Concealed Carry

Are You Ready To Conceal Carry?

All states differ in their requirements in issuing a concealed carry permit.

Laws pertaining to the open or concealed carry of a firearm vary by state and change frequently. Please check with your local law enforcement on your state and city’s current carry laws.

The number of first-time gun owners has steadily increased over the last year. Over half of all gun owners report the primary reason for owning a gun is for self-defense. The majority of gun owners believe their right to defend themselves extends beyond their home. If you are considering joining the eight million Americans who hold concealed carry permits, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before proceeding.

Federal law recognizes our right to defend ourselves with a gun; however, at the state level carrying a gun is a privilege. In regards to whom and how one can carry, the states are may-issue, shall-issue, no-issue, or states that do not require a permit at all to carry.

  • A may-issue state issues permits on a discretionary basis.
  • A shall-issue state will issue you a permit if you meet the requirements.
  • A no-issue state does not allow anyone to carry a gun.
  • Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Vermont, Wyoming, and Mississippi—if the gun is carried in a bag or purse—do not require a permit for legal citizens to carry a gun.

All states differ in their requirements and fees when issuing a concealed carry permit. For example, Texas requires a 10-hour class before allowing you to get a carry license, while Washington does not. USACarry.com is an excellent resource by state listing all requirements.

Further, each state differs in the laws regarding how, where and when you may carry. The required class in Texas goes over these laws. In states that do not require a class, you need to familiarize yourself and know your state’s specific laws. The NRA-ILA has a website detailing each state’s gun laws.

Becoming a concealed carry permit-holder is a great responsibility and often requires a lifestyle change. I say this because there is no point in getting a permit if you are not going to carry. There is a plethora of information on what gun to purchase for concealed carry to what type of holster to buy. These decisions will help you pick the right gun and the right holster so you are comfortable enough to carry every day.

On that note, you must ask yourself:

Am I Going to Carry My Self-Defense Gun Every Day?

Unfortunately, the potential for a life and death situation to occur is possible anywhere you go. You are not prepared to protect yourself and innocent others if you do not carry.

Am I Ready to Take Another Human Life?

I have read that it is not our instinct to kill another human. When the time comes, will you be able to pull the trigger to save your life or the life of another? Settle your spiritual conflictions first before getting a concealed carry license.

If you frequent places that do not allow firearms, you will need to reconsider where you hang out.
If you frequent places that do not allow firearms, you will need to reconsider where you hang out.

Am I Willing to Change My Lifestyle?

When you conceal carry, it is highly possible you will have to change your wardrobe. Concealed means concealed. It is illegal in many states to brandish your firearm. Many people wear a cover garment to make sure their gun never shows. Next, there are places where it is illegal to carry. The majority of states do not let you carry into a bar. If you frequent places that do not allow firearms, you will need to reconsider where you hang out.

Am I Competent Shooting My Gun?

You should be a proficient shot and confident in your abilities to hit your target. Can you draw from a holster safely, quickly and effectively? Do you know how to clear malfunctions quickly? You should know your gun inside and out. Knowing how to shoot and grip your gun well requires practice and training. Taking the time and dedication to take classes, range trips and dry firing at home keeps your skill level up to par. If you do not enjoy shooting, or never practice shooting, you may possibly may end up dead because you could not work your gun.

Am I Hot-Headed?

Part of the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon is to diffuse a potential dangerous situation. This means you avoid or leave situations that could escalate into a fight or confrontation. You must remain even-tempered and calm. If you are the type of person who sees red quickly, you probably need to work on your anger before getting a concealed carry permit.

Choosing to carry a gun for self-defense is a noble and honorable responsibility. Don’t let my recommendations frighten you. Millions of people carry every day—safely—and never have to use their gun. I just want you to be as prepared as possible if you ever have to.

Are you considering getting a concealed carry permit? If so, what are your reservations? Share them with us in the comment section.

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 (37)

  1. KEEP IN MIND, the Dictionary used in the Writing of the US Constitution. Was an Old English Oxford Dictionary Published in 1690. And the Bill of Rights, Printed in the Colonies in 1757 also OLD ENGLISH. You can’t use a 20t of 21st century Dictionary to translate 17th Century Text. You’d be Speaking “Gibberish”. Example, ITALIAN is “PIG LATIN” for LATIN. IT’S “Gutter Speak” for Latin…

  2. While California is classified as May Issue – most of the major metro areas have a no issue policy (or we are still waiting for clarification)

  3. Just a small comment on states and CCW. The statement was made that 2 states does not allow CCW, Illinois and Washington, DC.
    As a point if correction it should say something like one state plus the District of Columbia.

