May 15

Can you Open Carry in Kentucky?

I have covered this topic in a previous post but the post continues to be extremely popular and I get multiple direct and search hits every day on that post. So I figured I would post a follow-up to my previous open carry post with more information for a comprehensive open carry post.

Open carry simply means “openly carrying a firearm in public.” In the United States the laws concerning open carry vary from state to state. In Kentucky, open carry is permitted without a license or permit. Don’t get this confused with concealed carry where it is required to have a license. With open carry you can carry into any place of business (as long as it is not clearly posted that carrying is not allowed) with full protection under Kentucky Law. Of course you can’t carry into a bank or courthouse and a few other government buildings, but even those buildings are required to post that you aren’t allowed to carry so it’s always important to check if you are openly carrying a firearm.

Opencarry.org, a non-profit organization that lobbies for open carry rights in the US describe Kentucky as a “Gold Star” state for open carry. Their summary is as follows:

Kentucky is one of our “Gold Star” open carry states. There is complete state preemption of all firearms laws, open carry is constitutionally protected with court precedent and law enforcement is aware of its legality.

That’s right, open carry is protected under the state Constitution and we have the right to openly carry firearms legally. As stated above, a business has the right to prohibit guns from being carried into the store, whether openly or concealed. The flip side is that as a gun carrier, you can choose not to purchase the businesses goods or services.

In a vehicle it is legal to openly carry a firearm as long as it is in plain view or in the glove box. If it’s under the seat, or stashed away, it becomes concealed and at that point illegal if you don’t have a concealed weapons license. This is stated in KRS 527.020 and does not include a center console.

The Kentucky constitution has a strong preemptive gun law that prevents firearms from being locally regulated. This means that no local governments (city or county) can pass any law concerning gun rights that go against the Kentucky Constitution. The preemption law also applies to college campuses, but not public school systems (K-12). Federal law prohibits firearms on K-12 school property, but the laws regarding carry on college campuses in KY are left up to the policy of the individual college. If you plan on carrying on a college campus, make sure to check the school’s policies because most don’t allow it.

Unless posted by private businesses or companies, you can legally carry into a church, bar, restaurant, shopping center, mall, or supermarket. Opencarry.org’s slogan is “a right not exercised is a right lost.” This is very true. I know there are a lot of arguments against open carry, but I will not be going into those at this time. What I will say is that if we don’t show that responsible citizens can carry weapons openly then the public will continue to be scared and uneasy around someone carrying. The reality of the situation is that people would be safer, not less safe, if responsible people openly carried more. When you’re carrying openly you are the least likely person to be targeted for a crime. And if you’re in public, others around you are less likely to be targeted by a criminal. Criminals are weak and not looking for a fight. They prey on the weak and helpless, and anyone carrying a firearm is showing that their not helpless and ready to defend themselves.

Kentucky Constitution, Bill of Rights, Section I

All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: First: The right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties. Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.

If you plan on exercising your open carry rights, it’s important to be familiar with the law in case you get harassed by law enforcement. Kentucky law enforcement officials are suppose to be aware of the law and the open carry right, but it doesn’t stop people from getting harassed and sometimes jailed temporarily. Know your rights and watch the signs and you will be alright when openly carrying.



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  1. Ken

    …see,i knew i liked Kentucky…

  2. Crustyrusty

    It’s still hard to wrap my mind around this concept, being originally from the People’s Republik of Illinois.

    Y’know, I’ve only seen open carry here a couple times, and I had to look really closely to notice it. The weapons appeared to be smaller 9mm or .380, in nice leather holsters that matched the belt.

  3. matthiasj

    See…it ain’t so bad Ken lol.

    And Crusty, I have seen a few open carry and open carried myself and for the most part people seem to be okay with it. I would say Kentucky is pretty accepting of open carry.

    Rand Paul for US Senate

  4. Bullseye

    Great post man. I open carry all the time and I have educated a few folks on open carry during the process. They ask ” is that a real gun and is it loaded?” I just say “you bet your ass it is, I sure can’t throw it very far”. That leads to the whole open carry law and they are pretty happy to know they can carry in public. I have had many conversations like that and people are always surprised to learn the law. Good stuff buddy, thanks.

