry is short, basically consisting of public buildings. Be aware that the vast majority of the state of Nevada is owned by the federal government, and different rules may apply. Nevada gets high marks for a reasonable training standard and issuing permits to nonresidents. Be aware that some Las Vegas locations such as casinos prohibit carry, and you may be asked to leave. Carrying in posted locations in Nevada is not technically against the law, but you could be charged with trespassing.

30. North Carolina

2013 Rank: 27
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 2
Castle Doctrine: 9
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 69

North Carolina gets strong points for its full recognition of out-of-state permits. Strong use-of-force laws and a good score on G&A'™s 'œBest States for Gun Owners' help North Carolina offset point deductions for the imposed duty to inform law enforcement and higher-than-average permit fees. Carry can be banned in individual businesses by the posting of a conspicuous notice, and carrying in the Governor'™s Mansion and Western Residence is specifically banned, so leave your gun at home if Pat McCrory invites you over. Permits can be obtained through the county sheriff and are available to residents only.

33. Colorado

2013 Rank: 40
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 6
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 66

Colorado'™s gun laws have become pretty Californiacated in recent years, but the CCW statute remains intact. For just more than $10 bucks per year, Coloradoans can obtain permits from their county sheriff. Colorado has strong reciprocity with other states and a reasonable training requirement. Colorado edges out Louisiana in a tiebreaker, as Colorado has very few prohibited places listed in its statute — schools and public buildings with security screening are the only restricted areas.

34. Louisiana

2013 Rank: 29
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 66

New Orleans is one of the most violent cities in the U.S. Thankfully, Louisiana law allows its citizens as well as permit holders from most other states to go heeled. Louisiana gets high marks for reciprocity and a strong Stand Your Ground statute, though it loses points for a higher-than-average fee. Permits are only issued to residents, and carry is prohibited where alcohol is served or permitted during parades, so leave your Glock in the hotel if you hit Mardi Gras. Better yet, don'™t go to Mardi Gras.

35. Nebraska

2013 Rank: 35
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 16
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 5
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 64

The Cornhusker State was one of the last four states in the nation to adopt a CCW law, and it has been improved since its initial passage in 2006. Permits are issued through the state patrol with a fee of $20 per year. Nonresident permits are not available, but Nebraska allows for broad recognition of permits from other states. Nebraska has middle-of-the-road self-defense laws but gains points due to reasonable training standards. The law is preemptive of local ordinances in places such as Omaha and Lincoln, but there is a duty in place to inform law enforcement.

36. Maine

2013 Rank: 33
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 8
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 5
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 63

Permits are available at age 18 in Maine and are a bargain at less than $10 per year. Though Maine is a shall-issue state, the statute does allow for the denial of a permit based on noncriminal 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. On the bright side, the only locations generally prohibited for carrying in Maine are schools.

37. Arkansas

2013 Rank: 26
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 5
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 62

As Southeastern states go, Arkansas is at the back of the pack when it comes to CCW. Though Arkansas is a shall-issue state with full recognition of out-of-state permits, it has relatively weak self-defense laws and allows property owners to prohibit carry with proper signage. One must obtain express permission to enter a private residence while carrying a concealed firearm in Arkansas. Fees are higher than 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 nonresidents.

38. Oregon

2013 Rank: 37
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 4
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 6
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 2
TOTAL: 61

Other than poor reciprocity, Oregon has strong CCW laws. Permits go for $12.50 per year and are obtained through the county sheriff. There is a competency standard set by statute, which includes hunter safety courses and NRA handgun courses, so training time is minimal. Competitive shooting experience and military service can also satisfy this requirement. Other than courthouses and schools, the only prohibited locations are those set by federal law. A firearm preemption statute is on the books, so the CCW laws apply equally in the urban areas.

39. Rhode Island

2013 Rank: 38
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 4
Training Time: 9
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 6
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 60

Rhode Island has the best CCW laws in the Northeast until you get to New Hampshire, Maine and, of course, Vermont. Rhode Island'™s shall-issue permits are issued through the Attorney General to qualified residents and nonresidents alike. Fees are only $10 annually for the four-year permit, and a handgun can be carried anywhere that it is not prohibited by federal law. Poor reciprocity and so-so use-of-force laws are the only real weaknesses of the Rhode Island permit.