    1. @ Darrell.

      Conceal Carry in WDC, applies ONLY to those that can Provide Proof that Concealed Carry is Required. You have to Submit an Application to Conceal Carry, If you CAN’T Prove and/or Provide a Clear Need to Conceal Carry. A Committee will Deny Your Application…

  4. I am retired from law enforcement. I believe that every one has a right to carry a firearm (with the exception of convicted felons). With that right comes a great responsibility to know how to use that weapon and when to use it. Every retired officer in the State of Washington who wish to carry concealed must qualify with each weapon they wish to carry every year. This keeps our skills honed and it is great to get together with all of the old guys again.

  5. In the great state of Kansas, carrying a firearm open in public, is normal, but you have tho ave a permit to carry concealed. As of July 1st, 2015, you can carry concealed without a permit. I love it when our politicians stand up for our rights.

  6. in response to:’Pete in Alaska’
    I read your blog 3 times, and obviously you are well spoken. But you really REALLY need to get away from that word ‘PRIVILEGE’ Have you actually read the 2nd amendment? I don’t intend to insult you but what part of “THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR” do you NOT understand ?
    Just to clarify things…
    There is NOTHING in the 2nd that says we can exercise that right, but only in our home.
    There is NOTHING in the 2nd that says we can exercise that right if the state we live in lets us.
    There is NOTHING in the 2nd that says we can exercise that right if buy a permit to carry concealed
    There is NOTHING in the 2nd that says we can exercise that right if carry open

    I am NOT a lawyer, and certainly NOT an expert on the English language.. But come on all those lefties out there.. the words a VERY simple: The ‘RIGHT’ to keep and bear arms shall NOT be infringed…
    It’s a RIGHT…
    NOT a privilege….
    And as with all right comes the personal responsibility or doing it correctly and not abusing it.

    We could save a lot of time and effort and All this controversy and legal maneuvering if the left just proceeded in a straight forth manner.. Use the means that our founding fathers provided and start the process to have the 2nd repealed. I can be done, History shows us that when the prohibition amendment was repealed. The PEOPLE of our country realized that that amendment was NOT in keeping with what our society preferred and they dumped it. So, you you lefties are so hyped up and doing things legally, start a movement to repeal the 2nd. If successful, than only the outlaws will have guns (they don’t give a hoot what the law says anyway). If your repeal attempt fails, it will only serve to serve to (hopefully) silence all this unnecessary BS (legal and otherwise) and we Americans can get on with making our livings, providing for the health, welfare, and PROTECTION of ourselves and our families.

    1. We have many “rights”, but big government and bullies with a badge, even though they are just doing their job, have done much to curtail those rights. Case in point, any traveler following the interstate could wind up with felony charges and a ruined life for merely driving through Illinois, Maryland, DC and other states while lawfully carrying a firearm, EVEN THOUGH THE FEDERAL LAW SAYS THEY CAN DO SO. Maryland, for instance, may issue a few carry permits to friends of select polititians, but woe to the carrying driver who crosses from Virginia through Maryland to Pennsylvania even though those bordering states both allow licensed concealed carry.

    2. Guy
      I agree with the premise of your statement with one criticism. There is truly no need to just point out “lefties”. This could have had an even better impact had you just addressed ALL American citizens. Make it a non biased vs a biased opinion.
      I am a leftie and stand one hundred percent behind our 2nd Amendment Rights. My rights aren’t left, right or other. It is My right as an Anerican Citizen to posses and carry a weapon.

  7. In NH, a person may carry openly without a permit. However, if the day grew cold and you put on a jacket that covered your pistol, then it is concealed and for that, NH requires a permit. The good news is that NH is also a shall-issue state and within two weeks after filing an application along with three references and with a clean record, you will have yourself a concealed carry permit that costs only $10 and is good for four years.

  8. in response to Morgan (response 20). If you are happy being Australian, under a government which does not offer the liberty we Americans enjoy through our inalienable rights, then good for you. As an American, and grateful for the liberty that is mine as an American, I cherish my rights which so many Americans have fought and died to preserve. I for one will not give up my rights, and as they are inalienable, cannot be taken from me a “benevolent” government. Only We the People can give away our rights. We must remain vigilant and vocal.