    Code Name “Bullseye”

  5. matthiasj

    Great to hear Bullseye…keep it up!

    Rand Paul for US Senate

  6. insidethebunker

    I'm having trouble finding the law that allows for open carry. I read thru some of the Ky State Statues and I find plenty on concelled carry but haven't found anything on open carry. Here is what I found http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/KRS/237-00/CHAPTER.HTM can you direct me to something specific?

  7. Anonymous

    The reason that you cannot find any law pertaining to open carry is because there is none. If KRS is silent on a subject than it is permitted. After all, the purpose of law isn't to give us power to do something, it's to take something away.

    Another note: I believe that it is LEGAL to carry in a bank but I believe it to be ILLEGAL to carry into a bar.

  8. Anonymous

    I carry open alot, but I also have a CCDW Permit. I have yet to be harrassed by police. I'm not saying it won't happen, because it could. If I did get approached about having my weapon visible, I'd simply show my CCDW permit. Also the Kentucky Revised Statute Doesn't say that you have to carry concealed if you have a permit, but it does say you must have a permit to carry concealed

  9. David

    What city do you live in? I can guarantee in Louisville the police will find a reason/way to get you off the street. How do you handle that one?

    1. Dexter

      Bill of Rights, Section I

      All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: First: The right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties. Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.

      The state only prevents you from carrying concealed weapons, unless you have a permit.

  10. Taylor H

    I live in the far west of KY and, sad to say, I've never seen anyone other than LEO's open carry. Still, it's good to know we have that right.

  11. moonpie

    Humm, I always thought that open carry the weapon could not be loaded, which I thought was very stupid. It would be about like throwing you pistol at them. You positive you can open carry a loaded one?

  12. matthiasj

    Anon 7/26/09 11:15 PM – You're exactly right. There is no law that prohibits open carry so it is permitted. Also, it is NOT legal to carry into a bank. Check the sign on the front of your bank. Bars are legal, unless posted.

    I am positive you can carry a loaded pistol in a secure holster. Police are "suppose" to be trained on Open Carry. If not you can direct them to the Kentucky Constitution. If they press the issue comply with them. No charges will be pressed and you will probably get a formal apology from the chief of police.

  13. Anonymous

    so i got messed with today at dicks in lexington and asked to leave the store for oc-ing my .40 taurus but what if when you challenge the cops about how if krs dont mention it means you can do it.. and they say if it dont mention it then you cant do it.. cause your going to run into those god badge wearing police officers who like to make up there own laws.. what then? there needs to be a statute stating we are allowed specifically to open carry so people can shut there mouth.. also dicks did not have a sign out front saying anything about weapons.. the manager said it should be common knowledge not to bring it in the store.. this was right next to the fayette mall if your wondering..

  14. Toni

    That sucks about Dick's in Lexington (hence the name lol). But, businesses do have the right to ask someone not to OC in their store among other things. I live in Louisville and I OC'd for the first time the other night at the strip mall on Bardstown Road and Hikes Lane. I went to the Chinese restaurant there with no problems. I then went over to Thorton's gas station where I pumped and paid outside with no issues. I'm planning on taking the Concealed Weapons course soon so I can OC with a jacket on (it's getting cold)and not break the law.

  15. langzaiguy

    It is NOT illegal to carry in a bank. It IS illegal to carry in a bar. Get your facts straight.

  16. langzaiguy

    The law, thankfully, only tells us what we cannot do, not what we CAN do. If challenged by an officer, you need to ask him to cite the KRS that says you cannot open carry–obviously there isn't one. You should have told the manager that it should be common knowledge that a person has a right to carry a gun–he of all people should know that considering that they sell them :)

  17. james

    if you have a ccdw you can Not carry in the open in KY no part of the fire arm can be seen.. If you dont have a ccdw then you can only carry in the open

    1. Aeroflame

      That makes no sense at all, the constitution protects your right to carry openly. Your right to carry openly can not be taken away just because you got a concealed carry permit.

    2. Rick

      That is not trur I just took the ccdw course and I asked that exact question.

