The Continuing Expansion of Permitless Carry

One of the books I am using in class this semester was published in 2014, which in the academic world is fairly recent. But in the world of concealed carry laws, it is ancient. The authors of my text observed that five states at the time did not require a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun (Vermont, Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas*, Wyoming).

In the past 5 years, 10 additional states have passed permitless carry laws, including South Dakota and Oklahoma just this year (2019). Because of this, John Richardson of the “No Lawyers Only Guns and Money” blog has published an updated version of a graphic created by Rob Vance showing the growing share of the US population that lives in states with more liberal (shall issue or “unrestricted”**) permitting regimes.

Graphic by Rob Vance, published at

As John notes in his original blog post,

Going back to 1986, over 90% of Americans lived in states with either no carry permitted or may-issue carry permits. By contrast, approximately two-thirds of all Americans live in a state with either shall-issue permits or constitutional carry [today].

We are well into the into a 4th stage in the development of concealed weapons laws centered on the expansion of permitless carry.

If you’re interested in reviewing the history of concealed carry laws in the US, among my most popular posts on this blog historically are a series of entries on that topic:



*I have not historically considered Arkansas a permitless carry state — especially not back in 2014 — since the law provided for carrying without a permit when “journeying” beyond one’s home county. Some legislation and a court ruling in 2018 has led some to classify Arkansas as constitutional carry, but the fact that a state legislator introduced legislation in February 2019 declaring Arkansas to be a permitless carry state suggests the issue is not yet resolved.

**I don’t care for the language of “unrestricted” here because there are still many restrictions on carrying concealed even in permitless carry states.


  1. It’s interesting how this is changing. Personally, I’m not such a big fan of permitless or constitutional carry. It’s not that I think it will lead to more crime, at least to a significant degree. It’s that the shall permitting systems, which I think it best, almost all force the applicant to take some kind of training class, frequently with components that include a better legal understanding of justifiable use of deadly force, conflict de-escalation, and the consequences of using deadly force in self-defense. This education component is important for people to understand, and if I had the choice, I would have it taught in public schools.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Looking at the chart, we are seeing an evolution from shall-issue to permitless, but have apparently hit the wall (floor?) on switching the few remaining may-issue states to shall-issue by statute. Illinois required a court ruling, and I don’t see Hawaii, California, and the New England remnant requiring anything less


    • Seems very unlikely that current may issue states will become shall issue, which is significant because they are some very big population states (California, New York included). Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is a Supreme Court decision restricting the amount of discretion may issue jurisdictions can use in issuing permits.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Rob Vance - the author of this chart, and sadly reminded how many of you don't believe in the 2nd Amendment and FREEDOM says:

    I love the language of “unrestricted” here because I coined it. I’m the guy who came up with this chart and where the hell have you all been when the folks who could not read the plain English of “bear” in the 2nd Amendment were passing all those f_____g laws. Either you trust your fellow citizens to know the law or not. It’s all about power and trust, and if you don’t show trust (as in getting the government out of the business of permitting self-defense) then get the h__l out of the way of the rest of us.


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