If you’re interested in carrying a concealed weapon, you’ve likely come across the terms Shall Trouble and May Problem.
These terms relate to how the issuing authority in your state actually issues concealed carry permits or licenses.
In most cases, your state will have legislation that lays out how the issuing authority decides to give you a permit or license. Will you get a license as long as you comply with basic requirements, such as age and training? Or will the issuing authority have greater discretion when it comes to issuing a permit, requiring you to have a ‘good reason’ to carry concealed?
Shall Issue means that the issuing authority will grant you a concealed carry permit or license as long as you meet minimum requirements. The legislation usually states that the authority “shall issue” a permit to anyone who meets requirements X, Y, and Z.
Basically, if you are old enough, have not been to prison or charged with certain things, and are mentally stable, you will likely not be rejected when you apply for your permit. Of course there are other requirements such as training and concealed carry class completion, but each state is different, so be sure to know the laws.
May Issue means that the issuing authority has discretion when it comes to giving out permits. Just because you meet minimum requirements, doesn’t mean that they are obligated to approve your application to carry concealed. Legislation in May Issue states usually says that the authority “may issue” a permit to someone who has shown that they meet requirements X, Y, and Z and have shown a ‘good reason’ for wanting to carry concealed.
All states are different, so the ‘good reason’ may vary from state to state. The bottom line is, May Issue can easily mean May Not Issue. You are never guaranteed a permit in a May Issue state, even if you meet all the requirements, have a great reason for wanting to carry, and are an upstanding citizen.
Note that many May Issue states do not consider “self-protection” a good enough reason to issue you a permit. It will be at the discretion of whoever is issuing the permits, such as your local sheriff or the Attorney General of your state. One day may be different than the next when it comes to your chances to obtain your permit.
To break it down very simply, Shall Issue means that if you meet a certain threshold, you’ll get a permit, while May Issue means that the issuing authority has discretion when it comes to giving you a permit.
A few states are Constitutional Carry or Unrestricted. This means that they do not require you to have a permit to carry concealed, and therefore don’t have Shall or May Issue legislation.
A similar deviation occurs in Illinois, where neither Shall Issue nor May Issue exist. However, unlike those states that allow free, lawful carry without a permit, Illinois does not allow any carry, for whatever reason. This means that when it comes to concealed carry, there is no law on the books that tells whether it is a Shall or a May Issue state, because it is a No Issue state.
Generally, it will be easier to obtain a permit in a Shall Issue state. These states are arguably more pro-Second Amendment and do not wish to infringe upon your right to carry a firearm.