  18. james

    I open carry in Louisville if someone complains they can arrest you for disorderly conduct but its not illegal to open carry

  19. james

    yes it can be loaded in KY ksp to get more details

  20. Ted

    I am a ccdw instructor and it is illegal to carry a weapon in a bar or resturant that make more than 50% of their revenue from alcohol.

    1. Aeroflame

      I think you can if the firearm is unloaded. I think?

      1. KLeidy

        Unloaded and open carry only

    2. bobby

      If i am reading correctly, you are a ccw instructor. Where are you located if you dont mind telling me. I may be moving back to kentucky around the nolin lake area soon and if that is your neck of the woods i would like to meet you and get more info.



  21. United Dental Center

    Just came and read, this is wow! I was seek from many blogs, but here is the best, I love it.

  22. billy bob

    I wanted to point out that the glove box they speak of in your car is the one in the dash. The console compartment is off limits because that is considered a concealed carry. There was a judge that made that ruling against a gentleman a few years ago

  23. Serpent Lord

    Carrying in a vehicle is permissible if the weapon is in plain view or in a compartment that is OEM.

  24. billy bob

    Kentucky supreme court ruled it has to be the glove box or plain sight

    “A glove compartment is a small storage cabinet in the dashboard of an automobile,” Justice Donald C. Wintersheimer

    Source: http://www.wave3.com/Global/story.asp?S=5441774&nav=0RZF

    1. vinnie

      It is perfectly legal to carry a loaded firearm in a factory installed console, seat pocket,
      glove compartment….KRS 527.020 section 8. Read it carefully guys…

  25. trapdoor

    All I have to say is that as for a person who wants to open carry , I appreciate all of “YOU” that do.”WE” as a whole and are able should open carry it is our “RIGHT” and should exercise it every day. I believe there would be less BS crime if WE did. Punk thud coward criminals will always carry some sort of weopon, arming yourselves at all times makes these idiots think again iand if not they may end up with all the time in the world from a hospital or in the next world to think on it..People/tyrants who claim otherwise tend to be nothing more than subjects to these thuds or living in a” F E M A ” atmosphere housing community.I like many otherlaw abiding people tend to my own afairs, but do not want to be tampered with especially ones that hide behind and use the law to do their anti -american agenda.Northern states tend to have quite an unlimited supply of those discusting tyrants. GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU THAT CARRY IRON OF FREEDOM!


    So as long as I have it in plain site I can walk around my yard ? Just moved from IA

  27. CMiller

    I got my CCDWunder a year ago and all laws that ive read …. Krs, say that anyone can have a loaded firearm in ANY factory made compartment… Instructors and KSP both have said this even includes door panel and seat pouches, which I would not (w/o ccdw) have in door panel because I know how some cops can act wen they dont know the laws their supposed to protect…. And to who ever said that someone with a CCDW not being abble to open carry- that is absolutely not true…..

  28. Dexter

    opencarry.org will answer some questions

  29. Joseph

    Ok guys here it is…YOU CAN CARRY YOUR HANDGUN IN THE CENTER CONSOLE!! As long as it is original equipment to that vehicle!! If you don’t know, do NOT post on here like you do. Go to the Kentucky State Police website it is plain as day folks. It says if your weapon is under the seat or “stashed” away that is concealing the firearm. PERIOD! It also states that BANKS ARE OFF LIMITS, bars and government buildings that post no weapons past this point should be avoided also. Don’t be an idiot with your weapon and you probably won’t get messed with, it’s really that simple. If a business owner says, “take your firearm outside” DO SO! You can refuse to do business there, but the owner absolutely 100% of the time can tell you he does not want guns in his place of business. If you are CCDW permit holder or NOT! Just read the laws, not blogs folks. Knowledge is power!!

  30. kblam

    Dicks is a part of Fayette mall. Fayette mall does not allow firearms. Note the sign on the mall entrances. Dicks is on Fayette malls property, thus making dicks subject to the owners wishes of no firearms. You are allowed to OC but you must respect the property owners wishes otherwise you will be asked to leave, put your firearm away, or they might call cops.”

