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Places You Can’t Carry a Firearm (Without Going to Jail)

Concealed carry is a touchy topic with gun owners, and its easy to see why. Here's some info you need to know about places you can't carry a gun.

    Are you 100% sure you know all of the new rules and regulations that your state has passed since you got your concealed carry permit? 

    Like, reaaallllly sure?  Did you hear about the new rules that went in to effect last week/month/year?

    Since I took my training course, Minnesota stopped accepting my Wisconsin and Utah Non-resident permits.  This was a big surprise for me since the whole reason I got the Utah non-resident permit was to go to Minnesota.

    Point is, laws can change at any time, so it’s a good idea to make sure you stay up to date, especially if you travel.  You need to know where you can and cannot carry in your home state, as well as all of the states in between where you coming from and where you’re going.

    The Opposite of a Gun Free Zone

    Today we’re going to talk about some of the common places you can’t carry a concealed weapon and some of the more unique situations where you may not know that you can’t carry.  These will help you make sure that you’re carrying legally no matter which state you’re in.

    Common No Carry Zones

    There are federally mandated areas where you can’t carry that are consistent across the country.  

    gun free school zone sign
    Gun Free Zone Sign on School Property

    For example, schools are a gun free zone pretty much everywhere, although some colleges are changing this on a per campus basis.  As a reminder, this also typically includes childcare facilities.

    Federal buildings are also gun free zones.  For example, if you go to the post office, you are not supposed to have your gun on the property.  This means in your car in the parking lot is not allowed.  Be careful about the drive up mail drop off boxes, too.  The law says “on the property” so it’ll depend on where it’s placed.

    Weapons prohibited sign in a government building
    A Sign in a Government Building

    Other common gun free places are courthouses, state and national parks, and airports (though guns are allowed in checked bags).

    States vary on whether you can carry into a private business that displays a no guns allowed sign.  Make sure you know your state’s laws.

    Where Can I Find My State’s Gun Laws?

    Each state is different.  Because of this, tracking down where to find the specific do’s and don’ts can be a challenge. 


    Our guides to state guns laws and state concealed carry laws are a great place to start.  If you’re looking for something more specific, or want to find out more about your state’s newly introduced laws, the internet has plenty of other sources, too.

    concealed carry laws
    A lot of sources. Just…so many.

    A Google search of something like “concealed carry your state” will bring up some pages that talk about where to get the permit, costs, and a lot of times, a PDF of the laws.  Make sure you are looking at the current laws, though.  Don’t trust them to be accurate unless you can find a recent date on the page.

    The Department of Justice

    In many states, this is the issuing agency for concealed carry permits.  There should be some information on the site pertaining to gun laws and may be able to point you in the right direction, even if they are not the issuing body.

    State Police

    The State police issue your CCW permits in some states, such as Michigan.  Their site has all of the information and links to the rules and regulations for your CCW permit on it.

    County Sheriff

    States, such as New York, use the sheriff as the go-to agency for issuing your carry permit.  While the state laws still apply, there are some counties and municipalities with additional laws.

    Greenleaf, Idaho: This Is Not a Gun Free Zone Sign
    And some that quite proudly don’t.

    Some Unusual State Laws


    Alaska is like the modern day wild West when it comes to guns.  There is so much common land up there that it’s hard to say what people can and can’t do, not to mention lots of potentially dangerous wildlife.

    No permit is necessary if you are over 21 and can legally buy a handgun.  However, Alaska does have a permit you can apply for; which is nice if you travel out of the state


    California is famous (or maybe infamous) for their plentiful gun regulations.

    This law, however, surprised me:

    “California law does not prohibit CCW holders from carrying in a private business establishment, even if they post a sign and/or search people entering.  However, they are within their rights to ask you to leave (temporarily or permanently) if they find out – and you are trespassing if you don’t leave after being asked.”


    Connecticut requires you to have a CCW permit to carry a gun anywhere, even in your own house or on your property.  You also need it to transport a handgun.

    Connecticut also has some interesting exceptions to their gun-free zones at schools:

    “It is unlawful to possess a firearm on public or private elementary or secondary school property.  This prohibition shall not apply to a person with a firearm carrying permit, with permission from school officials, or while traversing school property with an unloaded firearm for the purpose of gaining access to lands open to hunting or for other lawful purposes, provided entry is not prohibited by school officials.”

    Connecticut state flag
    Connecticut state flag


    Illinois is one of the few states that requires you to have a Firearms Owner’s Identification Card (FOID).  You need to show your FOID whenever you purchase a firearm or buy ammo.  If you want to be able to carry concealed, you’ll need a concealed carry permit as well.

    However, your Illinois concealed carry permit may not be valid in certain areas like Cook County, where Chicago is. 

    New Hampshire

    In New Hampshire, you do not need a permit to carry a concealed gun

    New Jersey

    New Jersey is a lot like New York in regards to gun laws and concealed carry with a dash of Illinois sprinkled in for good measure. You have to have an ID card for owning and purchasing a gun, as well as purchasing and possessing ammo.

    They were also one of the states trying to pioneer the use of smart guns.

    New York

    Finding the specific laws for New York is not that easy.  While you can get a permit that covers the state of New York, you still need one specific for the city of New York.  

    State permits are issued by the licensing officer for the city or county.  New York City permits are issued by the city’s police commissioner.


    Utah has one of the most widely accepted non-resident concealed carry licenses in the United States.  It’s also one of the few states that you can carry a gun in a school, though only in certain circumstances.


