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In the United States, open carry refers to the practice of "openly carrying a firearm in public", as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer. The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years. This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice. Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons, a stark contrast to the law-abiding citizens who display their sidearms. Encouraged by groups like The Modern American Revolution, OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years, but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.
The gun rights community has become supportive of the practice. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation has been cautious in expressing support, while groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, and certain national groups such as the NRA and Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.
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Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:
In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality. The following chart lists state policies for openly carrying a loaded handgun in public.
|Jurisdiction||Permissive||Permissive w/ local restrictions||Licensed||Anomalous||Non-
|Alabama||||Open carry without permit allowed. Permit required if carrying in vehicle. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Alaska||Open carry without permit allowed.|
|Open carry legal for holders of a valid License to Possess which are required to purchase and possess firearms; though Licenses to Possess have been restricted to only shotguns and rimfire rifles since 1991, effectively banning handguns. Licenses issued for handguns and other firearms prior to 1991 are grandfathered as long as they remain valid.|
|Arizona||Open carry without permit allowed. State law does not preempt tribal laws on Native American reservations, except when traversing a reservation on a state-owned highway. Some tribes do not permit open carry, while some others may require a tribal permit for open carry.|
|Arkansas||The legal status of open carry without a license has been considered a gray area since 2013 until 2015 when an Attorney General opinion was issued stating open carry was indeed legal. Despite this there were still questions over the law until 2017, when Governor Asa Hutchinson sent an order to the Arkansas State Police stating open carry was legal. Prior to 2013 it was unlawful to open carry a handgun in Arkansas even with a conceal carry license.|
|California||Open carry legal in rural counties with local ordinances allowing open carry. Some of these counties issue a permit for open carry. Additionally, a person may also open carry if he or she "reasonably believes that any person or the property of any person is in immediate, grave danger and that the carrying of the weapon is necessary for the preservation of that person or property." One can expect to be detained and questioned by law enforcement in most urban areas if using the latter rationale as the basis for openly carrying a firearm in public.|
|Colorado||Open carry without a license permitted statewide, except in the City and County of Denver where open carry is completely prohibited.|
|Connecticut||Open carry of handguns allowed with Connecticut State Pistol Permit; permits issued on a May-Issue basis, but in practice Shall-Issue. Open carry of long guns allowed without permit but several localities restrict and prohibit open carry. Persons with a State Pistol Permit exempt from local restrictions per court rulings.|
|Delaware||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|District of Columbia||Open carry prohibited. Open carry was briefly legal from July 27, 2015 to July 29, 2015 due to a court ruling.|
|Florida||||Open carry of all firearms prohibited.|
|Georgia||Open carry of handguns allowed with permit; permits issued on a Shall-Issue basis. Open carry of long guns allowed without a permit.|
|Guam||Open Carry allowed with FOID.|
|Hawaii||In practice||Open carry of handguns allowed with permit; permits issued on a May-Issue basis but in practice are No-Issue. Permits only valid in county of issuance. Local restrictions preempted. Open carry of long guns prohibited.|
|Idaho||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Illinois||||Open carry theoretically legal in unincorporated areas, however per Attorney General opinion open carry is prohibited.|
|Indiana||Open carry of handguns allowed with permit; permits granted on a Shall Issue basis. Local restrictions preempted. No permit required to carry long guns.|
|Iowa||Open carry allowed without permit outside city limits. Permit required inside city limits. Permits are issued on a Shall Issue basis.|
|Kansas||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Kentucky||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Louisiana||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Maine||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Maryland||In practice||Open carry of handguns allowed with permit; permits issued on a May-Issue basis but in practice are No-Issue. Open carry of long guns allowed without permit. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Massachusetts||Open carry allowed with Massachusetts Unrestricted License to Carry; permits issued by local authorities on a May-Issue basis. Local restrictions preempted. Open carry of long guns prohibited.|
