Kentucky Gun Laws

Kentucky is one of the most gun-friendly states in the US, so much so that many residents in Kentucky believe that guns are an element of the Commonwealth’s culture.

Despite being very gun-friendly, the state does have its own set of Kentucky gun laws and if you want to avoid a weapons charge, it’ll do you good to get familiar with the law. Our article today provides an overview of essential information on Kentucky Gun Laws.

Summary of Kentucky Gun Laws in 2022

The state of Kentucky is shall-issue, permitless carry state with licenses processed by the Kentucky State Police. The state does not require residents to obtain a license when purchasing a firearm from a private individual.

There is also no waiting period and no firearms registration required in the state. However, a background checks is required for someone buying a handgun from a Federal Firearms Dealer.

According to Kentucky law, open carry without a license if legal for anyone that’s at least 18 years old provided the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm. However, some areas are still off-limits such as businesses that are primarily devoted ot the sale of alcohol.

In terms of concealed weapons, Kentucky is now a permitless carry state that makes it legal for anyone at least 21 years old to legally carry a concealed firearm without a license/permit. However, those who want to continue carrying concealed weapons out-of-state will need to get a conceal carry license.

Kentucky’s concealed carry licenses are known as Concealed Carry of Deadly Weapons (CCDW) licenses and apply to weapons like handguns, knives, clubs, blackjacks, nunchaku, shuriken, and brass knuckles.

In order to obtain a concealed deadly weapons license, the person needs to successfully complete their firearms training course that’s state-approved. Concealed carry deadly weapon licenses are available to both residents and military personnel stationed in Kentucky but not for non-residents.

Self Defense

Kentucky is a Castle Doctrine state with a “stand your ground” law. The person has no duty to retreat when engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be.

The said person has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes that such actions is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or to someone else.

Use of Physical Force in Self or Third Party Defense

Kentucky gun laws allow the use of physical force by a person when the person believes that such force is necessary to protect himself or herself or a third party against the use of unlawful physical force.

Additionally, the use of deadly force is justifiable when the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to protect himself or a third party against death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, rape, or other felony involving the use of force.

  • Dwelling, Residence, or Occupied Vehicle Defense

A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm when using deadly force to prevent someone else’s unlawful entry upon their own dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. This also applies to an attempt by the person to remove another against their will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle.

  • Protection of Property

According to Kentucky Law, the use of physical force by a person is justified when the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent criminal trespass, robbery, burglary, or other felony involving the use of their dwelling, building, or real property, or theft, criminal mischief, or any unlawful taking of movable property from his or her possession.

The use of deadly force upon another person is only justifiable when the person reasonably believes that the perpetrator is attempting to dispossess him or her of the dwelling, committing or attempting burglary, robbery, or other felony involving the use of force or committing or attempting to commit arson.

Basics of Kentucky Gun Laws

Does Kentucky allow permitless carry?

Yes, the gun laws in Kentucky allow permitless open carry and concealed carry as of July 1, 2019. Any person who is at least 18 years old and legally entitled to possess a firearm can open carry a weapon in Kentucky.

What is the minimum age in Kentucky for a concealed deadly weapon license?

The minimum age to get a concealed deadly weapon, such as a handgun, in Kentucky is 21 years old.

Does the concealed carry license in Kentucky include concealed weapons other than handguns?

According to Kentucky State Police, other items covered by the concealed carry license include any knife (except ordinary pocket or hunting knife, a night stick or club), blackjack or slaphack, nunchaku, shuriken, and artificial knuckles.

Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Kentucky?

Yes, Kentucky Law allows the purchase and possession of stun guns and tasers without a license.

Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray or pepper spray in Kentucky?

Yes, Kentucky does not have any statute prohibiting the purchase or use of chemical spray or pepper spray.

Does Kentucky have restrictions on magazine capacity for handguns?

No, Kentucky does not has a state-mandated limit to handgun magazine capacity.

Does Kentucky have ammunition restrictions?

Yes, Kentucky prohibits the use of armor-piercing ammunition.

Carry Locations

Here are a few locations in Kentucky where you can carry a firearm:

  • In a vehicle (for anyone at least 21 years old with a valid license and has no restrictions on lawful firearm possession)
  • Roadside rest area
  • State/national parks, state/national forests and Wildlife Management Areas
  • Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol
  • Private vehicles in an employee parking lot

Location Restrictions

Below are areas and places in Kentucky that are off-limits to carrying a concealed firearm even with a permit/license:

  • Elementary or secondary school facility without the consent of school authorities.
  • Child-care facility, day-care center, or any certified family child-care home.
  • School bus.
  • Police station or sheriff’s office.
  • Detention facility, prison, or jail.
  • Courthouse is solely occupied by the Court of Justice courtroom or court proceeding.
  • Meeting of governing body of a county, municipality, or special district, or any meeting of General Assembly or committee of the General Assembly.
  • Any room where alcoholic beverages are sold. This does not include restaurants that are open to the public with dining facilities for at least 50 people with less than 50% of their annual food and beverage income from the sale of alcohol.
  • Airport area which is controlled by the inspection of persons and property.
  • Any place where carrying of firearms is prohibited by Federal law or state law or regulation.
  • Colleges, universities, technical schools, and community colleges have exercised their authority to limit carry concealed weapons.
  • Private businesses who have exercised their authority to limit carry concealed firearms.
  • Areas in which state and local governments who have exercised their authority to limit carry concealed weapons.