40. New Mexico

2013 Rank: 41
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 5
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 5
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 59

New Mexico is the only state we identified that restricts permitees from carrying more than one handgun at a time, so leave your backup gun in Arizona. Permits are issued to residents by the Department of Public Safety on a shall-issue basis and are valid for four years. Oddly, New Mexico permits indicate the maximum caliber of handgun that can be carried by the individual. Initial training as well as refresher training is required, and the fees compute to $25 per year, which is on the high side of the median. The list of prohibited carry locations is mostly limited to schools and tribal lands, but New Mexico has mediocre use-of-force statutes.

41. Ohio

2013 Rank: 39
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 14
Training Time: 5
Application Fee: 3
Castle Doctrine: 7
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 58

The 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 nonresidents. The 12-hour training requirement is not ideal, nor is the list of prohibited locations that includes churches and posted locations. Permit fees are minimal, coming out to $13.40 per year.

42. Illinois

2013 Rank: 42
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 0
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 9
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 41

Thanks to a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that forced the Legislature to pass a shall-issue CCW bill, citizens are legally carrying concealed handguns in all corners of Illinois. While not the greatest CCW law in the land, it is light years ahead of where things were just over a year ago. Permits cost $150 and are valid for five years, while nonresident permits can be obtained for $300. The burdensome 16-hour training requirement is on the high end as Right to Carry states go, but Illinois does have strong self-defense laws. The best part is that the law is preemptive, so permit holders can legally carry in Chicago, much to the chagrin of local leaders.

43. Connecticut

2013 Rank: 45
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 7
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 2
TOTAL: 38

A permit is required to carry a handgun anywhere outside one'™s home, to include one'™s yard or even to transport a handgun to the shooting range. One must first obtain a local permit before petitioning the state for a Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers. Permits are, of course, issued on a may-issue basis but are considered easier to obtain than in most neighboring states. Generally speaking, if you are qualified to receive a permit in CT, your application will be granted. Connecticut does issue permits to nonresidents but does not recognize permits from other jurisdictions.

31. Michigan

2013 Rank: 36
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 7
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 8
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 68

Michigan'™s greatest strength as a CCW state is its reciprocity. Outside of the Northeast, only California, Illinois, Hawaii and Oregon refuse to honor Michigan CCW permits. Michigan has strong use-of-force laws, which is good news if you live in the Motor City. Michigan loses points for higher-than-average permit fees and a duty to inform law enforcement when carrying. Prohibited locations include hospitals, casinos, large sporting events and most restaurants. Parents dropping their kids off at school may carry legally as long as they stay in their car.

32. Minnesota

2013 Rank: 28
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 12
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 4
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 68

Minnesota law doesn'™t enumerate many prohibited locations. Reciprocity with other states is minimal, but use-of-force statues are far better than average. Minnesota'™s score gets a boost from reasonable training requirements and the issuance of nonresident permits. There'™s no duty to inform law enforcement that you'™re carrying unless they ask.

44. Delaware

2013 Rank: 44
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 10
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 1
Castle Doctrine: 8
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 36

Delaware may be a haven for banking due to its tax laws, but it'™s no gem when it comes to CCW laws. Delaware'™s may-issue permits are issued by the Superior Court and require things such as a certificate signed by five 'œreputable citizens' attesting to the applicant'™s reputation for peace and good order (so much for the 21st century). On the bright side, the price of the permit is low at just over $20 per year, and Delaware has decent reciprocity as Mid-Atlantic states go. Strong self-defense laws and state firearms preemption make Delaware a decent state to carry in if you can get a permit. Disreputable citizens need not apply.

45. Massachussets

2013 Rank: 47
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 2
Castle Doctrine: 5
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 2
TOTAL: 35

The Bay State uses a may-issue permit system where a Class A license serves as a permit to both purchase and carry a concealed firearm. To obtain a permit, an application is made through the local police department and requires proof of training. Temporary nonresident permits are issued through the state police and are valid for a year. Massachusetts does not recognize permits from other states. Individuals carrying a firearm have a duty to inform law enforcement when stopped, and there is no statewide preemption, so individual municipalities can regulate where a firearm is allowed.

