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Kentucky Gun Laws

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION - Article 1, Section 1, Paragraph 7.

“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.”

Gun Laws Overview

Permit to Purchase No No
Registration of Firearms No No
Licensing of Owners No No
Permit to Carry No No

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition.  For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

Kentucky only honors permits or licenses from individuals 21 years of age or older.  

Castle Doctrine Enacted
No-Net Loss Enacted
Right to Carry Confidentiality Provisions Enacted
Right to Carry in Restaurants Partial Ban
Right To Carry Laws No Permit Required
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Outright Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions With Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
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Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

Antiques and Replicas

Kentucky statutes are silent on antique and replica firearms. They are treated as ordinary firearms for possession and carrying purposes.


The open carry of a handgun is lawful except in certain restricted areas.


A permit is not required to carry openly or concealed in Kentucky.

The Department of Kentucky State Police shall issue a license to carry concealed firearms if the applicant:

  • is a citizen of the United States who is a resident of this Commonwealth and has been a resident for 6 months or longer;
  • is a citizen of the United States who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who is on active duty, who is at the time of application assigned to a military posting in Kentucky, and who has been assigned to a posting in the Commonwealth for 6 months or longer immediately preceding the filing of the application;
  • is at least 21 years of age;
  • is not ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to federal or state law;
  • is not a fugitive from justice;
  • is not under indictment for, or have been convicted of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
  • has not been adjudicated an incompetent and has not been involuntarily committed to a mental institution;
  • has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
  • has not been committed to a state or federal facility for the abuse of a controlled substance or been convicted of a misdemeanor relating to controlled substances within 3 years;
  • does not have two or more convictions for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substance which impairs driving ability within 3 years immediately preceding the date on which the application is submitted;
  • does not owe a child support arrearage which equals or exceeds the cumulative amount which would be owed after 1 year of nonpayment;
  • has complied with any subpoena or warrant relating to child support or paternity proceedings;
  • has not been convicted of a violation of Assault in the fourth degree or Terroristic Threatening in the third degree within the three 3 years immediately preceding the date on which the application is submitted; and
  • demonstrates competence with a firearm by successful completion of a firearms safety course offered or approved by the Department of Criminal Justice Training.  The firearms safety course shall:
    • be not more than 8 hours in length;
    • include instruction on handguns, the safe use of handguns, the care and cleaning of handguns and handgun marksmanship principles;
    • 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; and
    • include information on and a copy of laws relating to possession and carrying of firearms and laws relating to the use of force.

The application shall be obtained from and submitted to the office of the sheriff in the county in which the applicant resides. The application fee is $60. The license is valid statewide for 5 years. The applicant shall submit a recent color photograph and a photocopy of a certificate of completion of a course that demonstrates competence with a firearm. The application will be sent to the Kentucky State Police within five working days.

The Department of Kentucky State Police shall, within 90 days, either issue a license or deny the application, in which case the applicant shall be informed in writing of the grounds for denial and his right to submit, within 30 days, documentation relating to the denial. The applicant shall also be informed of the right to seek review of the denial in the District Court of his place of residence. The applicant shall further be informed of their right to seek de novo review of the denial in the District Court of his or her place of residence.

Military Personnel are not provided with an extension but may renew concealed weapons licenses early and by mail.  If military personnel are on active duty when the license expires, they are allowed to renew the license within 90 days after the end of deployment with no late fees or penalties.

The certification and recertification of active and retired peace officers permits any peace officer that has successfully completed a Kentucky Law Enforcement Council approved firearms instructor course to carry firearms. 

A license to carry concealed firearms does not authorize any person to carry a concealed firearm into:

  • any police station or sheriff’s office;
  • any detention facility, prison, or jail;
  • any courthouse, solely occupied by the Court of Justice courtroom, or court proceeding;
  • any meeting of the governing body of a county, municipality, or special district, or any meeting of the General Assembly unless the permit holder is a member of that body;
  • any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises which is primarily devoted to that purpose;
  • any elementary or secondary school facility, child caring facility, day care center;
  • any area of an airport to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons; and
  • any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law.

Right of employees and other persons to possess firearms in a vehicle--No person, including but not limited to an employer, who is the owner, lessee, or occupant of real property shall prohibit any person who is legally entitled to posses a firearm from possessing a firearm, part of a firearm, ammunition, or ammunition component in a vehicle on the property. This does not apply to any real property owned, leased or occupied by the United States government, upon which the possession or carrying of firearms is prohibited or controlled, detention facilities, or where Kentucky Revised Statutes specifically prohibits possession or carrying of firearms on the property.

Kentucky will allow a loaded handgun to be carried in a motor vehicle provided that the firearm is stored in any container, compartment, or storage space originally installed in the motor vehicle by its manufacturer.

Kentucky honors valid licenses and permits issued by other state.

Machine Guns

It is lawful to possess, purchase, or sell a machine gun that is legally registered and possessed in compliance with all federal laws and regulations.