|Michigan||||Open carry allowed without permit. Permit required if carrying in vehicle; permits issued on a Shall-Issue basis. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Minnesota||Open carry allowed with a permit; permits issued on a Shall-Issue basis. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Mississippi||Open carry of handguns allowed without permit; permits issued on a Shall-Issue basis. No permit required to carry a long gun. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Missouri||||Open carry without permit allowed. However, several cities and counties restrict open carry, at which point one must carry concealed, which is also allowed without a permit and localities are preempted. Persons with a concealed carry permit are exempt from local restrictions on open carry.|
|Montana||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Nebraska||Open carry allowed without permit except in Omaha, which restricts open carry of a loaded handgun. Persons with a concealed carry permit or an Omaha open carry permit are exempt from local restrictions. No local restrictions on open carry of long guns.|
|Nevada||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted. Carrying loaded long guns in a vehicle prohibited.|
|New Hampshire||||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|New Jersey||In practice||Open carry of handguns allowed with a New Jersey Permit To Carry A Handgun; permits issued on a May-Issue basis but in practice are No-Issue. Open carry of unloaded long guns allowed with a New Jersey Firearm Identification Card.|
|New Mexico||Open carry allowed without permit. State law does not preempt tribal laws on Native American reservations, except when traversing a reservation on a state-owned highway. Some tribes do not permit open carry, while some others may require a tribal permit for open carry.|
|New York||Open carry of pistols and loaded long guns prohibited. Open carry of unloaded long guns allowed without permit except in New York City.|
|North Carolina||Open carry allowed without permit. Local restrictions preempted.|
|North Dakota||Open carry of loaded handguns allowed with permit. Open carry of unloaded handguns during daytime (one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset) allowed without permit. No license required for open carry of long guns. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||De Facto||De Jure||Open carry and ownership of handguns prohibited by law but declared unconstitutional and not enforced.|
|Ohio||Open carry allowed without permit. Permit required if carrying a loaded firearm in vehicle; No permit required if unloaded and in plain sight.  Local restrictions preempted.|
|Oklahoma||Open carry with permit allowed. Open carry of an unloaded handgun in a vehicle without permit allowed. Residents of states that do no require permits for concealed carry may openly carry with a valid ID proving residence. Open carry of long guns prohibited except during hunting season. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Oregon||Open carry without permit allowed. However, several cities and one county restrict open carry of loaded firearms. Restrictions on carrying unloaded firearms preempted. Persons with an Oregon Concealed Handgun License exempt from local restrictions.|
|Pennsylvania||Open carry without permit allowed. Permit required if carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle. Permit required if carrying in Philadelphia. All other local restrictions preempted.|
|Rhode Island||Open carry of handguns allowed with a Rhode Island Attorney General's Office Pistol Permit; Issued on a may-issue basis. No permit required to carry long guns. Local restrictions preempted.|
|South Carolina||Open carry of a handgun is prohibited. Open carry of long guns without permit is allowed. Local restrictions preempted.|
|South Dakota||Open carry allowed without a permit. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Tennessee||Open carry of handguns allowed with permit. Open carry of long guns prohibited. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Texas||Open carry of handguns allowed with permit as long as it is in a belt or shoulder holster. Licenses granted on a Shall-Issue basis. Open carry of long guns allowed without a permit. Local restrictions preempted.|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Open carry is prohibited.|
|Utah||Permit required to open carry a chambered firearm. Open carry of an unchambered handgun allowed without permit. No permit required in a vehicle for loaded handguns or unloaded long guns. Loaded long guns in vehicles are prohibited. No permit required to open carry long guns.|
|Vermont||Requiring any type of gun permit to carry is prohibited by state constitution.|
|Virginia||Open carry allowed without a permit. Local restrictions on carrying Assault Weapons. Persons with a concealed carry permit are exempt from local restrictions.|
|Washington||Open carry without permit allowed. Local restrictions preempted. Permit required if carrying a loaded handgun in vehicle. Carrying loaded long guns in a vehicle prohibited."RCW 77.15.460: Loaded rifle or shotgun in vehicle – Unlawful use or possession – Unlawful use of a loaded firearm – Penalty". Apps.leg.wa.gov. 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2016-03-10.</ref>|
|West Virginia||May open carry without a license. Local restrictions preempted.|
|Wisconsin||Open carry allowed without a permit. Permit required if carrying a loaded handgun in vehicle. Local restrictions preempted.
