Concealed carry or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) is the practice of carrying a weapon, such as a handgun, in public in a concealed manner. Not all weapons that fall under concealed carry laws are lethal. For example, pepper spray over 2 ounces in Florida requires a permit.
There is no federal law concerning the issuance of concealed carry permits, but all 50 states have passed their own laws allowing qualified individuals to carry specific concealed firearms in public. States decide whether to allow concealed carry without a permit or require one. Some states make it very difficult to obtain permits. Nearly every state, gearing of its permit/license laws, places some restrictions on where concealed firearms can be carried, typically on carrying in bars, hospitals, schools, and public sporting events. State regulations regarding the issuance of concealed carry permits generally fall under one of four categories: unrestricted, shall-issue, may-issue, and no issue.
In addition to issuance policies, more than half of the states and the District of Columbia reunite a CCW permit applicant to demonstrate that they have received training in firearm use and safety. This can include knowledge and safe handling of firearms and ammunition, safe shooting fundamentals, federal and state laws regarding lawful purchase and ownership, state laws about self-defense and use of deadly force, and safe storage of firearms and ammunition and child safety. Among the shall-issue states, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas require live firing as part of the firearm training component.
A shall-issue policy for concealed carry means that individuals are required to have a license to carry a concealed handgun and the granting of such licenses is subject only to meeting specific criteria. Additionally, the granting authority has no discretion in the awarding of the licenses and there is no requirement of the applicant to demonstrate “good cause.”
In contrast with a may-issue jurisdiction, a shall-issue jurisdiction’s law state that the granting authority shall issue a license if the specified criteria are met. In a may-issue jurisdiction, however, the granting authority may issue a license at their discretion. There are 27 shall-issue states in the U.S. Despite being shall-issue states, however, 14 provide the granting authority a limited amount of discretion. 13 states do no permit any discretion.
The 14 limited discretion shall-issue states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Virginia. The 13 no discretion shall-issue states are: Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.