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Free Guide: Can I Open Carry With a Concealed Carry Permit?

In the past few years, few things have caused as much controversy and confusion in America as gun laws. And while this is a broad subject, the type of licenses required to carry a gun is one of the trickiest parts of the discussion because gun laws are different in each state.

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If you’re looking to find out if you can open carry with a concealed carry permit, you’re in the right place.

Generally, whether you can open carry with a concealed carry permit depends on your location because state gun laws vary greatly. In states like North Dakota, you can open carry with a concealed carry permit. In others like Idaho, open carry is allowed without either type of permit.

In the rest of this post, we’ll review the specific gun laws in each state to help you find out whether your state allows open carry with a concealed carry permit or with no carry permit at all. But first, let’s define the most critical terms for understanding open and concealed carry laws. 

Key Definitions for Understanding Open Carry Law

Before we get to the legal stuff, let’s review some important terminology you may come across in today’s discussion.

Open Carry

First up is the main subject of our discussion today. Put simply, open carry refers to the act of carrying a firearm in public in a way that puts the weapon in plain sight of the casual observer. Thus, an open carry permit is a type of gun license that allows you to carry a firearm in this manner. 

Concealed Carry

Concealed carry is the opposite of open carry and means carrying a firearm in a way that makes it hard for the casual observer to spot the weapon.

In other words, it’s simply carrying a gun in a hidden manner by either keeping it in close proximity or on your person. And as you might have guessed, a concealed carry permit is a type of permit that allows you to carry a weapon in this manner. 

Plain Sight

You’d think that “plain sight” is pretty self-explanatory, but its legal definition varies by state. In some states, carrying a gun in public with some parts visible to the casual observer qualifies as carrying it in plain sight.

In others, the weapon must be fully visible to be considered as one carried in plain sight.

A Loaded Firearm

This is another seemingly straightforward term that’s often complicated by variations in law from state to state. Depending on the jurisdiction, a firearm may be legally treated as loaded if it ticks one of the following boxes:

  • The weapon has a live round of ammunition in its firing chamber.
  • The firearm has a magazine with ammo inserted. In this criterion, it doesn’t matter whether there’s a round of ammunition in the firing chamber.
  • An individual has in their possession (or in some cases, readily accessible) both the weapon and its ammunition regardless of whether there’s a round of ammunition in the firearm’s firing chamber or a magazine with ammo has been inserted into the firearm. Out of the three, this is the most common definition of a loaded firearm.

Preemption

Generally, preemption refers to instances where a higher level of government (such as the federal government in the US) removes or limits the regulatory power of a lower level of government (like state jurisdiction).

In the context of our discussion, preemption often happens when state governments enact laws that limit or prevent local governments from regulating the carrying or possession of guns.

Prohibited Persons

This simply means individuals who are not legally allowed to carry or possess a firearm. Popular examples include people with documented drug problems, felons, individuals with mental problems, and those who’ve been released from the US armed forces through dishonorable discharge.

What Federal Law Says About Open Carry 

Generally, the federal government doesn’t prohibit open carry. However, certain rules may apply to open carry of a firearm in a government-owned-or-operated property.

Since the federal government doesn’t have a firm grip on open carry policy, it’s up to the individual states to regulate gun ownership and carriage.

As such, whether you can open carry with a concealed carry permit or even without any license will depend on the gun laws in your state. 

Let’s take a look at what the gun laws in the various states have to say about this in the next section.

State Gun Laws and Implications for Open Carry With a Concealed Carry Permit

As you might have gathered, state gun laws vary greatly nationwide, and they’re usually independent of Federal gun laws. In other words, each state takes a different approach to things like self-defense laws, permits, and carry laws.

In some states, gun laws are less restrictive of open carry than federal legislation. Others don’t even require citizens to obtain a permit to open carry. In these states, you may open carry with a concealed carry permit or with no permit altogether.

However, that doesn’t mean residents of such states are above federal gun regulations when it comes to open carry permits just because the law in their state is less restrictive.

More often than not, whether federal gun laws apply in your state will depend on your state’s willingness to enact such legislation. That’s because, in most cases, the federal government leaves it up to state and other local governments to decide whether federal gun laws will be binding within their jurisdictions.

This has reflected in several court rulings, with the Printz v United States case being the most popular example.

Now that you know the critical role states play in gun regulations and deciding where federal gun laws apply, let’s take a look at the various categories of law in the US.

These categories will be critical to understanding what we mean later on when identifying states where you can open carry without a permit, so pay close attention.

When it comes to open carry laws, there are five types of states.

Permissive Open Carry States

These are states that have enacted full preemption of all gun laws, except in some specific cases. In such states, open carry is lawful (both in a motor vehicle and on foot) and all non-prohibited citizens can open carry without a license or permit for the same.  

