|U.S. firearms legal topics|
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 proudly 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 special-interest 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:
The following chart lists state policies for openly carrying a loaded handgun in public.
|Arkansas||The legal status of open carry is in dispute. Act 746 was intended to clarify the Journey clause, which states that travelers can carry a weapon when leaving their usual areas. Many interpreted this new wording of the law to mean open carry was now accepted as legal. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel stated that his interpretation of Act 746 was that it did not allow open carry. This has yet to be sufficiently clarified. Some local authorities continue to prosecute open carry cases under the pre-existing ban, while officials in other counties will no longer arrest individuals openly carrying without some other cause to do so. However, it is not illegal to openly carry rifles and shotguns.|
|California||Open carry legal in rural counties with local ordinances allowing open carry. Some of these counties issue a permit for open carry.|
|Colorado||Open carry without a license permitted statewide, except in the City and County of Denver (where open carry is prohibited by local ordinances that pre-date Colorado's statewide pre-emption law).|
|Connecticut||Open carry with a valid pistol permit is legal statewide. Connecticut is Shall-Issue, with Limited Discretion for granting pistol permits.
|Delaware||No permit or special license required.
|District of Columbia||Civilian open carry is not allowed in the District of Columbia.|
|Florida||||The constitutionality of the general ban on open carry is currently being challenged in the Florida 4th District Court of Appeals case of Norman v. State
|Georgia||Licenses granted on a Shall-Issue basis.|
|Hawaii||In practice||Licenses rarely issued to ordinary citizens. Licenses valid in the issuing county only.|
|Indiana||Licenses granted on a Shall Issue basis. Preemption law enacted in 2011. Indiana recognizes firearms carry licenses issued by all other states.|
|Kansas||Kansas HB 2578 voided all local carry laws as of July 1st 2014, Making Kansas a Permissive State.|
|Louisiana||Open carry is legal in Louisiana. Attorney General Opinion No. 78-0795 - The AG replies to two questions: "1. Is it legal to carry an exposed handgun?" and "2. Do Parishes and/or Municipalities have the power to regulate the carrying of exposed handguns?" The AG responds, "the carrying of an exposed handgun is not illegal, except as provided in LSA R.S. 14:95.1." And citing City of Shreveport V. Curry and City of Shreveport V. Bukhett, 357 S.2d 1078, (LA. 1978) the AG answers " It is the opinion of this office that the state statutes aforementioned have the purpose of establishing a general scheme to control weapons (handguns) and that a fair reading of those statutes show this would constitute an area in which the state has preempted the legislative control and has implicitly authorized the carrying of unconcealed weapons. Therefore, an ordinance enacted by a Parish and/or Municipality regulating the carrying of exposed handguns would be without effect as being in conflict with State Law.|
|Maine||Open carry on foot without a permit legal statewide. A valid Maine concealed carry permit is required to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle.|
|Maryland||In practice||Licenses are rarely issued to ordinary citizens. However, no permit is required to openly carry a rifle or shotgun.|
|Massachusetts||In practice||Pistol permits are issued by local authorities on a May-Issue basis. Ability to obtain a pistol permit varies between localities. Pistol permits are valid statewide, regardless of where they were issued. In practice, open carry is highly discouraged by authorities, and one may be charged with Disorderly Conduct or Breach of Peace if open carry causes public alarm. Open carry of long guns prohibited.|
|Michigan||||Licenses are granted on a Shall-Issue basis.
|Minnesota||Licenses are granted on a Shall-Issue basis|
|Missouri||||State preemption was passed taking effect in October of 2014 and a concealed carry license is necessary.|
|New Jersey||In practice||Licenses rarely granted to ordinary citizens. Open carry of long guns prohibited.|
|New Mexico||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||Some rural counties issue permits for open carry (valid in the issuing county only). Open carry of long guns prohibited in most places.|
|Ohio||Ohio is an open carry state. Open carry is not permitted in vehicles without a Concealed Handgun License. Local firearm laws were preempted in 2007.|
|Oklahoma||Residents of permitless carry states may openly carry without a license with a valid ID from their home state.|
|Oregon||Some more populous locations (Portland, Salem, etc.) have ordinances restricting open carry. Persons with concealed carry licenses are exempt from local open carry restrictions.|
|Pennsylvania||License to carry needed to open carry in a motor vehicle or in a city of the first class (pop over 1,000,000—currently only Philadelphia falls into this category) |
|Rhode Island||Open carry of handguns permitted with permit issued by the Attorney General's Office. No permit required to carry long guns.|
|Texas||**Pending**||Open carry of handguns not yet legal in Texas. Two separate bills to permit licensed open carry effective Jan 1, 2016 (Senate Bill 17 and House Bill 910) have been approved their respective chambers and each are awaiting consideration in the opposite chamber or a House-Senate Conference Committee. Governor Abbott has indicated he will sign any open carry bill that reaches his desk. Texas law does not prohibit the open carry of long guns in public and provides for preemption of local government firearms law.|
|Utah||A license is required to openly carry a loaded firearm (e.g., a live round of ammunition in the firing chamber of the weapon). No license necessary when the weapon is unloaded and exposed.|
|Washington||Open Carry is legal without a license, but to carry a handgun loaded in a vehicle one needs a concealed pistol license (CPL).Carry of loaded rifles and shotguns in vehicles is also restricted, per RCW 77.15.460
|Wisconsin||Section 32 of 2011 Wisconsin Act 35 (codified as Wis. Stat. 167.31(2)(b), removed the vehicle carry restriction for handguns. However, what constitutes open carry is defined by case law. If one does not possess a Wisconsin concealed weapons license (or a qualifying out of state license), ensuring that the weapon is visible from the outside is essential.|
Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. 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 four 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 carrying 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".
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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.
State laws on open carry vary widely. Six states, the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia fully prohibit the open carry of handguns. On the other side, twelve states permit open carry of a handgun without requiring the citizen to apply for any permit or license. Thirteen states require some form of permit (often the same permit as allows a person to carry concealed), and the remaining seventeen 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."
2012 May 15: Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1733, 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 in November, 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 limits where a person may legally carry a firearm by generally prohibiting carry within one-thousand (1000) feet 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 this restriction depending on the laws of the State, and most issuing States qualify for this exception. However, according to BATFE the exception in Federal law is only applicable to permit holders while in the State that physically issued their permit, and does not exempt people with out-of-state permits, even when their permit is recognized through 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."
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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.
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