2009-2010 Developments in State Firearms Laws by State

Posted on October 4, 2010

Updated October 4, 2010.

The information on this page supplements the Law Center’s state law summaries.

Alabama

In 2009, Alabama enacted a law that makes the name, address and signature of an applicant for a concealed weapons license or of a licensee confidential.

Alaska

Alaska recently enacted a law stating that certain firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition that are manufactured in and remain in the state are exempt from federal regulation.

Arizona

Arizona recently adopted a measure that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms in public without a license or permit. Prior Arizona law required concealed weapon holders to apply for a license, pass a background check, and obtain firearms safety training. Only two other states, Vermont and Alaska, allow concealed weapons to be carried without a license.

Another new Arizona law adds to the list of firearms-related activities that are preempted from local regulation and repeals some of the exceptions to local preemption. Arizona also recently enacted a law that declares that firearms and ammunition manufactured in Arizona that “remain in the state” are not subject to federal firearms laws.

In 2009, Arizona enacted a law amending the prohibition against carrying a firearm into an establishment where alcohol is sold. Previously, a person was guilty of this crime only if he or she knew firearms were not permitted in the establishment. A new law removes the knowledge requirement. However, a person will only be found guilty under the new law if the retailer has posted a sign that clearly prohibits firearms on the premises. The law provides affirmative defenses if:

  • The person was not informed of the notice prior to the violation;
  • The sign had fallen down at the time of the violation; or
  • At the time of the violation, the sign had been posted for thirty days or less.

Another 2009 Arizona law prohibits property owners, tenants, employers and businesses from barring transportation or storage of a firearm in a locked, privately owned vehicleso long as the firearm is not visible from the outside of the vehicle.

Arkansas

In 2009, Arkansas enacted a law that prohibits the sale of imitation firearms that do not meet specified color and other design criteria. The law took effect January 1, 2010.

California

For a detailed breakdown of pending 2010 legislation in California, see the Law Center’s Summary of 2010 California Firearms Legislation.

A new California bill requires that mental health designations reported to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) be sent electronically.

A recently enacted California bill requires persons or businesses engaged in the retail sale of handgun ammunition to: 1) maintain records containing certain identifying information about the purchaser and the ammunition being sold; and 2) store handgun ammunition so that it is inaccessible to purchasers without the assistance of the vendor. The law also requires that ammunition sales be completed in face-to-face transactions, prohibits persons subject to gang injunctions from possessing ammunition, and prohibits ammunition sales to any person the seller knows or has cause to believe is prohibited from possessing ammunition.

Another new California law authorizes courts to issue search warrants to seize firearms where, upon finding sufficient probable cause, the weapon is owned by or in the possession of a person detained for a mental health examination or arrested in connection with an incident of domestic violence. Similarly, a recently enacted law authorizes the issuance of a search warrant to seize a firearm possessed by a person subject to a protective order prohibiting firearm possession.

Another recently signed bill requires pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers to report to DOJ each firearm received on the date of receipt. The pawnbroker must retain a copy of the submitted report and make it available for inspection by DOJ or local law enforcement. DOJ may review the reports to determine whether a firearm has been reported lost or stolen.

A bill was signed into law that clarifies that a license to openly carry a loaded handgun — which may be issued in a county with a population of under 200,000 persons — only authorizes carrying in the county that issued the license. Finally, a new law revises the procedures for the revocation of a retired law enforcement officer’s concealed weapon privilege. The law also creates a procedure for immediate temporary revocation of the privilege where the officer’s conduct compromises public safety.

Connecticut

A Connecticut law enacted in 2009 prohibits any person from transferring, selling or giving a machine gun to a person under sixteen years of age. The statute expressly states that there is no exception for the temporary transfer of a machine gun to a person under sixteen for use in target shooting or on a shooting range “or for any other purpose.”

Colorado

A new Colorado law removed the automatic repeal, which would have occurred on July 1, 2010, of a provision that prohibits firearms transfers to any person who has been arrested or charged with certain crimes.

Delaware

Delaware recently adopted a law that increases concealed weapons license application fees and extends the term of validity for new licenses from two to three years and the term of validity for renewal licenses from three to five years.

District of Columbia

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008), the District enacted the Inoperable Pistol Amendment Act of 2008 and the Firearms Registration Amendment Act of 2008. These laws repealed the District’s handgun ban and storage provisions that were struck down by the Court and also added several new firearms provisions. The new laws allow registration of handguns, but only one handgun per month may be registered. Handguns must meet certain minimum safety requirements. In addition, firearms must be re-registered every three years and registration of a characteristics-based class of assault weapons and 50 caliber weapons is prohibited.

