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Kentucky Gun Rights

An Overview of Gun Laws in Kentucky


Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

Yes. All men are by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: ... 7) 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.

Concealed Carry

Kentucky is a shall-issue state, meaning officials are required by law to issue a concealed carry permit to qualified applicants. The initial application fee is $60, with application made through local sheriffs’ departments and permits received within 90 days. Applicants must undergo an eight-hour firearms safety course prior to application, and submit to a background check. With the exception of active military personnel stationed in Kentucky, applicants for a carry permit must be a resident of the state for at least six months.

Persons prohibited from obtaining a carry permit in Kentucky include convicted felons or anyone under indictment for a felony, anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, anyone who has two or more DUI convictions within the last three years, anyone who has a drug-related misdemeanor conviction within the last three years, anyone dishonorably discharged from the military, or any other person banned from gun ownership under federal law.

States that honor Kentucky’s carry permits include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Kentucky honors permits from every state except Illinois, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Castle Doctrine

Kentucky’s castle law authorizes the use of physical or deadly force when a person is confronted by a criminal attempting to commit a felony by use of force. The statute authorizes the use of force anywhere the victim has a right to be, inside or outside the home, and allows victims to “stand their ground,” not requiring a duty to retreat. The law does not protect victims from prosecution or civil lawsuit, however.

Pro-Gun Provisions

Kentucky has a workplace protection law that prohibits employers from firing workers who have a gun stored in a vehicle parked at the workplace, as well as a law protecting firing ranges and a preemption law that prohibits county and municipal governments from enacting gun laws more restrictive than state law.

Open carry is permissible in Kentucky. On the other hand, concealed carry is prohibited without a permit, including within a person’s own home. Handguns stored under the driver’s seat of a vehicle are considered “on or about the person,” placing them in the concealed weapons category.


Gun bans: None.

Waiting periods for gun purchases: No.

License or permit to purchase guns: No.

Registration of guns: No.

Places in Kentucky where firearms cannot be carried, with or without a permit, include:

  • Law enforcement facilities
  • Jails
  • Courtrooms
  • Airports
  • Meeting places of any governing board or body
  • Schools
  • Places that serve alcohol (except restaurants)
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