What is Constitutional Carry and What States Honor It?

Posted by Jack Collins on Jan 02, 2024

If you keep up with gun laws in the US, chances are you’ve heard of Constitutional Carry sometime over the last few years. The topic has become a hot-button issue in many states where it’s becoming the norm, like Texas and Florida. But what exactly does the term “Constitutional Carry” mean, and how does it apply to the average American gun owner? We’ll break the concept down below.

Map of US states with Constitutional Carry laws. States in green allow Constitutional Carry, while those in yellow require some kind of license to carry a concealed weapon. Map from USConcealedCarry.com.

What is Constitutional Carry?

Concealed Carry may sound like a big piece of legalese, but the concept is actually fairly simple. If you actually look at the US Constitution, you’ll notice that it doesn’t place any limits on firearms ownership.

Constitutional Carry is a concept that returns gun ownership to the way the Founding Fathers intended by allowing citizens of a state to carry a concealed weapon without any permits or licenses. In other words, unless you’re a prohibited person (like a felon or someone who’s committed domestic violence), you can legally carry a concealed gun.

For about a century, no states passed any concealed carry laws. But by the beginning of the 1900s, all states other than Vermont had some kind of law regulating the carry of concealed weapons.

Legal Background

That trend began to change in the 2000s, though. In 2008, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case DC v Heller ruled that the Second Amendment was an individual right. In other words, when the law was written, it wasn’t just intended to protect militias, and it allowed for the private ownership of firearms, too.

The 2010 SCOTUS case McDonald v Chicago took the Heller ruling one step further. It combined the 2nd and 14th Amendments to protect gun ownership from state overreach (instead of just federal overreach).

These two court cases set the stage for states to begin enacting their own Constitutional Carry laws. Wyoming and Arizona kicked things off in 2010 when they both passed state-level Constitutional Carry laws.

That got the ball rolling and today (in January of 2024), 27 states allow Constitutional Carry. They include:

It’s important to note that Constitutional Carry only applies to states that allow a citizen to both own a weapon without a permit and carry it without a permit. If a state requires you to get a permit just to own a gun, but then allows you to carry it concealed once you have that permit, it does not qualify as Constitutional Carry.

Final Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Constitutional Carry. I personally believe that an armed society is a polite society, and if there’s the chance that every citizen is packing heat, criminals will think twice before choosing a victim.

Hopefully, we’ll see more states pass Constitutional Carry laws in the future. North Carolina was working on a bill that would have enacted state-wide Constitutional Carry in 2023, but legislators dropped the bill before they even had a chance to vote on it.

The Constitutional Carry movement has kept moving forward, though. Currently, South Carolina is considering a Constitutional Carry bill, and the state’s legislature is in the process of getting the wording right. Keep an eye out for South Carolina joining the growing club of Constitutional Carry states over the next year.