Gun violence is on the rise in the United States, where the rate of gun homicides is much higher than those of peer countries. This year is “on track to be the deadliest year of gun violence in more than two decades,” as noted by a legal brief filed by the police chiefs of 12 U.S. cities.
All states have laws prohibiting people from carrying guns in public places, such as courthouses, banks, bars, churches, hospitals or schools, or at events, such as sports games or demonstrations. These restrictions vary by state.
Sixteen states do not require permits for people carrying handguns in permissible public places.
In 34 states, those who wish to carry a handgun in permissible public places must get a permit from local or state officials, such as a police chief, sheriff or judge.
Twenty-six of those states have “shall issue” laws, which grant permits automatically to qualified applicants over age 21 (or 18 in some states when on active military duty). A typical example would be Nevada, which requires proof of firearms training and bans people convicted of felonies or any crime involving domestic violence or stalking, as well as medical-marijuana cardholders, parolees, fugitives, people declared mentally incompetent and those who were dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.
Eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — have stricter, “may issue” laws. Even when applicants meet the minimum requirements, authorities may choose to deny concealed-carry permits based on the reasons given for needing a gun.
New York requires applicants to demonstrate “proper cause,” which courts have defined as a “special or unique danger” that the general public doesn’t face.