Carrying or discharging firearms within the District is prohibited as is possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices. The categories of persons who are disqualified from firearm ownership has been expanded. Under the legislation, any handgun manufactured after January 1, 2011 must be equipped with microstamping technology. All firearm purchases within the District are now subject to a ten-day waiting period (previously a 48-hour period applied only to handgun purchases). Finally, the new legislation repeals the District’s concealed carry licensing law and prohibits the reckless storage of firearm that a minor accesses.

The District also has enacted the Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Amendment Act of 2009. The law creates a gun offender registry requiring persons convicted of certain firearm-related offenses, within or outside the District of Columbia, to register with law enforcement. The law also rewrites standards for possession of firearms, increases penalties for possession of a gun by a felon, and criminalizes the act of being in a motor vehicle knowing a firearm is in the vehicle, unless it is being carried or transported lawfully.

Georgia

Georgia recently amended its law regulating the carrying of concealed weapons. The new law allows carrying firearms in establishments that sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, parks, some areas of airports, sporting events and the parking facilities of government entities, courthouses, jails, prisons, places of worship and bars. In addition, the law allows the carrying of long guns without a permit. Unloaded long guns may be carried concealed; loaded long guns must be carried openly.

Idaho

Idaho recently enacted a law stating that certain firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition that are manufactured in and remain in the state are exempt from federal regulation. Idaho also enacted a new law that requires mental health records to be sent electronically to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

A law enacted in 2009 allows residents of states that are not contiguous to Idaho to purchase long guns in Idaho. Likewise, residents of Idaho may now purchase long guns from states that are not contiguous to Idaho. Another 2009 law makes confidential any information relating to a retired law enforcement officer that is maintained or received pursuant to a concealed weapon permit or application for a permit.

Illinois

In 2009, Illinois enacted a law that requires law enforcement to revoke or deny a Firearm Owner’s Identification card (required for possession of a firearm or ammunition in Illinois) to a person subject to a domestic violence protective order in certain situations.

Illinois also adopted a law in 2009 that provides an exception to the current prohibition against carrying firearms. The exception allows individuals to carry a firearm in a legal dwelling or on land upon which the person is an invitee if given permission to carry a firearm by the owner.

Indiana

A recently adopted Indiana law prohibits any person from adopting or enforcing any rule that prohibits an employee of the person from possessing a firearm locked in the trunk of the employee’s vehicle, kept in the glove compartment of the employee’s locked vehicle, or stored out of plain sight in the employee’s locked vehicle.

Another new Indiana law makes handgun carry license applicant and license holder information confidential.

Iowa

A recent Iowa law removed law enforcement discretion from the concealed weapon permit issuance process. Another law requires that a firearm’s attached magazines must be unloaded when carried in a vehicle on a public highway (in addition to the firearm being disassembled or contained in a locked case).

Another new Iowa law prohibits a person who is the subject of a no‑contact order or a protective order or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing, transferring, or selling firearms and ammunition, and provides mechanism for surrendering weapons to law enforcement.

Kansas

A Kansas law enacted in 2009 creates an exception to the crime of trafficking in firearms or ammunition in a correctional institution or care and treatment facility. The exception allows concealed weapon permit holders to possess guns or ammunition in a parking lot on their person or in a locked vehicle.

Louisiana

A new Louisiana law allows concealed weapons to be carried in houses of worship and expands the duration of concealed weapon permits from four to five years. Another new Louisiana law removes the prohibition that firearms may not be carried within 1,000 feet of a school. In addition, firearms may now be carried in state parks, state historic sites, state preservation areas, and other areas under the control of the office of state parks.

Maine

Maine recently adopted a law specifying that if there is an objection to the issuance of an initial permit to carry a firearm to a person who would otherwise be prohibited from doing so, the objection must be provided to the Commissioner of Public Safety in writing and, as is currently provided, the Commissioner may not issue the permit. This law also provides that the reason for the objection must be communicated in writing to the Commissioner in order for it to be the sole basis for denial.

In 2009, Maine enacted a law that requires mental health facilities to include, in discharge procedures, information regarding patient access to firearms and notification to the patient, the patient’s family, and caregivers, that possession by the person to be discharged is prohibited by federal law. The new law also requires increased law enforcement training and awareness of mental illness and the involuntary commitment process and increased sharing of mental health patients’ information by mental health professionals to law enforcement.

Maryland

A recently enacted Maryland law requires a final domestic violence protective order to compel the subject of the order to surrender all firearms in his or her possession and to refrain from possessing guns for the duration of the order.

Another Maryland law adopted in 2009 authorizes a judge entering a temporary protective order, including an ex parte order, to require the subject to surrender firearms and refrain from possessing a firearm for a certain period of time under certain circumstances.

Both laws require law enforcement to transport and store the firearms that are surrendered.

Michigan

Michigan recently passed a bill that provides additional grounds under which a domestic violence protection order may be granted which restricts possession of firearms.

