Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States


Total prohibition                                                                                         Total freedom

0 —— 10 —— 20 —— 30 —— 40 —— 50 —— 60 —— 70 —— 80 —— 90 —— 100


Traveler’s checklist:

  • Standard firearms ownership: unrestricted, no permit or license required
  • Semi-auto / high capacity magazines: no restrictions on possession or sale
  • Machine gun ownership: no state restrictions, compliance with federal law only
  • Firearm law uniformity: preemption law, firearm laws uniform throughout state
  • Right of Self-Defense: NRA-model castle doctrine, stand your ground in public areas
  • Open carry: unrestricted in most public areas and generally accepted
  • Concealed carry: licenses granted to residents on a “shall issue” basis; automatic  recognition for all carry permits from other states
  • Vehicle carry by non-permittees:  loaded firearms may be carried in plain view or stowed in any factory-installed vehicle compartment
  • State Parks: concealed handgun carry by recognized licensees permitted
  • Restaurants serving alcohol: permittees may carry while eating in dining areas – see p.3
  • Duty to notify LEO of permit status: upon demand of police officer
  • Vehicle gun possession at colleges: lawful for any gun owner

            Kentucky’s rolling hills and tree-covered mountains provide the perfect
setting for a movie about the early pioneers of the Ohio valley.  Firearms carry in
those days was essential for survival.  And Kentucky still maintains a healthy respect
for this heritage in its firearm laws.

 Recognized permittees: Kentucky requires a license to carry a firearm,
or any other deadly weapon, concealed on or about one’s person.  The State Police
issue such permits through the local sheriff of the applicant’s home county for a five
year term.  Kentucky does not grant permits to nonresidents but will recognize any
permit issued by another state.  A recognized permittee may carry a concealed, loaded
firearm in most public areas.  Prohibited places include childcare centers, bars, legislative meetings, and courthouses.  Colleges, hospitals, local governments and private businesses may also ban carry on their premises by posting visible signs.  But violating such prohibitions involve no criminal penalties.

Persons without recognized permits:  A traveler without a permit may carry a loaded firearm in his vehicle if the weapon is in plain view.  A loaded handgun can be in a visible belt holster or on the dashboard or passenger seat of one’s car.  Loaded long guns may be secured in gun racks or commercial gun cases anywhere in the vehicle except concealed about the person.

Kentucky also allows weapons to be hidden from view in any factory-installed vehicle
compartment.  Console boxes, seat pockets, glove compartments or trunks are among the
acceptable areas for unlicensed concealment.

Any landowner, sole proprietor or lessee may carry concealed without a permit on property they own or rent.  Also, anyone with the permission of the property owner may carry.

A traveler may openly carry a loaded handgun while on foot in most public areas.
Such carry is best limited to visible belt holsters secured on one’s hip.  Kentucky’s strong
preemption law now provides stiff penalties for any locality that attempts to regulate this activity.

All Persons: A property owner is prohibited from preventing employees, customers
or other invitees from carrying firearms in their vehicles while the vehicles are parked on
that owner’s property.  Civil penalties exist for property owners that act contrary to this
mandate.  Also, game wardens are now prohibited from harassing any sportsmen who carry
firearms for self-defense while hunting or fishing.