Section 32 of 2011 Wisconsin Act 35 (codified as Wis. Stat. 167.31(2)(b)), purportedly removed the vehicle carry restriction for handguns. However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a license is required to have a loaded handgun within reach in a vehicle, because being "within reach" constitutes carrying as per the Concealed Carry Act, regardless of the Safe Transport Statue removing restrictions on transporting loaded handguns.
|Wyoming||Open carry allowed without a permit. Local restrictions preempted.|
Open carry has never been authoritatively addressed by the United States Supreme Court. The most obvious predicate for a federal "right" to do so would arise under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; "We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." However, Scalia continued, "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
Forty five states' constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of keeping or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states' constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.
Section 1.7  of Kentucky's state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting "concealed carry".
In 2015, former Florida congressman Allen West opined, regarding the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, "Using the same 'due process clause' argument as the Supreme Court just applied to gay marriage, my concealed carry permit must now be recognized as valid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia." This opinion echoes reasoning contained in an Amicus curiae brief in Obergefell. Others have indicated support or expressed skepticism for this line of reasoning.
KCC10.12.080 Amendment: It is unlawful to shoot, fire or explode any firearm, firecracker, fireworks, torpedo or explosive of any kind
or to carry any firearmor to shoot or fire any air gun, BB gun, bow and arrow or use any slingshot in any park, except the park director may authorize archery, slinging, fireworks and firing of small bore arms at designated times and places suitable for their use.
Four states, the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia fully prohibit the open carry of handguns. On the other extreme, twenty-five states permit open carry of a handgun without requiring the citizen to apply for any permit or license. Fifteen states require some form of permit (often the same permit as allows a person to carry concealed), and the remaining five states, though not prohibiting the practice in general, do not preempt local laws or law enforcement policies, and/or have significant restrictions on the practice, such as prohibiting it within the boundaries of an incorporated urban area. Illinois allows open carry on private property only.
On October 11, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law that it would be a "misdemeanor to openly carry an exposed and unloaded handgun in public or in a vehicle." This does not apply to the open carry of rifles or long guns or persons in rural areas where permitted by ordinance.
On November 1, 2011, Wisconsin explicitly acknowledged the legality of open carry by amending its disorderly conduct statute (Wis. Stat. 947.01). A new subsection 2 states "Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading, carrying, or going armed with a firearm, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or is concealed or openly carried."
On May 15, 2012, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1733, an amendment to the Oklahoma Self Defense Act, which will allow people with Oklahoma concealed weapons permits to open carry if they so choose. The law took effect November 1, 2012. "Under the measure, businesses may continue to prohibit firearms to be carried on their premises. SB 1733 prohibits carrying firearms on properties owned or leased by the city, state or federal government, at corrections facilities, in schools or college campuses, liquor stores and at sports arenas during sporting events."
The Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 limits where a person may legally carry a firearm by generally prohibiting carry within 1000 ft of the property line of any K-12 school in the nation, with private property excluded. A state-issued permit to carry may exempt a person from the restriction depending on the laws of the state, and most issuing states qualify for the exception. However, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the exception in federal law is inapplicable to permit holders outside the state that physically issued their permit, and it does not exempt people with out-of-state permits even if the permit is recognized by state reciprocity agreements. BATFE letter explaining reciprocity of CCW permit holders and how it applies to Gun-Free School Zones.
In a 1995 Supreme Court case, the Act was declared unconstitutional: "The Court today properly concludes that the Commerce Clause does not grant Congress the authority to prohibit gun possession within 1,000 feet of a school, as it attempted to do in the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, Pub. L. 101-647, 104 Stat. 4844." 
The law was reenacted in the slightly different form, in 1996.