Permissive Open Carry, but With Local Restrictions States

In such a state, you can open carry without a license or permit. However, there may be additional restrictions for those without a permit. These restrictions may depend on location (i.e., there are places where you can’t open carry), related to modes of carrying or pegged to local gun laws.

In some states with this kind of legislature, local restrictions don’t apply to individuals with a license.

Licensed Open Carry States

This refers to states that have enacted full preemption of all gun laws, albeit with a few specific exceptions. In such a state, you need a permit to openly carry a handgun on foot and in a vehicle, and that right may be revoked if you fall under the category of prohibited persons. 

In reality, however, some licensed open carry states have what’s known as May-Issue licensing legislation. These may be classified as non-permissive open carry states because their issuing organizations seldom or never issue permits to ordinary non prohibited citizens.

Anomalous Open Carry States

In these jurisdictions, openly carrying a firearm is generally unlawful, except in unincorporated parts of the state where the population densities aren’t up to the legally-defined thresholds, and local governments have passed laws that legalize licensed open carry within their jurisdictions. 

It’s not uncommon for the laws governing open carry to vary greatly from one local jurisdiction to another in such states. California is perhaps the only state with anomalous open carry legislation.

Non-Permissive Open Carry States

Here, openly carrying a handgun is prohibited. There may be circumstances when/where open carry is allowed, but these are usually so limited that it’s virtually illegal to open carry.

Typical examples of such situations include when hunting, on your commute to/from a hunting spot, for legally sanctioned self-defense, or on your property. 

Note that a state can have may-issue licensing regulations but still qualify as non-permissive if the permit-issuing authorities are so restrictive that it’s next to impossible for a non prohibited citizen to get a permit for open carry.

Having defined the types of open carry laws in the various states, let’s find out where you might be able to open carry with a concealed carry permit or even with no permit at all. 

Disclaimer: Laws are always subject to change. Be sure to verify the specific legal requirements in your jurisdiction prior to carrying a firearm.

Open Carry Laws in Each State

To make comparison easier, here’s a table of the type of open carry laws in each state: 

