In 1776, our founding fathers made a choice.
They had two options:
- Let King George continue to tyrannize them from a small island thousands of miles away, or
- Stand up and fight for freedom and independence from this psychopathic dictator.
If you live in the United States, you can thank those men (and the woman) for making such a courageous choice.
They risked everything to provide their children with a free nation.
One in which you can be anyone, poor or rich, and make a name for yourself.
Why are we bringing all of this up?
Because the founding fathers could only defend themselves using their firearms, which ironically the British tried to take away right before the revolution.
The minutemen, armed with their firearms, were the reason why America won the battle for independence, and it’s why our country stands so strong against invasion.
There’s an amazing quote that defines America in one sentence:
"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."
– Isoroku Yamamoto (Commander In Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy)
The reason why other countries respect the people of America (even if they disrespect the politicians) is because of our persistence to allow the citizens the right to keep and bear arms.
Even more, not only are we allowed to own firearms, but we’re allowed to carry them around in public under the laws concerning Concealed Carry.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the concept of Concealed Carry here in the United States.
This page is meant to be a central place for all people to come for learning about everything and anything related to your conceal carry permit.
Let’s get started…
What Is A Concealed Carry (CCW) Permit & What Does A Concealed Carry Permit Mean?
To put it simply, a concealed carry permit is a certification (generally recognized by the state, more on this in a moment) allowing you (a legal citizen with no felonies) to carry a weapon (usually a handgun) in public, but concealed from view by any person.
This permit gives you the right to legally carry your weapon on your person (as long as it’s out of view) at all times, except for restricted premises.
Think of a concealed carry permit as a driver’s license. You need a driver's license to drive a car, just like you need a CCW permit to carry a weapon.
Although it’s important to know each state in the United States has its own right to issue a concealed carry permit.
History & Meaning Of Concealed Carry Permit
Firearms in the United States is sort of a religion. And for good reason.
We have a law called the Second Amendment within the Bill of Rights which states:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
This guarantees citizens the right to defend their life, liberty, and Country through the use of firearms.
There is no other country in the world where the ability to keep and bear arms (against enemies foreign and domestic) is seen as an inalienable right granted by the Creator.
The founding fathers knew that governments would always turn towards corruption, because people make up the government (and those people will become corrupt), so they provided the citizens with a way to defend themselves that would be VERY hard to get rid of.
While the Second Amendment has been around since the birth of the United States, the concept of conceal carry is actually fairly new.
Before the 1970’s many states actually had laws banning the concept of conceal carry. It was fairly common (even up to that point) for people to openly carry a weapon for self defense. The culture of the time believed only criminals had to conceal their weapon as open carry was so common.
These restrictions make up the earliest known firearm restriction laws for the United States. It’s unfortunate, but there’s evidence these conceal carry limitations were used as a roundabout method to commit serious racism.
It wasn’t until the mid to late 20th century (most historians point to 1976 when Georgia passed a law allowing concealed carry with a permit) where modern approaches to concealed carry licensing started.
From this point there was a massive wave of legislation legalizing the concept of a concealed carry permit or license.
Now every state has a law allowing for concealed carry within their borders, although some states make it nearly impossible to get one.
Conceal Carry (CCW) Permit Policies
Conceal carry permits broadly fall into 4 different buckets. Before we get into the details, it’s important to remember each state has the individual right to pick which bucket they wish to operate in.
Here are the four categories of conceal carry permits:
- Unrestricted - you’re not required to have a permit to conceal carry.
- Shall-Issue - requires a license to conceal carry, and will grant license automatically if you meet the criteria.
- May-Issue - requires a license to conceal carry, and local authorities may or may not grant license if you meet the criteria.
- No-Issue - no license will be allowed for concealed carry - unless federally exempt (military, law enforcement, etc.)
By the way, these laws assume you’re eligible federally to purchase and own a firearm. These permit policies are null and void if you’re not able to own a firearm. For instance, if you’re a felon, mentally ill, or an illegal alien, you’re not allowed to own a firearm.
Check your local regulators for more information.
Unrestricted Concealed Carry Permit
This is a relatively new concept in the United States, but it’s quickly being adopted by many states within the union.
What is Unrestricted concealed carry?
