Concealed Carry: Unrestricted, Shall-Issue and May-Issue Explained
What's really funny, I noticed after I was done outlining this article, is the length of the explanation of each term kept getting longer and longer the further down the rabbit hole I went. The amount of restrictions that the term involved, directly correlated with the amount of words I had to use to describe it. It's like the more left-winged you get the more you have to explain your thinking to try to justify yourself.
Anyways, here's a brief summary of each issuing term used for concealed carry. I will follow up with a list of states under each category. It's always good to know under which jurisdiction you may fall. If you ever relocate, be sure to check your local laws out as well. Ignorance is not always bliss.
An Unrestricted jurisdiction is an area in which a permit or license is not required to carry a concealed handgun. This is sometimes called "Constitutional Carry". Within the Unrestricted category, there are two subcategories in which some states are Fully Unrestricted (where no permit or license is required for lawful concealed carry) and Partially Unrestricted (where certain forms of concealed carry may be legal without a permit, while other forms of carry may require a permit).
A Shall-Issue jurisdiction is one that requires a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun, but where the granting is subject to meeting certain criteria laid out in the law. The granting authority has no discretion in the awarding of the licenses, and there is no requirement of the applicant to demonstrate "good cause". The laws in a Shall-Issue jurisdiction typically state that a granting authority shall issue a license if the criteria are met, as opposed to laws in which the authority may issue a license at their discretion.
Typical license requirements include residency, minimum age, submitting fingerprints, passing a computerized instant background check (or a more comprehensive manual background check), attending a certified handgun/firearm safety class, passing a practical qualification demonstrating handgun proficiency, and paying a required fee. These requirements vary by jurisdiction.
A May-Issue jurisdiction is one that requires a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun and where the granting of such permits is at the discretion of local authorities. Issuing authorities in most May-Issue states are not required to provide a substantive reason for the denial of a concealed carry permit.
The law typically states that a granting authority may issue a permit if various criteria are met, or that the permit applicant must have "good cause" to carry a concealed weapon. In most such situations, self-defense often does not satisfy the "good cause" requirement. Some May-Issue jurisdictions require a permit-holder to provide justification for continued need for a concealed carry permit upon renewal, and may deny the renewal of an expiring permit without sufficient showing of "good cause."
Some of these jurisdictions may revoke a permit after it has been issued when the issuing authority in its discretion has determined that the "good cause" used in approving the permit application no longer exists. Other May-Issue jurisdictions allow for automatic renewal of the permit, as long as the permit-holder completes any required firearms safety training and files the renewal application before the permit expires. Some May-Issue jurisdictions give issuing authorities discretion in granting concealed carry permits based on an applicant's suitability by requiring the applicant to submit evidence showing the applicant is of suitable character to be issued a permit. Basically it's up to the local authorities to decide who gets to obtain a CCW permit. Let's cross our fingers and hope that the granting authorities are not discriminating against gender or race, didn't get picked on by you in high school, and are in a good mood when reviewing permit applications.