Topic Progress:

Following are the summaries of federal & state laws regarding open carry:


Federal law doesn’t restrict open carry, although there are certain rules that night apply to property operated or owned by federal government. The federal law has implemented a federal gun free school zones act.


This act restricts where gun owners can carry a gun legally by generally forbidding the carry within 1000 ft of any K-12 school property line. This excludes private property.

A permit issued by the state can exempt the gun carrier from this limitation as per the state laws. As per BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), this federal law exception is merely applicable to the permit or license holders when they are physically present in the state that issued their license or permit, it doesn’t exempt individuals with out-of-state license or permits. This holds true even if their license and permits are recognized through the reciprocity agreements of the state.

This law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1995, stating that the Commerce Clause doesn’t grant Congress the power of prohibiting the possession of guns within 1000 ft of any school. However, in 1996, this law was reenacted in a slightly different form.


District of Columbia, Illinois, Florida, and California prohibits the open carry of any firearm. South Carolina and New York prohibits the open carry of hand guns but not the long guns. New Jersey, Minnesota, and Massachusetts prohibit the open carry of long guns but not hand guns. The rest of the states permit the citizens to open carry though some might require the carrier to have a license or a permit.

It is important to note that some laws of open carry have certain exceptions. In certain states that permits open carry, the citizens are still prohibited to open carry in certain places like public transportation, places that serve alcohol, stated owned businesses, schools and some other places.


Open carry state laws vary widely as explained above. Six states forbid open carry completely, twelve states allow open carry of hand guns without any license or permit, thirteen states allow concealed carry with a license or permit, and seventeen states either allow open carry or have some restrictions on it.

In 2011, California passed a law stating that it would be a “misdemeanor to openly carry an exposed and unloaded handgun in public or in a vehicle.” However, this isn’t applicable on open carry of long guns or rifles or individuals in rural areas.

In 2011, Wisconsin openly acknowledged legality of open carry through making amendments in its disorderly conduct statute. The amended subsection 2 states that, “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.”

In 2012, a 1733 Senate Bill – Oklahoma Self Defense Act – was signed in Oklahoma by its governor which permitted the citizens with permits to openly carry their guns if they wanted. This law was implemented in November 2012 and stated that, “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.”


Open carry hasn’t been ruled out as a right in the Second Amendment of American Constitution by any courts. As per the majority opinion in 2008 Heller vs. District of Columbia, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote regarding the Second Amendment elements that, “We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. However, 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.”

The constitutions of forty four states identify and secure the rights of carrying and bearing arms in certain forms, and not one prohibits firearms from being carried openly. In the constitutions of five states, state legislature might regulate the way of bearing and carrying arms, and gun supporters have argued that none of the regulations prohibit openly carrying guns specifically. In nine states, the constitution states that state legislature might prohibit and/ or regulate the concealed carry of firearms. Open carry supporters give an argument that, through exclusion, open carry might not be controlled legislatively in these states. However, this law hasn’t been settled yet. Kentucky’s section 1.7 of the state constitution merely empowers the state to pass laws that prohibit concealed carry.