Which States Are Open Carry? Exploring the Laws, Pros, and Cons of Carrying Firearms in Public

Which States Are Open Carry? Exploring the Laws, Pros, and Cons of Carrying Firearms in Public

Open carry, the practice of carrying a firearm in plain sight or in a visible holster, is legal in many states in the United States. While open carry can be a controversial issue, it is important for everyone to understand the laws, regulations, and cultural implications that surround the practice.

Beginner’s Guide to Open Carry

As of 2021, 31 states in the United States permit open carry, while 19 states prohibit the practice. The states that do permit open carry have varying laws and regulations that govern the practice. In some states, open carry is only permitted in certain areas, such as rural regions, whereas other states allow open carry anywhere that is not otherwise prohibited.

States that permit open carry

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

States that prohibit open carry

California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

It is important to note that even in states that permit open carry, there may be restrictions on the types of firearms that can be carried, where they can be carried, and who is allowed to carry them. It is essential to check the laws and regulations in your own state and local area before attempting to open carry a firearm. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action provides a resource for checking open carry laws by state here.

Pros and Cons of Open Carry

There are arguments both for and against open carry laws in the United States. Supporters of open carry argue that it is a fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that it deters crime by signaling to would-be criminals that citizens are armed and prepared to defend themselves.

Those who are against open carry argue that it can make people feel unsafe, lead to confusion for law enforcement, and cause unnecessary fear and intimidation. They also point to the potential for accidents and the risks associated with firearms ending up in the hands of those who are not properly trained or mentally stable.

There have been notable incidents related to open carry, including protests and demonstrations where firearms have been openly carried, as well as situations where open carry has led to confrontations or even violence. The cultural implications of open carry are complex, as it involves questions of individual rights, public safety, and the role of firearms in American society.

History of Open Carry Laws in America

In the early days of the United States, open carry of firearms was generally permitted and accepted. However, as the country grew and industrialized, attitudes towards guns shifted, leading to increased regulation around where and how firearms could be carried.

In the 1960s and ’70s, attitudes began to shift again, and there was a movement to restore gun rights to their former status. This led to the creation of “shall-issue” concealed carry laws, which made it easier for citizens to carry firearms in public. In some states, this also paved the way for open carry laws to be relaxed or repealed, allowing for the practice to become more widespread.

Notable legal cases related to open carry include the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes, including self-defense. Additionally, the 2010 McDonald v. Chicago case extended the Heller decision to apply to states and cities as well.

Cultural Impact of Open Carry

Attitudes towards open carry vary widely across different regions of the United States. In some areas, it is seen as a fundamental right and a way to protect oneself and one’s community, whereas in other areas, it is viewed as a dangerous and unnecessary practice. As such, the cultural implications of open carry are complex and layered.

There are also consequences for individuals and communities associated with open carry laws. It can lead to increased fear and anxiety for those who are not comfortable around firearms, and it can also introduce the potential for accidents or misuse of firearms. On the other hand, proponents of open carry argue that it can help deter crime and make communities safer by giving citizens the ability to defend themselves when necessary.

Expert Perspective on Open Carry Laws

To gain a deeper understanding of open carry laws and their impact, it is essential to consult experts in the field. Legal experts, such as lawyers and law enforcement officials, are well-versed in the laws and regulations surrounding open carry, and they can provide valuable insight into the reasoning behind these policies.

In addition, there has been research conducted on the impact of open carry laws on public safety, gun violence, and crime rates. While the results are mixed, some studies have suggested a positive correlation between open carry laws and a decrease in crime rates.


Open carry is a complex issue that involves questions of individual rights, public safety, and cultural attitudes towards firearms. While it is legal in many states in the United States, there are also states where it is prohibited or heavily regulated. To best understand and engage with this issue, it is essential to consult local laws and regulations, as well as to seek out expert opinions and research on the topic.

By staying informed and engaged, individuals can better understand their own opinions on open carry and work towards creating policies that promote both individual rights and public safety.

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