It is unlawful to remove, deface, cover, alter or destroy the manufacturer’s serial number or other mark of identification on any firearm.


It is unlawful to possess a firearm that has been defaced. To avoid prosecution, this offense must be reported to the police immediately.

It is unlawful to shoot any wild animal, protected or unprotected, from an automobile or any vehicle at any time or place. Boats may be used except as prohibited by state or federal regulations.

It is unlawful to shoot across a highway.

No city, county or urban-county government may occupy any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or combination thereof.

No person or entity is liable for damages of any kind resulting from injuries to another person sustained as a result of the criminal use of a firearm by a third person, unless the person or entity conspired with, aided, or caused the third person to commit the criminal act.

The Commonwealth reserves the exclusive authority to bring suit against firearms manufacturers or dealers relating to the lawful manufacture and sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.

During bow-hunting season, any person who is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm may carry a firearm for protection of persons and property or self-defense.  This applies to all lands controlled by the department, public or private, and also on private lands that the owner has not posted a notice prohibiting concealed deadly weapons.


No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.


The regulation of firearms and ammunition is completely reserved to the state legislature.


KY REV. STAT. § 65.870 Local firearms control ordinances prohibited

No city, county or urban-county government may occupy any part of the field of regulation of the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or combination thereof.


No state permit is required to purchase a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.


Residents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky who are citizens of the United States shall have the right to purchase or otherwise acquire rifles, shotguns, handguns, and any other firearms which they are permitted to purchase or otherwise acquire under federal law and the Kentucky Revised Statutes from properly licensed dealers, manufacturers, importers, or collectors, and unlicensed individual person in Kentucky or in any other state or nation outside of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Range Protection

No shooting range shall be or shall become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of the range if the range has been in operation for one (1) year...


KY. REV. STAT. § 237.210 Effect of changed conditions on nuisance actions involving shooting ranges; standing to sue; limitation of liability; prohibition against retroactive application of laws

(1) No shooting range shall be or shall become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of the range if the range has been in operation for one (1) year since the date on which it commenced operation as a shooting range. Subsequent physical expansion of the range or expansion of the types of firearms in use at the range shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for purposes of this section unless the change triples the amount of the noise produced by the shooting range. The increase in the noise level at the shooting range shall be measured by an independent testing agency or a unit of government and shall compare the highest noise levels during any one (1) month during which the range is in full operation with a subsequent month in which the range is in full operation and conducting a comparable level of shooting activities. Only a person who lives adjacent to the shooting range shall have standing to bring an action under this section.

(2) No shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a shooting range for the shooting of firearms shall be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement administrative regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the range on the date on which it commenced operation.

(3) No administrative regulations, statutes, or ordinances relating to noise control, noise pollution, or noise abatement adopted or enacted by a unit of government shall be applied retroactively to prohibit conduct at a shooting range, which conduct was lawful and being engaged in prior to the adoption or enactment of the administrative regulations, statutes, or ordinances.


Sources:  Ky.Rev.Stat §§ 65.045; 237.020 et seq.; 411.155; 527.010 et seq

Kentucky NEWS

Gun Laws  

Friday, May 1, 1992

The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY, 3/7/92

An early-morning burglary attempt proved to be fatal when, instead of loot, the culprit found an armed homeowner. ...

Gun Laws  

Friday, June 1, 1990

The Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY, 3/16/90

Sitting in his Bonnyman, Ky., home, 80-year-old Charles McIntosh heard the burglar alarm sound in his daughter's home ...

Gun Laws  

Sunday, November 1, 1987

The Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY, 7/21/87

Alerted by the sound of his front door being kicked in, Lexington, Ky., resident Bernard McCarthy armed himself. ...

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 1, 1987

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, 3/13/87

An armed intruder kicked down the bedroom door of Sidney Milner's Louisville, Ky., home, pointed a pistol at ...

Gun Laws  

Friday, May 1, 1987

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, 2/24/87

Seventy-year-old Eric Christian stepped onto the porch of his Louisville, Ky., home to check a bird feeder when ...

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 1987

The Times, Louisville, KY, 10/27/86

When two men, identifying themselves as employees of a Louisville, Ky., hotel, knocked on Essel Jones' room door ...

Gun Laws  

Monday, September 1, 1986

The Enquirer, Cincinnati, OH, 5/30/86

A Covington, Ky., resident awoke to find a strange man in his kitchen. The intruder fled, but Gerry ...

Gun Laws  

Tuesday, July 1, 1986

The Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY

Bursting into the Flat Creek, Ky., home, the masked robber pointed a gun at the horrifed family and ...

Gun Laws  

Thursday, May 1, 1986

The Advocate-Messenger, Danville, KY, 2/20/86

Investigating a sound in his Walnut Flat, Ky., country store, Harry Bowling was met with gunfire from a ...

Gun Laws  

Monday, July 1, 1985

The Herald, Harrodsburg, KY, 2/28/85

Mercer Co., Ky., mail carrier Loyd Bradley was lying in bed when a rifle-wielding criminal smashed a window ...


Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.