Even in some "open carry" states, businesses are allowed to ban guns in their stores. And some have, creating political confrontations with gun owners. But Starbucks, the largest chain targeted, has refused to take the bait, saying in a statement this month that it follows state and local laws and has its own safety measures in its stores.
The "open carry" movement, in which gun owners carry unconcealed handguns as they go about their everyday business, is loosely organized around the country but has been gaining traction in recent months. Gun-control advocates have been pushing to quash the movement, including by petitioning the Starbucks coffee chain to ban guns on its premises. Anti-gun activists gathered at the original Starbucks in Seattle to push retailers like the coffee chain to ban customers from openly carrying guns, WSJ's Nick Wingfield reports. Businesses have the final say on their property. But the ones that don't opt to ban guns – such as Starbucks – have become parade grounds of sorts for open-carry advocates.
Today, a group of gun-rights advocates will exercise their Second Amendment rights by congregating in the plaza with unloaded firearms in plain view. Bay Area members of the national "open carry" movement said they chose the city in part because it is one of the few in the state that has a municipal ban on gun possession. Don't expect any '60s-style confrontations with authorities, however. Palo Alto officials said Friday they will not attempt to enforce the city's ordinance, since it is superseded by state law allowing people to carry guns openly as long as they're not loaded. "We're not going to try to fight state law on this," said Palo Alto police Lt. Sandra Brown. "We're just going to let it happen."
Organizers are encouraging gun rights supporters to bring unloaded rifles to rallies at state capitols across the U.S. this weekend... Illinois officials, however, are reminding people coming to the planned rally in Springfield on Saturday that it is illegal to carry firearms – loaded or unloaded – out in the open in the state. "Illinois is not an open-carry state," said Beth Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Secretary of State's Office... "They've been advised to not bring firearms to the event."
This Court will be in a position of having to explain how voter approved state prohibitions on one unenumerated, unrecognized right (same sex marriage) constitute a violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, yet enumerated Constitutional rights are not befitting the same protections and, in fact, state or local regulations on such rights can be so pervasive as to prohibit the right from being exercised in a meaningful way. ... The most obvious example is the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. One day, this Court will have to explain how sweeping restrictions on every aspect of firearms ownership and use can be upheld yet traditional and long-standing regulations on marriage cannot be tolerated in any form or in any jurisdiction.Greendorfer's argument was subsequently expanded in his paper, "After Obergefell: Dignity for the Second Amendment", 35 Miss. C. L. Rev 128 (2016), SSRN 2652536
About 70 people, who want a concealed-carry bill passed by the Ohio Legislature signed into law, showed up yesterday with pistols at their sides for a Vermilion open carry shopping day, which was organized by Ohioans For Concealed Carry.
Perez said an officer spoke with the men, then took their guns and charged them with possession of a firearm in a public place. Virginia law 18.2-287.4 expressly prohibits "carrying loaded firearms in public areas. But the second paragraph of the law defines firearms only as any semiautomatic weapon that holds more than 20 rounds or a shotgun that holds more than seven rounds – assault rifles, mostly, Van Cleave said. Regular six-shooters or pistols with nine- or 10-shot magazines are not "firearms" under this Virginia law.
Municipal Judge Paul Murphy said he had reviewed several state statutes and court cases related to the right to keep and bear arms. "There being no law whatsoever dealing with the issue of an unconcealed weapon or the so-called open carry is why we're here today," Murphy said. In the end, he determined Krause's actions did not rise to disorderly conduct and found him not guilty.
He said many departments are asking questions about how to deal with people openly carrying firearms. He said it may end up being a community-by-community, case-by-case issue fraught with the potential for danger. "Now, with open carry, which is legal, there may be no training. I could hand you my handgun, you could walk down the street carrying it with no training whatsoever. To me, there is a lot more danger now with people thinking, 'I have the right to carry it so I'm going to carry it, and not have the training,'" Banaszynski said. Guns are still prohibited in schools and any private property owner, including businesses, can ban firearms from their property.[permanent dead link]
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