Minnesota

In 2009, Minnesota enacted a law requiring that records regarding persons civilly committed, found not guilty by reason of mental illness, or incompetent to stand trial be transmitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (used for background checks of prospective firearm purchasers). The law authorizes certain persons prohibited under state law from possessing a firearm to petition a court for restoration of this right.

Another Minnesota law adopted in 2009 creates an exception to the existing requirement that firearms transported in a vehicle be unloaded and in a case or the vehicle’s trunk. The exception allows transportation of unloaded, uncased long guns while at a shooting range, while hunting, or while traveling to or from a site at which the person has hunted or intends to hunt on that day.

Mississippi

Mississippi recently adopted a statute permitting concealed weapons permit holders to carry firearms in state parks.

Missouri

A new Missouri law allows firearm possession by intoxicated individuals so long as the firearm is not used in a negligent or unlawful manner or discharged (except in self-defense).

Montana

Montana now allows open carrying of firearms and prohibits landlords and hotel or motel operators from preventing a tenant or a guest of a tenant from possessing a firearm on the premises.

In addition, Montana has declared firearms and/or ammunition manufactured, sold and possessed in the state exempt from federal firearms laws. Note that on July 16, 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published an open letter to licensed firearms dealers and manufacturers in Montana. The letter clarifies that federal recordkeeping and background check requirements, as well as all other federal requirements and prohibitions, continue to apply in Montana, despite the new law. The Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed suit in U.S. District Court to enforce the law.

Nebraska

A new Nebraska law exempts concealed weapon permit holders from the requirement to obtain a permit prior to purchase of a handgun.

Nevada

Nevada now requires courts to transmit certain records of adjudication concerning a person’s mental health to the state’s databases, which then must forward the records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (used for background checks of prospective firearm purchasers). The law also establishes procedures for petitioning a court to regain certain rights relating to the purchase or possession of a firearm.

New Jersey

A recent New Jersey law amends the process for reporting mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

In 2009, New Jersey enacted a law that prohibits individuals from purchasing, and dealers from selling, more than one handgun in a 30-day period. See our Restrictions on Multiple Purchases or Sales of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Two laws adopted in 2010 amend provisions of New Jersey’s one-handgun-a-month law:

One new law exempts from the one-handgun-a-month law any person who: 1) purchases from a person who obtained the handguns through inheritance or intestacy; 2) is a collector of handguns and has a legitimate reason or justification to purchase or otherwise receive multiple handguns; or 3) participates in lawfully sanctioned handgun shooting competitions and has a legitimate reason or justification to obtain multiple handguns.

The other new law clarifies that certain transfers of handguns are not subject to the one-handgun-a-month limitation, including transfers between or to dealers and manufacturers.

New Mexico

A recently-enacted New Mexico law allows concealed handguns in some restaurants that sell beer and wine.

North Dakota

North Dakota enacted a law in 2009 requiring courts to order domestic violence perpetrators to surrender firearms to law enforcement in certain situations.

Another recently-adopted law allows individuals, including non-concealed weapon permit holders, to openly carry firearms in public parks. Permits are still required to carry a concealed firearm.

Oklahoma

A recently enacted Oklahoma law prohibits release of a defendant arrested for violating an ex parte or permanent protective order without first appearing before a judge to determine whether he or she has access to deadly weapons and/or a history of use of deadly weapons.

In 2009, Oklahoma created a concealed weapon permit that is valid for ten years.

Another recently enacted state law allows residents of states that are not contiguous to Oklahoma to purchase long guns in Oklahoma. Likewise, residents of Oklahoma may now purchase long guns from states that are not contiguous to Oklahoma.

Oregon

In 2009, Oregon enacted a law requiring the state to report to the FBI people with mental health-related issues that prohibit them from possessing firearms for entry into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

South Carolina

South Carolina recently enacted a law allowing concealed weapon permittees to carry guns on elementary, secondary and post-secondary school property if they are stored as specified in an attended or locked motor vehicle.

South Dakota

South Dakota recently adopted a law exempting from federal regulation any firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained solely within South Dakota.

In 2009, South Dakota repealed the state’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases.

Tennessee

A new Tennessee law authorizes a concealed carry permit holder to carry a handgun on a greenway that runs through a park, even if a municipality prohibits firearms in such park. Another newly enacted law allows a person without a concealed carry permit to transport unloaded long guns in privately owned motor vehicles.

Also in 2010, legislation was enacted that allows firearms to be carried in establishments that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises so long as the individual is not consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm. The legislation repealed a similar provision enacted in 2009 that was found to be unconstitutionally vague by a state court.

