Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: When Do You Have To Obey “No Guns” Signs?

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Sam Hoober,

Unfortunately, not everyone believes that people should be allowed to carry nor wants anyone that’s armed to be near them, which is why a lot of businesses have “no guns” signs. However, some wonder if they actually have to abide by them.

When, then, does one have to obey no guns allowed, no concealed carry, or no open carry signage? What kind of legal force does such a sign have?

Granted, this is not legal advice, and shouldn’t be taken that way at all. If you knowingly or unknowingly violate the laws of the city and state you are in, that’s your fault for breaking the law because you think it shouldn’t apply to you or because you couldn’t be bothered to find out what it was.

Also, it depends on what a person has in mind when it comes to signs forbidding the open or concealed carry of firearms or other weapons. Some areas, buildings and otherwise, prohibit carrying of weapons – concealed or otherwise – for anyone other than law enforcement. These would be the “gun free zones” that are supposed to be keeping people so very safe. (As we know, they aren’t.)

Some are mandated by federal legislation – such as primary and secondary schools, federal buildings, post offices and so on – and some are mandated by state legislation. For instance, almost all states forbid carrying in prisons and other detention facilities, among other examples.

What most people are concerned about is signage at private businesses, homes and other non-governmental establishments.

Unfortunately, it depends completely on where you are. Some states give such signage more weight than others. Some don’t give such signage any weight. In some states, signage only has weight if the sign has specific language and formatting.

That said, many of the states where signage does carry the force of law have specific guidelines about what the signs have to say. Texas is the most well-known example; state code in that state outlines exactly what the sign has to look like and say in order to be enforceable.

Those are the 30.06 (prohibiting concealed carry) and 30.07 (prohibits open carry) signs that we keep hearing about.

Ohio no guns signs aren’t as tightly regulated – the sign merely has to be visible and say the following:

“Unless otherwise authorized by law, pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code, no person shall knowingly possess, have under his control, convey, or attempt to convey a deadly handgun or dangerous ordnance onto these premises.”

Though the wording might give one the impression that a licensed carrier is exempt, that is not the case – only law enforcement can carry on premises with legal signage in Ohio. Businesses can get a template from the state Attorney General’s website.

Likewise, the Carolinas, Illinois, Wisconsin and a few other states allow signage to carry the force of law, but only if said signage conforms to state regulations, just like the above mentioned examples.

Alaska, on the other hand, gives signage forbidding carrying on the premises the force of law and doesn’t regulate the nature of said signage. The sign could have “no shirt no shoes” crossed out and “no guns” written in crayon.

Also, just because the state you reside in or are traveling in doesn’t give “no guns” signage the force of law doesn’t mean you can ignore the sign.

Seems ridiculous, right? If the sign has no legal weight, why should a person obey it?

Simple – even if a sign itself has no legal weight, a person carrying may not be/is not welcome on the premises, and a person that is somewhere they aren’t welcome is trespassing. Depending on the laws of one’s state of residence or the state they are visiting, a misdemeanor conviction for trespassing may result in suspension, revocation or otherwise of their concealed carry license.

You can say “the Second is MY permit!” all you like, and there is certainly something to be said for that idea. However, carrying without a license in a state that requires one is a crime, and that line isn’t going to convince a judge.

While not every state gives signage the force of law, virtually every state DOES allow a private business, homeowner and otherwise to forbid firearms on the premises in their capacity as a  private business or homeowner. Therefore, if you are found to be carrying and asked to leave, you have to – or you may be liable for criminal charges.

Make sure you research the laws of your state and any state that you intend on traveling to. Compliance with the law is your responsibility.

“Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden-based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit”.