Jurisdiction (Click on the name for details on the specific gun laws in each jurisdiction)PermissivePermissive with local restrictionsLicensedAnomalousNon-permissiveNotes
Alabama✔️You can lawfully open carry without a permit. However, you’ll need a permit if you’re carrying in a motor vehicle. Open carry restrictions by local jurisdictions are preempted.
Alaska✔️You can lawfully open carry without any permit.
American Samoa✔️Open carry is only allowed if you have a valid license to possess (usually mandatory for anyone looking to buy and own firearms). Such licenses, however, are only issued for rimfire rifles and shotguns because handguns have been effectively banned since 1991. Permits that were issued for handguns before 1991 may stand provided they’re still valid.
Arizona✔️State law allows open carry without a permit. However, tribal laws aren’t preempted by state law on Native American reservations, other than when you’re traveling through such a reservation on a state-owned highway. In some tribes, open carry is entirely prohibited. In others, it’s allowed provided you have a tribal open carry permit.
Arkansas✔️Up until 2013, it was illegal to openly carry a handgun in Arkansas even with a concealed carry permit. Since then, the laws governing open carry remained somewhat unclear, until a 2015 Attorney General opinion surfaced, stating that it was legal to openly carry a firearm. But even with this opinion, questions still hovered over the legality of open carry until Governor Asa Hutchinson clarified that it was indeed lawful in 2017 through an order to the Arkansas State Police.
California✔️Open carry is allowed in rural counties where local ordinances have legalized open carry. Some counties may issue an open carry permit.Additionally, you may lawfully open carry if you reasonably believe that your security, or that your property is under immediate threat, and that you must openly carry a firearm to protect yourself or your property. However, when openly carrying a firearm based on this rationale, you may be arrested and questioned by the police and other law enforcers in most urban areas.
Colorado✔️Permitless open carry is allowed statewide, except the county and city of Denver, where open carry is illegal.
Connecticut✔️You need a Connecticut State Pistol Permit to openly carry a handgun. And while licenses are provided on a  May-issue basis, the reality is more of a shall-issue situation.You can openly carry a long gun without a permit, except in localities where that’s restricted or prohibited. But based on court rulings, local restrictions may not apply to individuals who have a State Pistol Permit.
Delaware✔️You don’t need a permit to open carry, and all local restrictions are preempted.
District of Columbia✔️Although open carry was legal between July 27, 2015, and July 29, 2015, its legal status was revoked on the later date because of a court ruling. Thus, you can’t lawfully open carry any firearm in the District of Columbia.
Florida✔️It’s illegal to openly carry any firearm.
Georgia✔️You need a permit to open carry a handgun, and such permits are provided on a shall-issue basis.However, you don’t need any permit to openly carry a long gun.
Guam✔️You can openly carry a firearm provided you have a FOID Card
Hawaii✔️In practiceIt’s legal to openly carry a handgun, but a permit is required. Permits are provided on a may-issue basis, but issuing is No-issue in practice. It’s illegal to openly carry a long gun.Also, permits only remain valid within the county that issued them, and local restrictions are fully preempted.
Idaho✔️No permit required to open carry, and local restrictions are fully preempted.
Illinois✔️Theoretically, open carry is lawful in unincorporated remote areas, where local ordinance permits. However, open carry is not allowed per Attorney General opinion.
Indiana✔️You can carry a long gun in plain sight without a permit. However, you’ll need a permit to lawfully carry a handgun in the same manner. Open carry permits for handguns are provided on a shall-issue basis, and local restrictions on the same are preempted.
Iowa✔️You can openly carry any firearm without a permit, but that only applies in areas outside city limits. To carry any firearm within city limits, you’ll need a permit, and it’ll be granted on a shall-issue basis.
Kansas✔️You can lawfully carry any firearm in plain sight without a permit, and local restrictions on the same are preempted.
Kentucky✔️Permitless open carry is legal, and local restrictions are preempted.
Louisiana✔️It’s legal to openly carry without a permit, and local restrictions are preempted.
Maine✔️Same as Louisiana and Kentucky.
Maryland✔️In practiceIt’s lawful to openly carry a long gun without a permit, and local restrictions on the same are preempted.
However, you need a permit to carry a handgun in plain sight. While such permits are granted on a may-issue basis, it’s no-issue in practice.
Massachusetts✔️Open carry is legal, but only if you have a Massachusetts Unrestricted License to Carry. Local authorities grant such licenses on a may-issue basis, and local restrictions are preempted.
Michigan✔️You can lawfully open carry any firearm without a permit, but licensing is mandatory if you’re carrying it in a vehicle. Permits for carrying a gun in a vehicle are granted on a shall-issue basis, and local restrictions are preempted.
Minnesota✔️A permit is required to carry any firearm in plain sight. Licensing is on a shall-issue basis, with local restrictions fully preempted.
Mississippi✔️Permitless open carry of both handguns and long guns is allowed, but you may require a concealed carry permit for the former gun type. Concealed carry permits are granted on a shall-issue basis, and the state has preempted all local restrictions. 
Missouri✔️Since October 11, 2014, permitless open carry has been legal in Missouri. But in some county and city jurisdictions, open carry is restricted, and you need to either:obtain a carry permit to exempt you from local open carry restrictions.or,switch to concealed carry, which remains lawful even without a permit, with local restrictions on the same preempted.