Other Tennessee laws enacted in 2009:

  • Allow handgun carry permittees to carry handguns within the boundaries of any state park. The law allows local jurisdictions to opt out of the law as applied to parks owned or operated by the jurisdiction. Several local jurisdictions, including Memphis and Nashville, have done so.
  • Allow handgun carry permittees to carry handguns in a refuge, public hunting area, wildlife management area or on national forest land.
  • Allow handgun carry permittees to possess unloaded long guns in motor vehicles and loaded long guns in motor vehicles if ammunition is inserted for purposes of justifiable self-defense.
  • Remove the requirement that the purchaser of a firearm provide a thumbprint as part of background check process when purchasing from a dealer.
  • Declare firearms and/or ammunition manufactured, sold and possessed in the state exempt from federal firearms laws. Note that on July 16, 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published an open letter to licensed firearms dealers and manufacturers in Tennessee. The letter clarifies that federal recordkeeping and background check requirements, as well as all other federal requirements and prohibitions, continue to apply in Tennessee despite the new law.

Tennessee also strengthened regulation of firearms in 2009. A new law requires subjects of domestic violence protection orders to surrender all firearms to law enforcement and creates a misdemeanor for such persons to posses a firearm. Another 2009 law creates a misdemeanor for purchase or attempted purchase of a firearm by a prohibited person and for sale or attempted sale to a known prohibited person. Finally, a different new Tennessee law requires submission of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (used for background checks of prospective firearm purchasers), adds categories to the state’s prohibited purchaser law, and denies handgun carry permits to applicants with specified mental health histories.

Texas

Texas recently enacted a law that prohibits municipalities located in certain counties from regulating the discharge of firearms in extraterritorial jurisdictions or annexed areas. There are some exceptions for land that is located near sensitive areas such as schools and residential areas.

Another recently-adopted law requires submission of firearm prohibition records to the Department of Public Safety for further submission to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (used for background checks of prospective firearm purchasers), and provides a process for petitioning for relief from disabilities due to mental health history.

Texas also enacted a law in 2009 that creates an affirmative defense to prosecution for the offense of unlawful carrying of a handgun by a license holder on the premises of certain businesses if the offender was not given notice that carrying a firearm was not permitted.

Utah

Utah recently adopted a law providing that any firearm or firearm‑related item manufactured in Utah for in‑state use only is not subject to federal firearms laws.

Another new Utah law removes the requirement that a concealed carry permit applicant demonstrate good character.

In 2009, Utah enacted a law that prevents any person or entity from establishing a policy that prohibits firearms in vehicles on any property designated for motor vehicle parking. Exceptions include school and residential building parking areas. In addition, a person may restrict firearms in a parking lot if an alternate parking location or a secured and monitored firearm storage area is available.

Another Utah law adopted in 2009 allows any person of legal age to possess a handgun, whether loaded or unloaded, or an unloaded long gun, in or on a vehicle if the:

  • Vehicle is in the lawful possession of the person carrying the gun; or
  • Vehicle’s lawful possessor consents to the gun possession.

Virginia

Virginia enacted a measure that allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms in establishments that serve alcohol for on-premises consumption. Another law allows any person who may lawfully possess a firearm to carry a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel if the handgun is secured in a container or compartment. Virginia also enacted a law providing that a conviction from another state for driving while intoxicated or for drunkenness in public within the preceding three years disqualifies an individual from obtaining a concealed weapon permit.

In addition, Virginia enacted a law that prohibits ammunition possession by convicted felons (mirroring federal law). Virginia enacted a law allowing concealed weapon permit applicants to satisfy safety course requirements online. Another 2009 law makes some concealed weapon permit application information confidential.

Virginia repealed a law that authorized counties to require handgun sellers to submit sales records to county circuit courts. The law now requires destruction of all such records already maintained.

Washington

Washington added to the types of involuntary commitments that result in a prohibition on firearm possession. The law requires a court committing a person or finding a person not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty of an offense that would result in prohibition on firearm possession to forward, within three days, relevant records to the state database and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (used for background checks of prospective firearm purchasers). The law also requires notice to patients that commitment results in firearm prohibition and provides a system for petitioning for relief from disability.

West Virginia

A West Virginia law creates a crime for knowingly soliciting, persuading, encouraging or enticing a firearms dealer or private firearms or ammunition seller to transfer a firearm or ammunition unlawfully (there is an exception for law enforcement acting in their official capacity).

Wisconsin

A Wisconsin law requires that mental health records be sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The law also requires state courts, when making certain mental health-related dispositions, to determine whether the disposition renders a defendant prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm and, if so, to order him or her not to possess firearms and to order seizure of his or her firearms.

Wyoming

Wyoming adopted a law providing that specified firearms that are manufactured, sold, purchased, possessed and used exclusively within Wyoming are exempt from federal firearms regulation.

Another Wyoming law removes the requirement that concealed weapons permits be recognized only from states that require a background check as part of permit process.