Key State Laws

Do you have a duty to notify a police officer that you are carrying concealed firearm?

No, residents of Kentucky do not have the duty to inform a law enforcement officer that they bear arms unless asked.

Is the carry license linked to the driver’s license in Kentucky?

Yes, the concealed carry of deadly weapons license is linked to your Kentucky driver’s license. Therefore, law enforcement will immediately know that you are a concealed carry license holder if they run your driver’s license.

Are “No Weapons Allowed” signs enforced in Kentucky?

No, “No Weapons Allowed” signs are not enforced in Kentucky unless they are posted in areas that are specifically mentioned in state law or federal law as being off-limits even with a permit or license to carry.

Does Kentucky have preemption laws related to concealed carry?

Yes, Kentucky does have preemption of all gun laws with the exception that section 237.115(2) specifically authorizes the legislative bodies of city, county, and urban-county governments to prohibit the carry of concealed weapons by state licensees in buildings owned, leased, or controlled by that government unit. Cities can only enforce a concealed carry ban if there’s an ordinance that makes it illegal but they cannot prohibit open carry into those buildings.

Does Kentucky have a red flag law?

No, Kentucky does not have a red flag law.

How does Kentucky law define brandishing?

There is no definition of brandishing in the Kentucky law. However, a person can be found guilty of disorderly conduct int he second degree when he or she causes public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or wantonly creating risk including engaging in a fight, violent, tumultous, or threatening behavior.

Does Kentucky issue concealed carry licenses to non-residents?

Yes, Kentucky does issue licenses to carry a concealed weapon to non-residents but only to members of the military on active duty assigned to a military post in Kentucky.

Concealed Carry Weapons License Information for Kentucky

In order to apply for a concealed carry weapons license in Kentucky, the applicant must

  • Be at least 12 years old.
  • Be a US citizen or legal resident.
  • Be a resident of Kentucky.
  • Demonstrate competence with a firearm
  • Not have been committed o a state or federal facility for abuse of controlled substance or convicted of misdemeanour related to controlled substance 3 years prior to application.
  • Not have 2 or more convictions for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substance.
  • Not have been committed as an alcoholic within the last 3 years.
  • Not owe a child support arrearage which equals or exceeds the cumulative amount which would be owed after 1 year of non-payment.
  • Have complied with any subpoena or warrant related to child support or paternity proceedings.
  • Not have been convicted of assault in the fourth degree or terroristic threatening in the third degree with 3 years prior to application.
  • Meet federal law requirements.

Fees: Initial license and renewals are $60 ($20 goes to county sheriff and $40 to Kentucky State Treasurer)

Validity: 5 years

Processing Time: 90 Days


Non-Resident Licenses: Kentucky issues non-resident licenses to members of military on active duty assigned to a military post in Kentucky.

Concealed Firearms License Application Process

Step 1: Complete a state-approved firearms training course or firearms safety course.

Step 2: Present the training certificate and passport-type photo at the sheriff’s office and complete the application form.

Step 3: Pay the $60 fee.

Step 4: Wait for the notification of your application’s status.

Firearms Safety Course Requirements

The firearms safe course must be approved by the Department of Criminal Justice and shall:

  • Not exceed 8 hours in length
  • Include instruction on handguns including safe use, care, and cleaning of handguns, and handgun marksmnanship principles.
  • Include actual range firing of handgun in a safe manner and firing of not more than 20 rounds at a full-sized silhouette target, during which no fewer than 11 rounds must hit the silhouette portion of the target.
  • Include information on and a copy of laws relating to possession and carrying of firearms.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the law regarding justifiable use of force.
  • Training Exemptions – Active or honorably discharged service members or a reserve component thereof, current and retired peace officers and corrections officers may be exempted from the firearms safety course as they are deemed to have met the training requirement. Persons seeking a training exemption to carry a concealed weapon will need to submit documentation with their application to show evidence of handgun qualifications.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity with Other States

Permitless carry, at least 21 years old

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • New York City
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Puerto Rico

Other States’ Reciprocity With Kentucky

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Idaho (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Montana (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Vermont (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

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