In the U.S., open carry is defined as “openly carrying a firearm in public”. Open carry is different from concealed carry, which when a casual observer can’t see the carrier’s firearms. Open carry has been pushed to forefront in recent years due to a number of major corporations — such as Target, Starbucks and Chipotle — have issued positions on whether they would permit customers to carry firearms within their stores.
There are no federal restrictions on open carry (specific rules may apply to property owned or operated by the feds); it’s up to the states to regulate the practice. As it stands, every state permits concealed carry. However, state laws on open carry vary widely, especially on handguns.
– California, Florida, Illinois, and D.C. prohibit open carry.
– New York and South Carolina prohibit the open carrying of a handgun (but not a long gun!)
– Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey prohibit the open carrying of a long gun, but not a handgun.
In the rest of the States, open carry is generally allowed, but some states require that a carrier purchase a permit or license to do so.
Most states that allow open carry still prohibit open carrying in some specific locations such as schools, state-owned businesses, places where alcohol is served, and on public transportation, among many other locations. These rules are consistent with federal laws regarding handguns in certain places.
States that Prohibit Open Carrying of Handguns
- District of Columbia
- New York
- South Carolina
States that Require a Permit or License to Openly Carry Handguns
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
Most Permissive States
- North Dakota
For more information on open carry laws, suprisingly Wikipedia’s page on open carry is detailed and well-presented. Another blog post will discuss carrying weapons across state lines. In other words, if you live in Illinois and you decide to pack your handgun to go on a road trip to Yosemite, you could find yourself in serious trouble if caught with a handgun in your vehicle.