  31. Randy

    As per Billy Bob’s Post, I believe the law has been changed. If you read the decision, the Supreme Court said if the legislature intended the law to include center consoles, the law had to be amended. The Court can not amend only translate. I believer this decision was handed down in 2006.

    The following is printed directly from the current statutes KRS 527.020

    A loaded or unloaded firearm or other deadly weapon shall not be deemed concealed on or about the person if it is located in any enclosed container, compartment, or storage space installed as original equipment in a motor vehicle by its manufacturer, including but not limited to a glove compartment, center console, or seat pocket, regardless of whether said enclosed container, storage space, or compartment is locked, unlocked, or does not have a locking mechanism. No person or organization, public or private, shall prohibit a person from keeping a loaded or unloaded firearm or ammunition, or both, or other deadly weapon in a vehicle in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. Any attempt by a person or organization, public or private, to violate the provisions of this subsection may be the subject of an action for appropriate relief or for damages in a Circuit Court or District Court of competent jurisdiction. This subsection shall not apply to any person prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to KRS 527.040

    I found no indication of a law which prevents open carry in a bank or a bar. I personally have carried in a several
    banks without incident. However there was no sign which says NO FIREARMS ALLOWED I do however live in a small
    rural community where open carry is quit common.

  32. David

    I had a Dayton, Kentucky “new” police officer the other tell me that if he sees me open carrying, he’s going to take my firearm for “Scaring the public” I open carry every day and have yet to be harassed. Guess I’ll have a lawsuit if he searches and seizes anything from me.

  33. mike Gnau

    I’m waiting for my CCDW to be sent from KSP. 3 weeks now. Can some instructor tell me :
    Can I open carry (loaded) in KY ?

    When police inspect your open carry gun, what exactly are they looking for ?

  34. Zach

    Several new laws came into effect July 2012. You can carry a loaded gun on your side in a vehicle or in ANY factory compartment (glovebox, center console, seat pocket, door pocket, etc) without a permit and be 100% legal. You can also ccw at your place of work, on your property, or on close families property as long as you have permission and you can’t get in trouble.

    And whoever said you can only carry concealed if you have a ccw, you are a complete idiot and need to do actual research instead of listening to hearsay. The information is out there!

  35. jj

    I am a resident of KY and must ask clarificaation on one aspect of “open Carrt” in KY. Many believe thatyou can open carry in court rooms wheich are usually located in our court houses or justice centers BUT there are signs that read NO WEAPNS BEYOND THIS POINT and metel detecters at the doors as well as attendents who will not allow you to openly carry in court houses/justice centers. They will and do even stop you from carrying mulyi-tools on your side so why is Openycarry.org reporting that we have the right to open carry in court rooms?

    Please clarify this?

  36. Marine1967

    So a center console is out??? I am from New (Jersey) Germany, where gun ownership is tightly restricted, nevermind carry of any kind. Just moved here and thrilled with OC. I do feel conspicuous while OC, but wil continue to carry.
    Is there anywhere that spells out any and all gun do’s and don’ts?

  37. steve

    i see many errors both in their article as well in the comment section. it is in fact LEGAL to open carry in your car not just in the glove compartment but in ANY factory installed compartement including center console, seat pocket, door pocket as well as under the seat IF there is a factory installed underseat compartment such as in a minivan or truck. also the fellow above claiming to be a ccdw instructor stating that carry in a bar is illegal is wrong, its just that the gun cannot be loaded…you can have the gun on your hip (empty chamber) or whatever and the mag inyour back pocket and you are legal
    also a guy said he couldnt find a statute on open carry, thats because there arent any, hence-legal to open carry, and the article did get that right at least, it is in the state constitution, look it up…this was my first and last trip to this site, it seems there is ALOT of misinformation on here…in july of 2012 ky made hundreds of changes to the firearms law, read up guys, its the 21st century, everything you want to know is online and public domain

  38. Dan

    I open carry everywhere I possibly can… often people at thorntons or some such establishment put up a fuss, but for the most, people and LEO seem to be grateful that such people exist in today’s world. However, the biggest concern I think most people and LEO’s in any major city are concerned about is your tactical awareness level. That being said its never a bad idea to repeat and remention that you are carrying a tool crafted for the sole purpose of destroying life, andjust because its in your holster on your belt, doesn’t mean it is safe from any crooked mind who would attempt to releive you of your weapon and use it for hateful and destructive purposes. Being said, I think most of us probably live our lives in a “code yellow” state anyway, but stay out of the white zone if you’re in possession of a life destroying tool, and most police will leave you be. Stay sharp and vigilant xD great post…..