  9. Hey Shawn,
    Dont want to get into a pissing match here but I have to disagree with you on the issue of this being JUST a RIGHT. We, as citizens of this Republic are privliaged to have been born, live, work, and have freedoms which a great deal of the remaining world dont have nearly in the abundance that we do. There are those of us who have served, are serving, and will serve in the future that did so to support this privlage. Its is our responsibility to maintain the high standard of that privliage. We are not just given these Rights, we are required to earn them. We must care for them and reconize that they are a living documents, designed to be flexable and allow for their defination to evolve. CCP are not a right. THEY are a privliage. In some places more than others but a privliage non the less. be angery for the right reasons, speak your opinion from a foundation of fact and knowlage. Choose to stand for what you are able to support and be willing to risk the consquences should your stand falter or fail. Have a plan B, a fall back position. Dont repeate what sounds “good”. Repeat the facts that are based in knowlage, defend the Rights of those that disagree with you. Don’t yell . . . I know ya want to, so do I, BUT the quiet yet powerful voice is the voice that is heard and remembered. If you must fight, fight them on their ground not yours or bring them to ground that is to your advantage. Sun Tzu is a good read for this kind of battle. Its the Grass Roots that will make the differance on this issue. You, Me, one voice at a time, standing for the Privliage to have the Rights we have. We must convince those who see “gun-control” as the path to security that its, again, only a band aid and does not address the real issues of Mental Health, Crime, Gang Violance, to name a few that are the heart of the problem. The knee jurk reaction sweeping this country will have a rude awaking because their solutions WILL NOT STOP the next hanious incedent or national outrage were firearms are involved. At some point the discussion must be placed on the stage of real solutions to the actual problems. Reality really is to a great degree that that its about the PEOPLE not about the WEAPONS THEY CHOOSE. SOLVE THE PEOPLE PROBLEMS AND YOU SOLVE THE REAL ISSUEs. until we face that we accomplish nothing more than dividing the country further and giving away our power as a people to an very small elected minority with there own adjendas that have little to do with real issues and their solutiuons. My thoughts, My opinion. I stand by them and support them. Hope you listened and understood my point of view. thanks for reading.

  10. Sound like Arizona, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming are the the only states that have it right. Carrying a firearm isn’t a privilege its are our right. Concealed permits are a cash cow for the states and a tracking device. I guess before long we’re going to have a permit to attend church. I’m sure in Illinois and Dc you want even be allowed to attend.
    America the great! more like the walking dead.

  11. For those of you in New York State, New York City, Long Island, and other yellow or red states on the above map, I would suggest the freedom of Wyo or AZ, perhaps a western BLUE state.
    Should the adventure bug allow you to leave the wilds of upstae NY or the Big Valley of Fienstienland. I would suggest that perhaps you may wish to join those of us in Alaska which along with Wyo and AZ continue to view the ownership and carry of firearms as a responsibility of American adults, as a tools of our enviorment, who understand the privlige it is and needs no goverment to regulate lawabiding citizens to bolster their political record for reelection or to futher extreme political platforms. Well . . . . its just a thought.

  12. Interesting that there is known counter-concealed weapon argument.
    Now please don’t bite my head off, but I am against the carrying of concealed firearms. I have lived in Australia for eight years now and guns are simply not a problem. Why? Because the constitution forbids the carrying of fire arms for self defense. Nobody else has a gun, so you don’t need one too. Its simple and effective. There is no need to apply for a permit, or worry about concealing anything.
    Firearms for self-defense create more problems than they solve.
    Cheers,
    Morgan

    1. With all due respects sir, people do carry guns in Australia illegally. You may not have come across one yet but if you do will you then wish for the rights that have been taken away?

  13. …it really irritates me when people refer to New York State they think you’re talking about New York City. I’m 500 miles across state from New York City. I was told by our pistol permit instructor that we have more registered guns in this county than any other county in New York State.

  14. By the way…New York City is NOT New York State. I’m from western NYS and getting a pistol permit is NOT impossible. A lot of paperwork, references, you must submit your application in person and it’s by appointment only and it takes 6 to 9 months, but from what I’ve heard you usually do not get denied.

