Gun Rights in Kentucky
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Gun Rights in Kentucky

Do you know your rights as a gun owner? Kentucky allows open carry and concealed carry of firearms including shotguns, rifles, handguns.

To own a firearm, you must be a legal citizen of the United States. You are not legally required to register your firearms and you do not need a license for shotguns or rifles. Though it is not written in the Kentucky gun law, it is assumed that the legal age to own a firearm is 18 years old. Firearms may be purchased from any licensed dealer, manufacturer, or shop in any state.

Open carry and concealed carry of handguns are allowed in Kentucky. Open carry is when a firearm is visibly carried by a person or visible within a vehicle. It is important to know that by open carrying a handgun you are more prone to encounters with law enforcement. If an open carry weapon is clearly visible, police officers have the right to question you if your weapon is brought to their attention.

Concealed carrying is having a weapon on your person that is not easily visible, yet immediately accessible for use.  Any person over 21, who is eligible to lawfully possess a firearm, under state and federal law may carry concealed deadly weapons, concealed on or about his or her person. Persons under age 21 may be eligible to possess a firearm, but are not allowed to carry the firearm (or other deadly weapon) concealed in Kentucky. 

Previously, Kentucky required a carry concealed deadly weapons license (CCDW).  CCDW licenses are still available.  Only a valid CCDW license will serve as a substitute for the NICS background check when purchasing a firearm.  To apply for a CCDW license, you must be a resident of Kentucky for at least 6 months prior to filling out an application (exception for military personnel) and 21 years old. Other qualifications for a CCDW license are outlined by the Kentucky State Police.

The following are required when applying for a CCDW license:

  • application form, completed under oath
  • name, address, date of birth, gender, and social security number
  • recent color photograph
  • photocopy of a certificate or document stating the completion of a firearms training course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training

The test will be submitted to the Kentucky State Police within 5 business days. Within 90 days after receiving your test, the Kentucky State Police will either issue a license or deny the application. If denied, you will be informed in writing of the reasons for denial within 30 days.

CCDW licenses are good for up to 5 years and can be renewed after the license term is up. You must renew your license 120 days before the expiration date. Upon your CCDW license expiration, a written notice will be mailed from the Department of State Police notifying you that your license will expire. Download the renewal form and submit to renew your license.

Most public areas allow the open carry or concealed carry of a handgun. Open carry and concealed weapons are restricted from being carried into public facilities such as schools, police stations, courthouses, daycare centers, and any business that sells alcohol for consumption on the premises. If carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle, place in the glove box, center console, or seat pocket. It is illegal to place a concealed weapon under the driver’s seat.

Carry of concealed deadly weapons by Kentucky residents visiting other states is governed by the laws of those other states. At this time, only states that require no license for any person to carry a concealed weapon would allow Kentucky residents to carry concealed deadly weapons with no CCDW license. The laws of those states may also differ on what weapons may be carried.

It is important to know your rights as a gun owner. You can learn more information on gun laws in Kentucky here.