    I’ve not personally been able to find any USC or KRS statute stating anything about possessing a firearm in a bank… if anyone has a reference please post it, or I’ll just keep my eye out for the sign. Not carrying in a bank is about the dumbest thing that any bank would enforce. Criminals won’t enter a bank unarmed expecting to rob the place, after all.

  39. Brennan.

    I turned 18 on 21 nov. 2012, I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll go ahead and give some background info so you understand I’m not just some kid who wants to know if they can open carry a pistol. My father has had me shooting firearms since I was roughly 4 or 5 years old. Over the years I have grown more interest and my father has given me every opportunity to learn not only about guns themselves but also about safety with firearms and to respect firearms. Apon entering high school I decided to join the Marine Corps JROTC program, as I wanted to become a scout sniper in the marine corps. 4 years have passed and I am now the captain of the rifle team as well as the Executive Officer in the program, I have also enlisted in the Marine Corps. I leave for recruit training on 10 June 2013, pending graduation of highschool. I typically have a high and tight and a fresh shave, I walk around proudly with my shoulders pressed back, and my chin held high. When I’m out in public I don’t screw around, I act properly, the way I was raised.
    I wanted to give you background info that way you hopefully understand that I’m not just another kid that wants to tote a gun around because it “looks cool.”
    Now to my question, I have been hearing rumors that citizens over the age of 18 are allowed to open carry a pistol as long as they have a concealed deadly weapons permit. Is this true? If so is there any documentation or legislature that I can refer to stating that it is true?
    I am simply a young citizen who would like to exercise his 2nd amendment right. Thankyou very much, ahead of time, for any response given.

    1. kent

      check Kentucky Gun laws…under 527.100 it states minimum age for open carry is 18.

    2. Jacob Barrett

      Kent is absolutly correct! You may not purchase a Pistol under the age of 21, but you may open carry at age 18. In order to obtain a CCDW permit in kentucky you must be 21. The Gov. just signed into law a new addition to the code, stating that there is an exception to concealing without a CCDW in your dwelling(can also be considered your yard), your place of buisness if it is real property owned by you, anywhere where you are a tenant that is not federal property or otherwise preemted, and in relatives property. Also there are no laws preventing the carrying into a bank, and If you have a CCDW you can carry either openly or concealed. Also carrying into a place that serves alchohol is dependant on its main sales, I.E. if it is applebees and you are not at the bar it is ok.

  40. Dennis

    If you are 18 you can open carry no ccdw needed or any other permit either.

  41. Obeast

    You can open carry ANY firearm as long as you can legally own it and are 18+ years of age.

    1. Jacob Barrett

      The correct terminology here is “legally possess” this is clearly outlined in the KRS codes involving the possession of deadly weapons by youths. All criminal charges in possessing a weapon in kentucky are one of four things, possession by a youth (under 18), concealing, or possession on federal property such as a school/post office, and possession by a felon.

  42. Marty

    Guys I copied this straight from the Kentucky State Police Website.

    There are no Kentucky Revised Statutes that govern the open carry of firearms by persons who lawfully possess such firearms except for the following:

    KRS 527.070 – Unlawful possession (whether carried openly or concealed) of a weapon on school property, except for certain specified exceptions.
    KRS 244.125 – Which bars loaded firearms (concealed or otherwise) in places where alcohol is sold by the drink, except for certain specified exceptions.
    If you have any questions on the open carry of firearms in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, including whether a particular mode of carrying a firearm would be deemed open or concealed carry, you may wish to consult an attorney.