  15. I’ve been carrying concealed for eight years, and I think this is an excellent article.
    About a year ago, a driver with road rage pulled up next to me st a red light and started screaming obscenities and threats. My reaction was entirely aimed at AVOIDING ESCALATION. I didn’t say a word, didn’t smirk or gesture, focused on not proviking him any further, and took off when the light changed. (I’m an ex-cabbie driving a Crown Victoria, so there was no problem getting well away from Mr. Road Rage).
    I had no fear of personal injury. My biggest concern was to avoid creating a situation where my Glock would be drawn and fired, and to get away from the crazy threatening guy.

    If I had found myself angry, hostile, or provocative in this situation, I wouldn’t want to carry any more. I didn’t.

  16. I applied for a pemit to carry in the state of Ga, I’ve lived here for 7yrs. I’ve been told by frends, and such that it’s ok to carry without a permit. “Not True” anyway I do everything by the book, I own a 40cal. I’ve been shooting for 40yrs, and I’m joining the NRA again. As well as taking up with a local gun club,and taking defence classes. If your thinking about getting a permit to carry my advice to you is, get personal insurance, if you shoot a bad guy he or they can sue your butt all the way to the poor house. “Be prepared before you carry”.

  17. Even though I no longer carry because I don’t train as extensively as I used to I thought your article was a very well written brief on the basics. I would like to say that people, especially new owners, should be aware that there is a huge difference between being able to quickly and accurately hit a target on the gun range and being able to hit a target at all in a real life situation. Nonetheless, extensive range time is necessary, my uncle is licensed to carry and sees no need to go to a range to practice and in the month of Dec was still able to accidentally shoot a wall in his home, put a round through his hand in his car and shoot my mother in her leg in her driveway as he showed her how to unload it. Thank goodness it was only a .22 short revolver.

  18. Glenn touched on this above, but I wanted to chime in as well.
    It was stated in many states it’s illegal to brandish a weapon. True, but when a concealed carry piece is revealed say due to the wind blowing open my unzipped coat, it is not brandishing.

    Brandish: 1. To wave or flourish (a weapon, for example) menacingly. 2. To display ostentatiously.

  19. Brian – Be careful with that recommendation. If you should ever move out of CA to a shall issue state, some have a question on the application, “Have you ever been denied a permit to carry a firearm” or similar. This can be a disqualifying factor to which you will have to appeal to the court and hope they understand the real reason for the CA denial was to no fault of your own.
    Glenn – Florida does not allow open carry, and a person can be cited for their firearm being unintentionally exposed. Unfortunately their law is vague and the responding officer has discretion on how to handle the situation.
    Good article. The only thing I would add is to research the laws of your state and any state you plan to travel to while carrying your firearm, regardless of what class you may have taken. Laws are changing constantly and ignorance is no defense.

  20. Well, I like the information, and it is helpful. But it is incorrect.
    Washington DC is NOT A STATE! So stating that there are 2 states is incorrect.

  21. Your comment stating “Concealed means concealed” implies that carrying a handgun properly holstered but unconcealed is brandishing. I do not know about other states, but Mississippi issues a Firearms Permit and it does not require the weapon to be concealed.

  22. I live in California, so my chances of getting a CCW are almost impossible. However, i was told that sometimes applying (and getting denied) is almost as good as having a CCW. If it goes to court, you have proof that you deemed it necessary to be able to protect yourself, the state of CA thought otherwise. You turned out to be right.

  23. Thank you. I just applied for my permit in PA (a shall-issue state) and it’ll be arriving shortly. I’m glad to see that I’ve covered these basics. My next step is extensive training before I carry. Oh, and buying some more ammo…apparently that’s nearly impossible to do right now. 🙂

  24. I don’t have a permit, but am considering it, since politicians might see the numbers of permits and recognize holders to be a potentially powerful voting block and reconsider firearms restrictions.

  25. Aardvark,
    I too am from Long Island and you are 100% right. There is a better chance to build a rocket, get permission to space travel and fly back to earth before one gets a concealed carry permit,let alone a permit to carry to your local range. Its disgusting to say the least. New York has turned into a police state a long time ago.

  26. First, just an FYI; the District of Columbia (D.C.) is not a state. Second on December 11, 2012, the U.S 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the Illinois ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional. They gave Illinois lawmakers 180 days to develop a law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public.

    I further believe that states which restrict carrying a weapon are doing so in violation of the constitution. With great freedom comes great responsibility. Irresponsible use of a weapon should not be tolerated.

  27. I live on Long Island, NY. I might as well apply for a permit to own a live pink unicorn. One has as good a chance of getting that as a permit to carry around here.

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