Concealed Carry Breakdown: Where “May Issue” Is Essentially “No Permit”

Not all states were created equal.  Some states have taken extreme liberties with their interpretations of the Bill of Rights.  If you’re from these states, here are some of the obstacles you face when trying to obtain a concealed carry permit.

Notable Notorious Exceptions for Concealed Carry Permits



California is a tough state for gun laws.  Not only do they heavily regulate based upon county, there’s also a written test required for handgun purchases.  Add insult to injury?  The state’s constitution does not explicitly guarantee the right to bear arms.  This has allowed counties to be so restrictive there have been Circuit Court appeals to recognize Californians’ right to bear arms.  More on that can be read here.


It’s a “Shall Permit” state operating with some pretty strict “May Permit” rules.  And it’s events like Sandy Hook which have put the Connecticut legislature on edge.  In order to get a permit in Connecticut – resident or otherwise – you have to prove you’re a “suitable” person.  What does that mean?  Connecticut isn’t quite sure – it’s not defined in their laws.


If you’re not barred from owning a firearm, you’re probably okay for a concealed permit.  It’s loosely defined as a “May Issue” state but is mostly “Shall Issue” in practice.

District of Columbia

DC’s ban on open and concealed carry was just recently struck down in a July, 2014 court ruling in Wren v. District of Columbia.  What does that mean?!  Well, in Washington, D.C. – our nation’s capitol – all firearms have to be registered with the D.C. police.  The ban on handguns was semi-recently struck down in 2008.  And in 2014, apparently it’s okay for D.C. residents to become concealed carriers – like almost every other part of the country.  It’s still “Shall Permit” and arguably as strict as Maryland, but hey – at least it’s there, right?


Did you register your firearm with the chief of police?  If you did – congratulations!  You’re within the bounds of the law of Hawaii!  How about carrying that weapon concealed?

The Democratic People’s Republic of Hawaii is pleased to introduce to you a series of “Shall Permit” regulations that are “May Issue” in law and “No Issue” by practice.

The chief of police may grant you a permit “in an exceptional case, when an applicant shows reason to fear injury to the applicant’s person or property”.  But, this will never happen as the chief of police for your island really likes being the only guy on the island with a legal permit to carry concealed.  Hopefully violent criminals didn’t get that memo?!  Hang ten, Bill of Rights!


Also a state that doesn’t recognize the right of its citizens to keep and bear arms, Maryland has long been a terse subject of debate at Concealed Nation.  Basically, the process of getting a concealed carry permit is so convoluted that people have given up all hope of obtaining one.  In absence of clear laws governing the concealment (or even carrying) of weapons, it’s left to the criminals to decide instead.


Massachusetts WANTS to be part of the Vermont-New Hampshire-Maine coalition of constitutional carry.  Okay, New Hampshire isn’t constitutional carry, yet.  Give us another two years.  But there’s simply no excuse for Massachusetts.  Live close to Boston where Hollywood makes movies about the ease of robbing a bank?  No, citizens shouldn’t be issued concealed carry permits.  That would make TOO much sense.  IF you live in Massachusetts and want a concealed carry permit, you better live in the desolate, unpopulated regions of the Berkshires.  Outside of that, you’re not going to get issued a concealed carry permit.  More importantly, if you even want a handgun in the first place, you better be willing to register it with a state-wide database.  The ironic notion is that the American Revolution kicked off in a town (Lexington, MA) where it would be feasibly illegal to possess a concealed firearm.

New Jersey

New Jersey…  Are you a felon with a crime-streak that would make Grand Theft Auto blush?  Congratulations!  You probably have no problem concealing a firearm.  For everyone else – you’re on your own.  This is another “May Permit” state that is essentially “No Permit” in practice.  It’s become so bad, New Jersey residents pursue CCW permits out-of-state so they can travel with a legal firearm.  Did we say travel?  Apparently, it’s hard to even do that in the state of New Jersey.  To New Jersey residents – we’re sorry.

New York

There’s New York state and then there’s New York City.  Many outsiders forget the difference.  And for New Yorkers, there is a clear cut “May Issue” process for obtaining a concealed carry permit.  There are magazine restrictions, background checks, and a whole host of factors governing New York’s litmus test for concealed carry.

For residents of the five boroughs of New York City, it’s altogether impossible to obtain a concealed carry permit pending extreme wads of cash in all the right places.  The rationale for this is impossible to understand.  For students of history, NYC is basically consigned to an idea of a city-state emblematic of ancient Greece.  And even then, historically, citizens were probably encouraged to keep and bear arms for defense.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island doesn’t get talked about much because it’s the smallest state in the Union.  It’s one of the few states that is “shall permit” on the books and “never permit” in practice.  It all starts with local authorities.  Good ole’ boy systems set up to dissuade law-abiding citizens from petitioning their local police chiefs and the District Attorney have, unfortunately, been well established.  That is until April of 2015 when citizens decided to start fighting back.  In GADOMSKI v. TAVARES, Rhode Islanders assert that police chiefs need to issue a reason for denial of a concealed carry permit.  It’s far from “shall permit” but for the lower half of New England that is staunchly opposed to an American’s right to keep and bear arms, it’s a giant step forward.

Have you run into problems trying to obtain a concealed carry permit?  Tell us about it in the comments section below!

About James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently an advocate for veterans and constitutional carry in the State of New Hampshire. His daily carry is the Glock 19 Gen 4 in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0.