2011 Developments in State Firearms Laws by State

Posted on December 19, 2011

Updated December 19, 2011

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

Alabama

A new Alabama law makes straw purchasing and other fraudulent transfers a state crime.

Arizona

A new Arizona law reduces oversight of firearm training programs by the state and allows applicants for concealed weapon permits (which are optional in Arizona) to obtain instruction from NRA-certified instructors that have not been approved by the Department of Public Safety.

Arizona has enacted a law naming an official state gun.

Arkansas

Arkansas recently enacted a law that restricts concealed weapons in certain restaurants such as restaurants in convention centers and hotels. The law also broadens the grounds for denying a concealed weapon permit applicant based on a likelihood of danger to self or others. Finally, the new law eliminates the requirement that a permit holder report to state police the loss or other disposition of his or her handgun.

Another new Arkansas law authorizes criminal courts to issue a no contact order, which may include a prohibition against firearms possession, to a defendant in a criminal proceeding if it appears that a danger exists that the defendant will commit a serious crime, seek to intimidate a witness, or otherwise unlawfully interfere with the orderly administration of justice.

California

California enacted several significant firearms laws in 2011. First, a new record-keeping requirement will help law enforcement solve and prevent gun crimes by requiring the California Department of Justice to retain copies of sales records for rifles and shotguns, as it already does for handguns. A second law will prohibit the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public places statewide. A third law will enable the state Department of Justice to use firearm sales fees to fund programs to disarm convicted criminals and the mentally ill.

Delaware

A new Delaware law requires submission of mental health records to the FBI for inclusion in the NICS database. Another new law imposes a burden on any person requesting that law enforcement return confiscated ammunition or a firearm to prove that he or she is not a prohibited person. Delaware has also made it a crime to possess a firearm while in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

District of Columbia

A new District law provides that, beginning January 1, 2013, a federal firearms licensee may not sell or offer to sell a newly manufactured semiautomatic pistol unless it is capable of microstamping. The previous deadline was January 1, 2011. Another new District law changes the time at which the 10-day waiting period for delivery of a firearm begins. Under the new law, the 10-day period beings on the date of purchase; under previous law, the waiting period began when an application was submitted for purchase.

Florida

Florida now allows concealed weapon permit holders to “briefly” carry firearms openly. A new Florida law removes county authority to impose waiting periods on firearms sales. The law also requires that if a local government or agency is found to have exceeded its legislative authority to regulate firearms, the head of the jurisdiction or agency can be personally fined up to $5,000 and fired. In addition, a person or organization whose membership has been adversely affected by a local firearms law that is found to be preempted can sue for damages up to $100,000. Another law renders permanent a temporary provision making concealed carry records confidential.

Another new Florida law provides that it is a violation of a protection order to refuse to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by a court.

Florida recently enacted a law that prohibits a health care practitioner or health care facility from routinely recording information, or inquiring about, firearm ownership or the presence of firearms in the home. Health care practitioners risk disciplinary action for a violation of the law.

Illinois

Under a new Illinois law, the names and identifying information of applicants for, and recipients of, Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards are no longer public information.

Another new Illinois law removes a requirement that courts make a specific finding regarding firearms prior to prohibiting the subject of a domestic violence protection order from firearm possession. Under the new law, the subject of a protection order may be prohibited from firearm possession if the order was issued after a noticed hearing and finds the subject is a threat to protected parties or prohibits specified activity.

Indiana

Indiana has enacted a new law that makes that state’s broad preemption of local authority to regulate firearms even worse. Under this measure, political subdivisions — defined to include school corporations, public libraries, public transportation entities and some local hospital authorities – are prohibited from restricting firearm possession. In addition, the law now prohibits local governments from restricting concealed weapon permit holders from carrying firearms in most government buildings. A person (or membership organization) adversely affected by a local firearms ordinance that is found to be preempted by state law may be awarded actual damages and liquidated damages up to three times the amount of the party’s attorneys fees.

Another newly enacted Indiana law allows job applicants and current employees to sue any public or private employer for requiring them to disclose information about firearm ownership or use. The law allows courts to award actual and punitive damages.

Indiana also enacted laws in 2011 that allow the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit on land the person owns or that is owned by another person who has given his or her consent, and that extend the duration of a handgun dealer license from two to six years.

Iowa

Pursuant to a new law enacted in Iowa, relevant mental health records must be sent to the FBI for inclusion in the NICS database.

Kansas

Kansas recently enacted a law that allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry in or on the grounds of any public or private school property or grounds instructing children in grades K-12. The new law also allows permit holders to carry firearms at school sponsored activities and events.

Kentucky

Kentucky has enacted a law that requires a court that adjudicates a person as a mental defective or commits a person to a mental institution to submit that person’s name and identifying information to the state police. The law requires the state police to forward the information to the FBI for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The new law also establishes a process by which a person may petition for relief of a firearm prohibition due to a history of mental illness.

Another recent Kentucky law allows any person not prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in a vehicle in any closed container which may include a seat pocket or center console.

Louisiana

Louisiana no longer requires residents who apply for a concealed weapon permit to have been a resident of the state for at least six months.