46. New York

2013 Rank: 46
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 6
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 3
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 2
TOTAL: 34

New York doesn'™t make things very simple when it comes to carrying a handgun; various types of carry permits are issued depending on whether the applicant desires to carry his handgun within a specific business or in public. If a license is issued, it is not valid within New York City, which has its own restrictive permit system. Though state law mandates a fee, which works out to only gallery= 482 per year, New York City permits cost $340 annually. The Empire State does not recognize permits from any other states, while New Yorkers with permits can carry in 21 states.

47. Maryland

2013 Rank: 43
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 5
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 2
TOTAL: 30

Though a lawsuit gave folks a glimmer of hope that a reasonable CCW law would be forced upon the state, the favorable ruling by the lower court was reversed upon appeal. To obtain a permit through Maryland'™s state police, the applicant must demonstrate that obtaining the permit is a 'œreasonable precaution against apprehended danger,' which seems to be a nearly impossible standard to meet. 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.

48. New Jersey

2013 Rank: 48
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 2
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 2
TOTAL: 26

Applications for a carry permit are made to the chief of police and must be approved by a Superior Court Judge. Applicants must demonstrate 'œjustifiable need,' as well as evidence of good character and competency. If a permit is granted, it is valid for two years and recognized in 18 states, none of which borders New Jersey. The cost of a permit is a reasonable $10 per year.

49. Hawaii

2013 Rank: 49
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 4
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 26

Hawaii is far from a paradise when it comes to obtaining a carry permit. Those wishing to obtain a permit must demonstrate sufficient indication of urgency to their respective chief of police. Permits are not often issued, but when they are, the cost is only $10, and they are valid for one year. Hawaii does not recognize permits from other states.

50. California

2013 Rank: 50
Permit Issuance: 5
Reciprocity: 6
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 6
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 24

California law allows for a may-issue permit system controlled by the sheriff of each county. In some counties, permits are issued frequently, while in other areas, permits are nearly impossible to obtain. Requirements for obtaining a permit vary from county to county, as do permit fees. As an example, permits in San Diego County cost $46.50 per year, and permitees are limited to carrying up to three specific firearms with which they have qualified at the sheriff'™s range. California permits are honored in numerous states, though California does not honor permits from any other jurisdiction.

51. Washington, D.C.

2013 Rank: 51
Permit Issuance: 0
Reciprocity: 0
Training Time: 0
Application Fee: 0
Castle Doctrine: 0
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 2
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 0
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 2

Though a recent court decision appears to have opened the door to the prospect of legal concealed carry in our nation'™s capital, for now, the District remains a 'œno go' for CCW. A U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the petitioner in Palmer v. D.C., striking down Washington'™s 92-year-old ban on carrying handguns. The judge in the case stayed the ruling for 90 days in order to give D.C. time to draft an ordinance, so things are currently on hold. That stay expires on October 22, 2014, unless the District'™s request for an extension is granted. Stay tuned; hopefully, we'™ll see good news for the citizens who would like to defend themselves in one of the most violent cities in the U.S.

2. Utah

2013 Rank: 2
Permit Issuance: 20
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 8
Application Fee: 4
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 5
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 5
TOTAL: 85

Utah gets the highest score of any state that requires CCW permits. Not coincidentally, Utah scored near the top of the heap in our 'œBest States for Gun Owners' lineup as well. Utah permits are widely recognized, and Utah accepts permits from any issuing state. Permits are inexpensive at less than $10 per year, and renewals are even less at only $3 annually. Carrying is prohibited in 'œsecure locations,' but that list is short and requires posted notice.

3. Alaska

2013 Rank: 6
Permit Issuance: 25
Reciprocity: 18
Training Time: 10
Application Fee: 5
Castle Doctrine: 10
Best States for Gun Owners 2014: 10
Duty to Inform: 0
Preemption: 5
Issued to Non-Res: 0
TOTAL: 83

Alaska is one of two states that offers the best of both worlds: recognition of the individual right to carry a concealed firearm without permission from the government and the ability to obtain a permit so that Alaskans can enjoy reciprocity when they travel abroad. The vast majority of states recognize Alaskan permits. However, its closest neighbors in Washington and Oregon do not recognize them. The only areas where Alaska loses points is the duty to inform law enforcement that one is carrying and the lack of nonresident permits, which is a nonissue since a permit holder with a valid permit from other jurisdictions is, by statute, considered an Alaska permit holder.

*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.

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