Guns & The Law - Overview
As I am not a lawyer or capable of keeping current on the laws in all states, I will use links to the Bureau of ATF (Alcoholic, Tobacco and Firearms), the NRA and other sites that are very reliable and current. It is your responsibility to utilize these links and the information they provide to fully understand the legal issues. You will have to do quite a bit of reading and website hopping, but this is the only way to insure you are getting accurate and timely information. The laws change, so it is imperative that you stay current with what is happening in your state.
Let's start with an overview of the who and the what of firearm regulation
The sale and purchase of firearms on the federal level is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). Formally known as ATF. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the bureau was transferred to the newly-created Department of Homeland Security. The BATFE regulates only federal firearms laws; your state or local laws may prohibit activities which are legal under federal law. http://www.atf.gov/
First, lets take a look at the Federal Laws.
The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), ruled that the Second Amendment protects "the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment."
There are 40 Right-to-Carry states: 37 have "shall issue" laws, requiring that carry permits be issued to applicants who meet uniform standards established by the state legislature.
- ATF - http://www.atf.gov/regulations-rulings/laws/
- NRA - http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/articles/2012/nra-ila-firearms-fact-card-2012.aspx
STATE GUN LAWS
This is a great interactive link with the NRA in which you can click on your state and find the state laws - http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-laws.aspx Scroll down the page to get to the map.
State Laws and Published Ordinances ATF - http://www.atf.gov/publications/download/p/atf-p-5300-5/atf-p-5300-5.pdf On this site, there is a list (on the right) with links to the laws of each state.
Compendium of State Gun Laws http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/articles/2010/compendium-of-state-firearms-laws.aspx?s=&st=&ps=
RIGHT TO CARRY
There are 42 Right-to-Carry states: Many have "shall issue" laws, requiring that carry permits be issued to applicants who meet uniform standards established by the state legislature.
The laws are always changing. Do not rely on the map image above, check your state for current laws
Concealed Carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a firearm in public in a concealed manner, either on one's person or in proximity.
There is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, these are regulated at the state level. Currently, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local and/or law enforcement. There are multiple terms used for these permits in different states, such as Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL) and perhaps others.
State regulations relating to concealed carry permits generally fall into four categories described as Unrestricted, Shall Issue, May issue and No Issue.
You can find your state's specific laws and CCW requirements at Handgun Law dot US.
Some states require training classes and the classes will vary from state to state, typically they are 4 to 8 hr. courses.
- Unrestricted jurisdiction is one in which no permit is required to carry a concealed handgun.
- Shall Issue jurisdiction is one that requires a permit to carry a concealed handgun, but is subject only to meeting certain criteria laid out in the law; the granting authority has no discretion in the awarding of the permits. Typically these laws state that a granting authority shall issue a permit if the criteria are met, as opposed to laws in which the authority may issue a permit at their discretion.
- May Issue jurisdiction is one that requires a permit to carry a concealed handgun, and the granting of these permits is partially at the discretion of local authorities (frequently the sheriffs department or the police). The law typically states that a granting authority "may issue" a permit if various criteria are met. While an applicant must qualify for a permit by meeting criteria defined in state law, local jurisdictions in May-Issue states often have locally-defined requirements that an applicant must meet before a permit will be granted, such as providing adequate justification to the approval authority for needing a concealed carry permit. Issuing authorities in May-Issue states often charge arbitrarily-defined fees and can sometimes make the CCW permit unaffordable to most applicants.
- No Issue jurisdiction is one that does not allow any private citizen to carry a concealed handgun.