Maine

In 2011, Maine enacted several new measures:

Maryland

Maryland no longer restricts possession of handgun or assault weapon ammunition to persons 21 years of age or older. Maryland also enacted a law in 2011 that prohibits long gun possession by a person convicted of a crime of violence or certain drug-related crimes.

Mississippi

A new Mississippi law creates an exception that allows concealed weapon permit holders who voluntarily obtain specified firearms training to carry firearms in courthouses, polling places, government meetings, any school, college or professional athletic event, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, any elementary or secondary school facility, any junior college, community college, college or university facility, inside the passenger terminal of any airport, and in any church or other place of worship.

Missouri

Missouri has changed the minimum age required for a concealed weapons permit from 23 to 21. The new law also prohibits fraudulent firearms transfers such as straw purchases.

Nevada

A new Nevada law broadens the concealed weapon permit information that is confidential and eliminates a requirement to obtain a separate permit for each semi-automatic firearm that will be carried. Another Nevada law prohibits the Division of State Parks from regulating the possession or discharge of firearms in state parks in a manner that is more restrictive than state law. Nevada has expanded the category of local jurisdictions that are preempted from regulating firearms.

New York

A new law enacted in New York provides that when a court finds a defendant guilty of certain violent crimes and that he/she is related or situated to the victim so as to constitute a domestic violence relationship pursuant to federal law, the clerk must notify the Division of Criminal Justice Services to enable submission of the relevant records to the FBI for inclusion in the NICS database.

North Carolina

North Carolina now allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms in state parks and store firearms in vehicles in parking areas at the State Capitol Building and other state property. The law also weakens restrictions on possession of handguns by minors, repeals the prohibition against firearms in financial institutions, expands concealed weapon permit reciprocity, and prohibits fraudulent firearms transfers.

North Dakota

Courts in North Dakota are now required, after certain mental health-related proceedings, to make a finding as to whether the subject of the proceeding is prohibited by federal law from firearm possession. If the subject is found prohibited, the court must forward the relevant records to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation to be forwarded to NICS. Another new law tightens requirements for certain concealed weapon permits.

Another new North Dakota law prohibits public or private employers from inquiring into the presence of, or restricting, a firearm in a customer, employee, or invitee’s vehicle in a parking area. The law requires courts to award attorney’s fees and damages to an aggrieved party.

Ohio

A new Ohio law allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry concealed firearms in restaurants, bars and arenas and removes restrictions on how firearms may be carried in a vehicle.

In addition, Ohio no longer prohibits persons convicted of misdemeanor drug offenses from possessing firearms.

Oklahoma

A new Oklahoma law allows concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms on the campuses of technology center schools. Another law prohibits fraudulent firearms transfers such as straw purchases.

The Oklahoma Legislature has designated June 28th of every year as “Second Amendment Day” to commemorate the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago which held that the Second Amendment allows individuals to keep handguns in the home for self-defense.

Tennessee

A new Tennessee statute provides that the decision to allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry handguns on individual, corporation or government property does not constitute a state occupational safety and health hazard.

Texas

Texas enacted a law restricting public and private employers from prohibiting firearm possession by employees in vehicles in parking areas. Another Texas law applies the same requirements for carrying handguns in motor vehicles to handguns carried in watercraft. Texas also now prohibits the Department of Family and Child Services from restricting a foster parent from carrying a handgun in a vehicle while transporting a foster child. Finally, owners and operators of shooting ranges in Texas are now protected by an immunity provision that limits their liability in lawsuits brought by local governments, state agencies or individuals. The new law also preempts municipal and county governments from regulating shooting ranges.

Utah

Utah law now requires a nonresident applicant for a concealed weapon permit to provide proof of his or her home state concealed weapon permit and provides penalties if such proof is fraudulent.

Utah has enacted a law that allows concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms in buildings, parks and stadiums being used for K-12 school activity. The new law also allows permit holders to carry firearms within 1,000 feet of school grounds and in buildings that house preschools and daycare centers.

Utah has also become the first state to create an official state gun.

Virginia

A new Virginia law prohibits purchase or transportation of firearms by the subject of a preliminary protection order issued by a court that finds abuse or neglect of a child.

Washington

Washington enacted a law that denies concealed weapon permits to applicants who are ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law.

Wisconsin

A new Wisconsin law removes the requirement that an unloaded long gun carried in a regular or all-terrain vehicle be enclosed in a case and allows any firearm to be carried in a vehicle that is not moving.

Wisconsin law also now allows the carrying of concealed weapons with a permit and provides no discretion to issuing authorities.

Wyoming

Wyoming recently enacted a law that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms in public without a permit if they meet the criteria, with the exception of firearm safety training, required to obtain a concealed weapon permit. Prior Wyoming law required concealed weapon holders to apply for a permit, pass a background check, and demonstrate familiarity with a firearm. In addition, local law enforcement was given discretion to deny a permit to an applicant when there was reasonable grounds to believe he or she was likely to be a danger to self or the community as demonstrated by past behavior or incidents involving drugs, alcohol or violence. Only three other states, Vermont, Alaska, and Arizona, allow concealed weapons to be carried without a license.