  43. Col. J

    Folks in Louisville you will be arrested for disturbing the peace or inciting a riot and your firearm confiscated 6 months if you argue with a metro policeman since Newtown they are under orders from chief white to stop open carry. You may NOT CARRY OPEN INTO A BANK NOR A BAR any establishment which makes its chief income from the sale of alcohol shall be free of all firearms weather loaded or not, excluded from this law is the owner/ agents appointee’s of said establishment also Federal law takes over on several other places including CHURCHES you may not carry without written permission from the church, federal buildings courthouses, police and sherriffs offices, municipal buildings, and political offices.

  44. Col. J

    Guys I want to stress since Newtown Governor Beshear has been bombarded by bloombergs group mayors against guns. This has led to a tightening of the laws concerning open carry. In louisville, if you open carry someone will call the police, 80% of Kentucky’s liberals live in the east end of louisville believe me they will call, metro louisville will send three cruisers 6 officers they will call you names, I am disabled with a wheelchair on a lift on the back of my car, I have had weapons pointed at my head and told to get on the ground I have replied with Zi have a spinal cord injury that prevents me from getting prone, I was the told to “Throw” my weapon onto the ground and kick it over to the police which I refused as it is a brand new Kimber. At that point an attorney at the thornton’s getting gas got involved and said he was my attorney and what was the problem ( he even ordered them to holster their weapons or face a billion dollar suit) he recorded there badge numbers and names asked what I had done wrong and they said I was breaking the law by openly carrying a firearm in Metro Louisville, the Attorney laughed and asked how long the officer had been a retard, I almost shit my pants, the officer then threatened to arrest the attorney he said for what, and they said for inciting a riot, he held out his hands and said cuff me I dare you then demanded the supervisor to the scene, when the super got there guns were holstered I was apologized to as was the attorney ( who is now my attorney) however he said in metro louisville the liberals call the police all the time and we have to respond and do something, the Attorney said you dont get to harass the legally carrying citizens, you need to educate the idiots that call you!

  45. Wormy

    Hey all love this blog as well I been reading for a while now just wanted to say I have been open carrying for about a year now ever since my wife and kids were almost robbed pulling into my driveway. And they were fired at as they sped away. I bought a smith .40 and I carry it everyday no matter what. I was also a deputy constable in my county for 3 years. Yes law enforcement is instructed on open carry. Although some of you are right there are always gonna be those cops or deputies that have an attitude they and only they know the law. So learn it and be ready with it. Yes the krs states that any OEM compartment or seat pocket is legal but it’s not trust me. If you put in in the consol and get pulled over without a ccdw you will see jail time. I promise you that!!! Bt please all of you who can open carry as much as you can I promise you it deters crime more than you think!!!!!!!!!

  46. ED BO

    Can I open carry with my shirt tucked in using an IWB hybrid holster, top of 1911 exposed???

  47. Liberty4Ever

    This article is now outdated. It should be corrected or removed.

    It is now legal to carry a firearm in any factory installed container in a vehicle without having a concealed carry permit. This includes center consoles, under seat storage boxes, door pockets, etc. The law previously stated that only glove boxes could be used, but that law has been expanded since this article was written. I believe we passed that in the 2010 General Assembly. It’d be an easy search to confirm this fact.

  48. Chris-N-Louisville

    HELLO ALL…… i am 40 years old and wanna open carry but do to when i was 19 years old my mother took out a mental inquest warrant out on me do to depression over a death in the family.. will this stop me from owning a fire arm???? also i was told 7 years is the limit for that research but then i was told there was a KRS law keeping me from owning a fire arm…. mind you i have NO FELONIES

  49. Cody

    Ed Bo I saw your comment and no you are not permitted to carry in that manner mainly because concealed carry states that any part of the firearm that is not shown is considered concealed. I am 19 I open carry a s&w sigma 9mm. It is perfectly legal for a person 18 years or older to open carry a handgun. This is the best state for gun owners specially if your 18 because per state law krs 527.100 you are legal and any LEO who says your not is completely wrong this was told to me by a lawyer. If they try to seize or take the firearm f your person without your permission they are violating the law and your rights. If they have a problem get into contact with a supervisor and a lawyer and things will get cleared specially if you tell the specific statue that says your operating within the law which again is krs 527.100 and remember if your 18 you are golden for open carrying a firearm.

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