All states allow concealed carry permitting; however, each state classifies its laws with either “shall issue” or “may issue” restrictions. With the exception of American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands with “no issue” restrictions, U.S. territories also issue concealed carry permits.
As of 2015, 40 states are “shall issue” states, meaning that if a person meets the state’s requirements for a concealed permit, such as age and residency, the issuing agency provides the license. Illinois, the last state to allow concealed carry permits, enacted a “shall issue” law in 2013. Alaska, Arizona and Kansas are among several states that changed their “shall issue” laws to unrestricted. In other words, if a resident can legally own a firearm, he can legally carry it concealed in public. Vermont has never required special permitting for carrying a concealed weapon.
Ten states practice “may issue” concealed carry permitting, which gives the licensing agency power to issue at its discretion. Once a resident meets state requirements for a concealed carry permit, he must provide a reason for wanting the license. The local licensing authority, such as the county sheriff, then decides whether to issue the permit. Urban areas in “may issue” states are more often “no issue” in practice. For example, it is extremely difficult for a resident of San Francisco to obtain a concealed carry permit despite meeting state requirements.