Legal Issues

Legal Tips: ‘Printing’ and Failure to Conceal

A membership in Texas Law Shield is like insurance against the worst that could happen.

U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield members asked the program attorneys questions about “failure to conceal”: Q: Is seeing a bulge under your shirt failure to conceal? — rb5531 Law Shield responded: No, a bulge showing from under your shirt would not be considered failure to conceal. Concealment is keeping the handgun or any part of the gun from becoming actually visible. Seeing an outline, “printing,” or anything else is not considered failure to conceal.

Q: Is “printing” illegal in any states (Florida)? Depending on my pants, I will wear a pocket holster, put that holster in my front-left pants pocket but put something (ex. cell phone) in front of the gun so there would not be any printing. — shorthairptr  Law Shield responded: Keep in mind that this answer only applies to Florida. We have researched this issue and have not been able to find any case law that addresses the issue of printing. We do not believe it is illegal for printing to occur. All of the case law we are aware of involves a physical portion of the firearm actually being visible. As a practical matter, if printing is occurring, probably the best thing a person can do is to work on his or her concealing technique to avoid any potential negative consequences.

After doing additional research, we found a case that says that a completely revealed firearm is not concealed. The case also says that to be concealed, the firearm need not be completely concealed. Hope that makes it clearer.

Ask your questions in the comment section or contact U.S. Law Shield or Texas Law Shield lawyers.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (18)

  1. ALL concealed weapons laws contradict our Constitution..therefore they are illegal, void and un-enforceable….we have the RIGHT to carry, period…how we carry or what we carry is of our own choosing and is none of anyone else’s business…we DO NOT have to pay ANYONE or ask ANYONE for permission to exercise our RIGHT to own or carry what we want, when we want, where we want…PERIOD, END OF STORY…

  2. The debate centered on whether or not “printing” is equal to “intentional display.” “Printing,” as it has been well said, is not defined by legal code, but “concealed handgun” is specifically defined.

  3. I just ended a lengthy debate with someone who is apparently a TLS client regarding this matter of “printing” in the light of current (post SB299, 01SEP2013) legislature. To frame my comment in context, I am a CHL instructor in Texas, having been certified for just over a year. By no means do I ever try to “interpret” the law — that is the job of the courts — but I can read and teach my students the same.

    Texas Penal Code Sec. 46.035. UNLAWFUL CARRYING OF HANDGUN BY LICENSE HOLDER. (a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder carries a handgun on or about the license holder’s person under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person in a public place.

    Texas Government Code §411.171, Subchapter H.. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter: (3) “Concealed handgun” means a handgun, the presence of which is not openly discernible to the ordinary observation of a reasonable person.

    The debate centered on whether or not “printing” is equal to “intentional display.” “Printing,” as it has been well said, is not defined by legal code, but “concealed handgun” is specifically defined. It would stand to reason then that a prudent, licensed CHL holder would be careful not to “print” as this could present an opportunity for “the ordinary observation of a reasonable person” of one’s handgun. In my professional opinion, a “bulge” that is not generally discernable as being one caused by a firearm would be okay. At the end of the day, however, it would be an expensive and time-consuming test to prove out in court, so err to the side of caution.

  4. In the Florida Statues, section 790.053, it does say that accidental exposure is ok, as long as it is not done threateningly. Does not mention anything about printing though.

    “It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.”

  5. As the lawyers like to say, it’s not black or white but grey. How obvious is the bulge? Are you in a place where it would be illegal (courthouse, etc.)? Are you being belligerent and “hinting” to someone that you are “not to be f***ed with”? Are you quietly minding your own business, but self-consciously worried that people are looking at you? People pick up on your “energy”, and personally it took many years of carrying before I stopped being self-conscious and thus broadcasting that there was something different about me from every one else. Once you blend in people pay very little attention to you unless you do something to draw that attention. Face it, like the bumper sticker says “no one cares” (until you make them care).

  6. Anti gunners can really cause us trouble by spuriously accusing of exposing our firearm(s) in a threatening manner. A call to the cops and the statement “I saw something that looked like a gun, I want him arrested and disarmed.” All it takes is for the anti-gunners to make the accusation because the media has published their lists of “armed citizens” so many accusations will yield a firearm even if it does NOT ‘print’ in front of the officer, it is there and you’re taking a nice ride with a professional driver. Your hands will be secured behind you while your weapon rides up front with the nice officer. You could be processed ‘booked’ and held for trial or allowed out if you post bail. This is all an expensive hassle and could lose you the right to carry.

    The opposition is willing to lie and make false accusations if it will help them achieve their goals. Does anyone expect anything else from them if this ‘printing’ issue becomes established law and is well reported in the media? I hope that this scenario is NOT possible and could NEVER produce the results I offered in jest. I hope…

  7. I believe the concealed carry laws passed last year in Texas specifically addressed this question. There has to be an intent to display before the law is violated. Incidental reveal (perhaps meaning printing) would not be actionable.
    Could be wrong but that’s my understanding.

  8. Texas is known as a gun friendly state but open carry is illegal and so is printing while concealed carry. I’m wondering how friendly it really is.

  9. The way the Texas CHL law is written it says that if a concealed gun is noticeable through clothing (printing) then it is not concealed.

    1. Perhaps some case law helps us refer to certain aspects or individual and actual incidences, but I’m pretty sure that over years and years that there are many, many old, compounded and obsolete laws that need to be repealed or taken off the books.

  10. Good point Steve, I agree with you. As a retired police officer I can only say, good luck with that as your setting in a cell awaiting trial. It’s a shame we have drifted so far away.

  11. all concealed weapons laws ARE illegal..our constitution guarantees our RIGHT to keep and BEAR ARMS…this means to HAVE and CARRY….ANY laws that attempt to control or regulate this are ILLEGAL and are therefore VOID and UN-ENFORCEABLE…IT IS OUR RIGHT…

  12. In a CTD article by Suzanne written on May 12, 2012, she writes about first time carry. In her article she states it is illegal in Texas to print. Come on CTD, get your act together.

  13. Would the bottom of a enclosed holster be exposed from under a garment such as a over the belt shirt when sitting or entering or exiting a vehicle while no actual part of the gun is shown be considered “printing” in particular the state of Arizona.

    1. IMHO, the bottom portion of a closed holster can peek out without any problem. I base this on holsters like the Sneaky Pete and others that mimic cellphone holsters, first aid kits, etc. There may be a gun in there, but it is concealed.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.