See our Concealed Carry policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
In 2019, Kentucky repealed its requirement that people obtain a license and background check to carry concealed firearms in public. Kentucky now authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is eligible to possess a firearm to carry a concealed deadly weapon in public. People carrying guns without a permit are still subject to the same location restrictions that previously existed for people carrying with a permit.
Kentucky still issues concealed carry licenses for people who may still wish to obtain them for the purposes of carrying in other states. Kentucky is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the Kentucky Department of State Police (“DSP”) must issue a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon if the applicant meets certain qualifications. An applicant for a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon must:
- Be a United States citizen or a person lawfully admitted to the United States;
- Be 21 years of age or older;
- Be eligible to possess a firearm under state and federal law;
- Not have been committed to a facility for abuse of a controlled substance or been convicted of a misdemeanor related to controlled substances, within the previous three years;
- Not have been convicted two or more times of driving under the influence or involuntarily committed to a hospital for treatment as an alcoholic, within the previous three years;
- Not owe a child support arrearage equaling or exceeding one year of nonpayment, if DSP have been notified of the arrearage by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services;
- Have complied with any subpoena or warrant relating to child support or paternity proceedings, unless the Cabinet for Health and Family Services does not notify DSP of the proceedings; and
- Not have been convicted of assault or “terroristic threatening” within the preceding three years, unless DSP has waived this requirement based on good cause and a determination that the applicant is not a danger.
Firearm Safety Training
Kentucky law requires that an applicant demonstrate “competence with a firearm by successful completion of a firearms safety or training course that is conducted by a firearms instructor who is certified by a national organization that certifies firearms instructors and includes the use of written tests, in person instruction, and a component of live-fire training, or a firearms safety course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training.” The course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training must be no more than eight hours in length, and include instruction on the safe use of handguns, the care and cleaning of handguns, and handgun marksmanship principles. The course must include actual range firing of a handgun in a safe manner, and the firing of not more than 20 rounds at a full-size silhouette target, during which firing, not less than 11 rounds must hit the silhouette portion of the target. The course must also include information on and a copy of Kentucky laws relating to possession and carrying of firearms, and the Kentucky laws relating to the use of force. The applicant must also demonstrate knowledge of the law regarding the justifiable use of force by including with the application a copy of the concealed carry deadly weapons legal handout made available by the Department of Criminal Justice Training and a signed statement that indicates that applicant has read and understands the handout.
Duration & Renewal
Kentucky licenses to carry concealed deadly weapons are valid for five years from the date of issuance. Kentucky law prevents a license from being renewed without a background check, including a NICS check, and a determination that the applicant is eligible for the license. Kentucky law also prevents a license from being renewed more than six months after its expiration date; at that time the license is deemed permanently expired and the licensee must reapply for licensure.
Disclosure or Use of Information
Kentucky law requires DSP to maintain an automated listing of persons with licenses to carry concealed deadly weapons and other pertinent information. The database must be available at all times online to all law enforcement agencies who request information relating to a named licensee. However, DSP must deny a request for the entire list of licensees or for all licensees in a geographic area. Information relating to license applicants and holders must otherwise remain confidential.
Kentucky law allows a person who has a valid license to carry a concealed deadly weapon from another state to carry a concealed deadly weapon in Kentucky. In addition, Kentucky law requires DSP to enter into written reciprocity agreements with other states so that Kentucky license holders may carry concealed deadly weapons in the other state either on the basis of a Kentucky-issued concealed deadly weapon license, or because the other state will issue its own license to carry concealed deadly weapons based upon a Kentucky concealed deadly weapon license.