Montana✔️Permitless open carry of both handguns and long firearms is lawful, and local restrictions are preempted.
Nebraska✔️Open carry of both handguns and long guns is lawful even without a permit. However, when carrying any of these firearms in a vehicle, the weapon must be in plain sight.And while there’s some preemption of local restrictions, some jurisdictions have restrictive gun laws towards open carry. Omaha, for instance, restricts carrying a loaded handgun in plain sight. However, local restrictions may not apply to those with an Omaha open carry permit or a concealed carry license. Lastly, there are zero local restrictions on carrying a long gun in plain sight. 
Nevada✔️It’s illegal to carry a loaded long gun in a vehicle.However, permitless open carry of both long guns and handguns is allowed, and local restrictions preempted.
New Hampshire✔️No permit is required for open carry, and local restrictions are preempted. However, carrying a loaded long gun in a vehicle is prohibited.
New Jersey✔️In practiceYou need a state-issued Permit to Carry a Handgun. Permits are granted on a may-issue basis, but in practice, it’s no-issue. To qualify for a permit, you must demonstrate a reasonable need to carry a firearm.With long guns, open carry is only lawful if you possess a state-issued Firearm Purchaser Identification Card. But even then, you can expect potential run-ins with law enforcement in the form of being detained and questioned, except when hunting. 
New Mexico✔️Generally, permitless open carry of both rifles and handguns is legal regardless of whether they’re loaded. Additionally, a firearm may be carried in a vehicle openly or concealed without a license, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s loaded or not.However, the state doesn’t preempt tribal restrictions on Native American reservations, except when traveling through such a reservation on a highway owned by the state. In some tribes, open carry is prohibited. In others, it’s allowed as long as you have a valid tribal open carry permit.
New York✔️New York state law isn’t exactly clear on open carry. Generally, the open carry of both handguns and rifles is illegal.While there are no specific laws that prohibit open carry in the state, permits to carry a firearm are issued as concealed carry licenses based on penal law 400. Thus, anyone looking to carry a handgun must always carry concealed, even if they have a permit. Open carry is only allowed when hunting, and perhaps on your property. When it comes to long guns, the law is vague, too. While there are no laws that explicitly prohibit carrying an unloaded long gun, this is generally avoided.However, there are laws that specifically ban transporting an uncased rifle in a vehicle, unless the firearm is tucked into the trunk or a compartment that’s not readily accessible by the driver or any of his/her passengers.
North Carolina✔️You don’t need any permit to openly carry a handgun or a rifle, and local restrictions are preempted.
North Dakota✔️No license is required for the open carry of rifles. However, you need a concealed weapons permit to carry a loaded handgun in the same manner. Since local restrictions are preempted, North Dakota is one of the states where you can open carry with a concealed carry permit.If you don’t have a concealed carry permit, you’re allowed to carry an unloaded handgun strictly during the daytime. Specifically, you can only do that between an hour to sunrise and an hour past sunset, and the unloaded gun must be carried in plain sight. 
Northern Mariana Islands✔️ de facto✔️ De JureNot long ago, owning and openly carrying a handgun were both prohibited. However, this ban was declared unconstitutional, and individuals who have lawfully acquired handguns may carry them (even loaded ones) in plain sight without an open carry permit provided they’re not breaking other laws such as gun-free zones.
Ohio✔️Permitless open carry is allowed as long as the gun isn’t loaded and is actually carried in plain sight. The state preempts local restrictions on this. However, you need a permit to carry any loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Oklahoma✔️( as of November 1, 2019)Carrying a firearm in plain sight without an open carry permit was legalized on November 1, 2019. Earlier, only unloaded handguns were allowed to be carried openly in a vehicle without a permit. 
Oregon✔️No permit required for open carry. However, open carry of loaded firearms is restricted in one county and several cities in the state. In these jurisdictions, you can only carry a loaded gun in plain sight if you have a concealed carry permit.Statewide, open carry of unloaded firearms isn’t subject to local restrictions. Additionally, holders of an Oregon Concealed Handgun License are exempted from all local restrictions.
Pennsylvania✔️Generally, you don’t need a permit for open carry, except when carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle, or carrying in Philadelphia.Besides Philadelphia, all other local governments are preempted from enacting restrictions on gun laws.
Puerto Rico✔️Technically, permitless open carry was legal between June 20, 2015 and November 16, 2016, thanks to a favorable court ruling to the lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s restrictive gun legislation. On the letter date, the government appealed this ruling, and the Appeals Court overruled it, effectively restoring the ban on permitless open carry.
Rhode Island✔️You need a license from the Attorney General to carry a handgun in plain sight. Open carry is prohibited for individuals with permits from local authorities.No permit is required for open carry of long guns.
South Carolina✔️Open carry of firearms is only allowed for long guns, and local restrictions on that are preempted.It’s illegal to openly carry a handgun.
South Dakota✔️No permit is required for open carry of both handguns and rifles, and the state has preempted local restrictions on the same.
Tennessee✔️A permit is required for open carry of handguns. Openly carrying a rifle is prohibited unless the weapon is unloaded. Local restrictions are preempted in both cases. 
Texas✔️A permit is required for open carry of handguns, and the gun must be carried in a shoulder holster or a belt. Licenses for this kind of carry are granted on a shall-issue basis.However, you don’t need a permit for open carry of a rifle. Lastly, the state has preempted all local restrictions.
U.S Virgin Islands✔️Open carry is banned.
Utah✔️Permitless open carry of both handguns and long guns is allowed provided the weapon is unchambered. A permit must be obtained to openly carry a chambered handgun.Permit isn’t mandatory when carrying a loaded handgun or an unloaded rifle in a vehicle. Carrying a loaded rifle in a vehicle is prohibited.
Vermont✔️No permit required for open carry of both handguns and rifles.
Virginia✔️Permitless open carry of both handguns and rifles allowed. However, there are local restrictions on permitless open carry of assault weapons, but these do not apply to holders of a concealed carry permit.
Washington✔️Permitless open carry is legal, unless you’re carrying a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle.The state has preempted local restrictions.
West Virginia✔️No permit required for open carry of both handguns and rifles, and local restrictions are preempted.
Wisconsin✔️No license is required for open carry, unless you’re looking to carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle.Local restrictions are preempted.
Wyoming✔️Permitless open carry is allowed and local restrictions preempted.

Summing Up

That rounds up today’s discussion. Hopefully, the above table will help you determine whether you can open carry with a concealed carry permit or without no permit entirely.

Generally, if your state allows permitless open carry or only requires a concealed carry permit to carry a firearm in plain sight, you’re in the clear.

Again, gun laws are always subject to change. Be sure to verify the specific legal requirements in your jurisdiction prior to carrying a firearm.  

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