Is it Legal to Open Carry a Gun?

In the past, most states across the nation either prohibited or strongly regulated carrying firearms in public spaces. Over the past 30 years, however, many states laws regarding gun control have changed dramatically. During those three decades several states across the nation have weakened prior gun control laws and now allow more and more people to carry guns in public spaces. One consequence of these changes in gun laws is that they have also reduced law enforcement’s ability to keep potentially dangerous individuals from carrying guns in public spaces.  

“Open Carry” Explained

The term “open carry” refers to the legal practice of carrying a firearm on your person in plain view, in public spaces. While the majority of states do still require a permit in order for someone to open carry a weapon in public, most now have few to zero restrictions on open carry. Indeed, as many as 31 states in the nation allow people to open carry a handgun without needing to obtain a gun license or permit. That being said, some states require the gun be unloaded in order to lawfully open carry a firearm. Some sort of gun license or permit is required in 15 states in order to openly carry a handgun.

Laws Governing “Open Carry”

Notably, no federal law exists on the books that restricts individuals from open carrying firearms in public. That being said, specific rules regarding open carry may apply to property that is owned or operated by the federal government. Three states in the nation -- California, Florida, and Illinois -- as well as the District of Columbia presently prohibit individuals from open carrying firearms in public. New York and South Carolina currently prohibit open carry of handguns, but allow it for long guns. In Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey the opposite is true. The rest of the states generally allow people to openly carry firearms, however, some states require licenses or permits to do so while others do not.

Nevada Law

Generally speaking, local governments in the state of Nevada lack the legal authority to regulate firearms and their ammunition. Moreover, the state of Nevada mandates local law enforcement to issue concealed handgun licenses to any application who meet the specific basic requirements to have one.

Nevada has several requirements regarding handguns including:

  • Requires individuals subject to a domestic violence protective order relinquish their guns to law enforcement officials;

  • Mandates the submission of a variety of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS) for us when conducting a background check on a firearm purchaser;

  • Allows for a court process to mandate those prohibited individuals convicted of specific crimes to hand over any firearms in their possession; and

  • Grants the Nevada Department of Public Safety the ability to conduct a background check for a firearm transfer between private parties, upon the seller’s request.

That being said, the state of Nevada does not require the registration of firearms, license firearm owners, impose a mandatory waiting period on gun purchases, regulate unsafe handguns, prohibit transfer or possession of certain firearms (i.e., assault weapons, large capacity ammunition magazines, and 50 caliber rifles), or prosecute individuals who fail to conduct a background check prior to transferring a firearm between private parties.

If you have any more questions about Nevada handgun laws, or any other legal question, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Parry & Pfau today.

(image courtesy of Sebastian Pociecha)