    Mall of America no guns sign
    Remember, businesses can’t always control whether guns are allowed on their premises.

    When it comes to being a responsible gun owner, you need to do your research.

    It is especially important to know the laws of the states you’re traveling to and through. This is where a lot of complication can arise if you don’t know the specifics of the other state’s laws. 

    And if you’re cleared to carry…do you have the best concealed carry holster?  If not, check out our Best Concealed Holsters guide.

    Have you run into any issues when it comes to concealed carry laws? Are there any weird or unusual laws in your state or local area? Let us know in the comments.

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    20 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      "Guns OK in post office parking lots, federal judge rules"

      posted on CNN web /2013/07/11/us/guns-post-office/index.html

      February 24, 2023 4:43 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      concealed carry for non residents

      "When States pass “Constitutional Carry” laws, they are based on provisions IN THEIR STATES’ CONSTITUTION that refer to the RIGHT to carry IN THAT INDIVIDUAL STATE – NOT on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

      Since those State Constitutions are each written differently, SOME states interpret that RIGHT to apply ONLY to THEIR OWN citizens, while other states – such as West Virginia – extend that right to ANYONE age 21 or older who either legally resides in the US or is a US Citizen AND is not prohibited by either FEDERAL or STATE Law from possessing a firearm (yet there ARE state carry permits they do NOT recognize – an oddity that MAY get corrected in a future legislative session).

      Personally, I’d like to keep the FEDS fingers OUT OF the ‘reciprocity cookie jar’ – one only has to look at the ‘reciprocity mess’ the US Department of Transportation has made of commercial drivers licenses, regulating who can drive with what, where, for how long and introducing expensive layers of useless bureaucracy."

      December 22, 2020 5:44 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      george R babcock

      If a company bans a person from carrying a weapon....do they then accept the financial responsibility if a person is injured by an individual (gang banger for instance) who injures me which keeps me from taking care of my family?

      August 19, 2019 2:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Well, since you’re going to cheap shot the guy on grammar Joe, maybe you ought to capitalize the first word of your first sentence? Just say’n…
      A neighbor taught me a LOT about gun safety. He could read and write and do basic math. He definitely wasn’t brilliant, and made grammar mistakes. But apparently you think he’d be “under qualified” to carry a gun, because of this?

      July 24, 2018 4:13 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      T K

      You should reference CT PA 98-129 re. revisions to eligibility to carry a firearm on school grounds in CT. In PA 98-129 the wording was changed and the qualifier of holding a carry permit was struck from the wording - other qualifiers have also been removed or revised since the writing which you’ve referenced

      May 23, 2018 2:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Cook county has an assault weapons ban but an IL CCL is valid for the entire state. http://www.senategop.state.il.us/Portals/0/14%20Concealed%20Carry%20v4.pdf

      October 8, 2017 3:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have a free app on my iPhone, "Legal Heat," which is pretty handy for both local laws and for traveling CCW across state lines.

      October 2, 2017 9:34 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        not free... requires payment and a renewing subscription

        December 5, 2017 1:12 pm
    • Commenter Avatar


      "Congress approved a new law allowing loaded rearms in national parks starting Feb. 22, 2010. That means people can openly carry legal handguns, ri es, shotguns and other rearms and also may carry concealed guns as allowed by state statute."

      October 1, 2017 5:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      West Virginia just passed laws allowing any resident of the state to carry concealed without a permit.

      October 1, 2017 4:55 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        The North Carolina House recently did the same. However, I imagine it will get veto'd by the governor when it makes it to his desk.

        October 2, 2017 5:05 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Randy Ashman

      This is why we need a national reciprocity law so that all the states have to accept an out of state license. I can drive my 3000-4000 pound vehicle (an instrument that kills way more people every year then guns) to any state. I bet the states raised the same questions of training and licensing requirements when that was first passed too, but they were forced to do it. We should be able to do the same with a CCW.

      October 1, 2017 3:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      George Goeb

      D.C. Is almost as bad

      October 1, 2017 2:26 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      George Goeb

      In Maryland no one gets a permit unless there is "a good reason" basically if you work in security. No one else can get them. If you have a gun in your car the ammo has to be stored as far away from the firearm as possible, it cant be within reach. You have to be going to the range or from the range, you will be arrested. No one ever talks about it but Maryland by far has the most unconstitutional laws in the country

      October 1, 2017 2:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Carry everywhere, all the time.

      September 29, 2017 3:47 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Also, National Parks are under the local state laws from what I understand: "In accordance with 16 USC 1a-7b, in any national park, a person may possess a firearm if such possession is in compliance with the laws of the State in which the national park area is located" (cited: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/csp/colorado-gun-laws)

      September 28, 2017 8:22 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Thanks Dustin!

        September 28, 2017 9:40 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      My understanding of Colorado Law is that you can have weapon in your car on school grounds/federal property as long as it is concealed and car is locked once you leave the vehicle.

      September 28, 2017 8:21 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Michael O

        The same goes for South Carolina. You can possess a firearm in you car (vehicle) as long as it is concealed, and the vehicle is attended, or locked.

        May 31, 2018 8:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I'm so happy to live in the free state of Indiana. Although it can sometimes be an issue traveling through the not-so-free state of Illinois to the west. While he was still the Governor, Mike Pence signed a law to allow for vehicle carry at schools provided you are either attending a school even(I.E. a football game), or dropping off\picking up someone at the school. Before, it was such a hassle to have to either go home to disarm or park off school grounds.

      September 28, 2017 5:31 am
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