5 Most Difficult States to Obtain a Concealed Carry Permit

In the United States of America, our ability to own and operate firearms is an incredible freedom that is afforded to us by the Second Amendment. Many Americans throughout the country exercise their Second Amendment rights and protect themselves by concealed carrying their firearms. Unfortunately, obtaining a concealed carry weapons permit in some states is far more difficult than in others. 

Read on to find out which states are the most difficult to obtain a carry permit in. 

CaliforniaCalifornia Flag

Perhaps the most notorious state in the Union when it comes to restricting citizen's gun rights, California has a storied history of enacting and enforcing restrictive gun laws—and their concealed carry policies are no exception. In the state of California, individuals are only granted a concealed carry weapons permit if they:

  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Have cause to justify the issuing of the permit
  • Are of good moral character
  • Are a resident of the county or be employed within the county
  • Have completed an approved firearms training class
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or certain types of misdemeanors
  • Are not addicted to drugs
  • Have not been diagnosed as mentally ill

For more information on California's gun laws, visit the California page on the Gun to Carry website. 


connecticut flag

While not nearly as restrictive as other states listed here, Connecticut remains as one of the most difficult states in the country to acquire a concealed carry permit in. This is thanks, in part, to the state's "May Issue" status, its age restrictions and safety course requirements. Those wishing to gain a carry permit in the state of Connecticut must:

  • Be at least twenty one years of age
  • Be a legal resident of the United States
  • Have a residence or business in the jurisdiction in which they are applying
  • Intend to use the handgun for only lawful purposes
  • Be a "suitable person" to receive a permit
  • Have successfully completed a handgun safety course
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or a violation of:
    • Criminal possession of a narcotic substance
    • Criminally negligent homicide
    • Assault in the third degree
    • Reckless endangerment in the first degree
    • Unlawful restraint in the second degree
    • Riot in the first degree
    • Stalking in the second degree
  • Have not been convicted as a delinquent for the commission of a serious juvenile offense
  • Have not been discharged from custody within the preceding twenty years after having been found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect
  • Not be subject to a restraining or protective order issued by a court in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person
  • Not be subject to a firearms seizure order issued for posing a risk of personal injury to self or others after a hearing
  • Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm for having been adjudicated as a mentally incompetent under federal law
For more information on Connecticut gun laws, visit the Connecticut page on the Gun to Carry website. 


Delaware Flag

While Delaware is a "May Issue" state, it is generally pretty willing to issue shooters carry permits—assuming they are able to come up with the five references needed to prove that an applicant is of "good moral character." This unique restriction proves to be a particularly troublesome obstacle for those who are new to the state and may not have many connections who are willing to serve as a reference. In order to obtain a carry permit in Delaware, residents must: 

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Complete a firearms training course
  • Have five references from the county you reside in. The references shall clearly state that the applicant is a person of full age, sobriety and good moral character, that the applicant bears a good reputation for peace and good order in the community in which the applicant resides, and that the carrying of a concealed deadly weapon by the applicant is necessary for the protection of the applicant or the applicant’s property, or both.
  • Have never been convicted in Delaware or elsewhere of a felony or a crime of violence
  • Have never been, as a juvenile, adjudicated as delinquent for conduct which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony—If under 25 years old
  • Have never been convicted for the unlawful use, possession, or sale of a narcotic, dangerous drug, or central nervous system depressant or stimulant
  • You are not subject to a Protection From Abuse Order issued by a court
  • Have never been committed for a mental disorder to any hospital, mental institution, or sanitarium

For more information on Delaware gun laws, visit the Delaware page on the Gun to Carry website. 


Illinois Flag

Illinois, home of the Windy City and its well-known gun restrictions differs from most of the states on this list in the fact that it is a "Shall Issue" state. However, what separates Illinois from other "Shall Issue" states is that law enforcement officials have the right to object to a CCW license being issued if they think the applicant is a danger to public safety or themselves. Illinois also distinguishes itself by requiring that applicants have a FOID card before they complete their application—which is needed to purchase firearms in the state. In order for Illinois residents to obtain a carry permit, they must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification card (FOID)
  • Have not been convicted or found guilty of a misdemeanor involving the threat of physical force or violence to any person within the past 5 years
  • Not have 2 or more violations related to driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drugs, intoxicating compounds within the past 5 years
  • Not be subject to a pending arrest warrant, prosecution or proceeding for an offense or action that could lead to disqualification to own or possess a firearm
  • Have not been in a residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism, alcohol detoxification, or drug treatment within the past 5 years
For more information on Illinois gun laws, visit the Illinois page on the Gun to Carry website. 

New York

New York Flag

New York, much like Illinois, has gained a reputation for its biggest city and its harsh gun laws. New York is a "May Issue" state, making it similarly restrictive to other states listed here. New York is also similar to Delaware in that the state requires applicants to supply four personal references that they are not related to along with their application. Concealed carry permit holders in New York must:


  • Be 21 years of age or older, provided, however, that where such applicant has been honorably discharged from the United States army, navy, marine corps, air force or coast guard, or the national guard of the state of New York, no such age restriction shall apply
  • Reside or maintain a principal place of business within the county application is filed in
  • Be of good moral character
  • Not be subject to a protective court order
  • Show proper cause exists for the issuance of a carry license, including, for example, target shooting, hunting, or self-defense
  • Have no prior conviction for a felony or other serious offense under NYS Penal Law
  • Not have a good cause for the denial of the license
  • Not be residing in the United States illegally or unlawfully
  • Not have been admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa
  • Have not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Have not had a guardian appointed for him or her pursuant to any provision of state law, based on a determination that as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, mental illness, incapacity, condition or disease, he or she lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs
  • Be free from any mental disorders, defects or diseases that would impair his or her ability to safely possess or use a firearm
  • Not have been involuntarily committed to a facility under the jurisdiction of the department of mental hygiene
  • Have not had a license revoked or who is not under a suspension or ineligibility order

For more information on New York gun laws, visit the New York page on the Gun to Carry website. 


Bonus: Washington D.C.

DC Flag

While it may not be a state, the District of Columbia warrants inclusion in this list due to its particularly restrictive gun laws. The district's laws make applying for and receiving a permit impossibly difficult. Additionally, they do not have any reciprocity agreements with other states and will not honor any other state's concealed carry license. What's odd is that, assuming you meet the district's requirements and can maneuver through mountains of red tape, the district is "Shall Issue." In order to obtain a carry permit in Washington D.C., shooters must: 

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Meet all of the requirements for a person registering a firearm
  • Possess a registered pistol, or register one at time of CCL application
  • Not currently suffer nor has suffered in the previous five (5) years from any mental illness or condition that creates a substantial risk that he or she is a danger to himself or herself or others provided that if the person no longer suffers such mental illness or condition, and that person has provided satisfactory documentation required under § 2337.3, then the Chief may determine that this requirement has been met
  • Have completed a firearms training course, or combination of courses
  • Have a bona fide residence or place of business
    • Within the District of Columbia
    • Within the United States and a license to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person issued by the lawful authorities of any State or subdivision of the United States
    • Within the United States and meets all registration and licensing requirements
  • Have demonstrated to the Chief good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol
  • Be a suitable person to be so licensed

For more information on Washington D.C. gun laws, visit the Washington D.C. page on the Gun to Carry website. 

The right to carry concealed is one that is all-too-often looked over and abridged. While many states recognize the individual liberties afforded by the Second Amendment, others make the lawful carrying a handgun extraordinarily difficult. 

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