It’s a state (or jurisdiction) which allows a resident to conceal carry a handgun without a permit. This is also known as constitutional carry - where the law is being taken from the constitution as the residents right to conceal carry.
There are two different forms of unrestricted concealed carry:
- Fully unrestricted - where the entire state allows for conceal carry.
- Partially unrestricted - only certain forms of conceal carry are allowed without a license, and other forms require a license.
Currently there are 19 states with unrestricted constitutional carry laws in place:
* Only if carried in a holster, bag, sheath, or fully enclosed case.
Shall Issue Concealed Carry Permit
A majority of the states in the union operate under the shall issue model.
The states who operate under this style of conceal carry laws indicate that a resident is required to have a license to carry a concealed weapon, but as long as the resident meets the criteria for obtaining the concealed carry permit, the state will automatically grant the license.
The resident doesn’t need to demonstrate reasonable cause for needing the weapon to the state.
The requirements for each state vary (often widely) but they typically include submitting fingerprints, passing a background check, taking a safety class, and paying a fee for the permit.
Be sure to check with your local state legislature to understand your specific requirements.
The good news is that if you meet the criteria, you’ll automatically be given the concealed carry permit.
There are currently 41 states (plus D.C.) operating under the shall issue methodology:
It’s important to note - each state has a different method for renewing your permit. Some allow for automatic renewal if you pay the fee before expiration, others require additional training to renew.
As always, be sure to check with your local authorities.
May Issue Concealed Carry
This is a highly controversial topic within the concealed carry space.
States that operate under the May Issue legislation indicate that a resident is required to have a permit to conceal carry, and these permits are solely granted by the approval and discretion of the local authority (usually the local police department).
These states have the right to deny you any access to a concealed carry permit, even without a good reason for the denial.
The only way to obtain a permit within these states is to:
- Meet all requirements laid forth by the states legislature - these are typically the same requirements usually required by the shall issue states.
- Provide good cause to the local authorities - this means you must convince your local authority of why you need the permit.
Good cause can create confusion because each state is different. For instance, in New York (particularly further inland) you’ll find that self defense is a perfectly reasonable “good cause” for getting a concealed carry permit. While further near the port this isn’t the case.
As always - check with your local authorities to verify.
These 9 states fall under the May Issue jurisdiction:
No Issue Concealed Carry Permit
This indicates the state does not allow for residents to obtain any form of a concealed carry permit, nor are they allowed to conceal carry a handgun in public.
There are currently no states that fall into this jurisdiction, however it was popular before the late 1970’s.
How To Get A Concealed Carry Permit
Now that you’re familiar with the different permit policies for each state, you’ll be able to successfully navigate the process of obtaining your concealed carry permit.
It’s important for us to remind you again…
Each state has a different application process, along with their own legislation and views on permit rights. We do our best to provide you with the most up to date and accurate information, however you MUST double check with your local authorities for confirmation.
Remember - just because a statute or law says one thing clearly, and you know this, it doesn’t mean all members of the law do. Keep this in mind while navigating this process.
Here are the steps to get started:
- Research Your State's Concealed Carry Laws
- Complete A Concealed Carry Class
- File Application To Local Authorities
- Stay Current With CCW Training
Research Your State’s Concealed Carry Laws
Before you start filling out applications or taking courses, you’ll want to have a good grasp of your state's laws regarding obtaining a concealed carry license.
Before you begin this process, you first need to ask yourself: “Do I meet the federal requirements for owning a gun?”
What are the federal requirements for CCW?
In the U.S. there was a law passed in 1968 called the “Gun Control Act of 1968” which lays out the federal requirements for possession of a firearm.
Here are some quick highlights:
- Must be minimum of 18 years old to purchase long barrel
- Must be minimum of 21 years old to purchase a handgun
- Felons, fugitives, and people involuntarily committed to a mental facility, and illegal immigrants are not allowed to purchase a weapon
- If you’ve even been found guilty of possession of a controlled substance (including marijuana) you’re not allowed to own a gun
There are more details, but those are the big highlights.
If you meet the federal criteria, you’re now able to look at your state criteria as the next portion of this step.
Normally the states require the following:
- Proof of residency
- Background check
- Good cause
Now, other states may have more strict (or less strict) requirements, but that’s what we typically see when it comes to obtaining your concealed carry permit.
If you’re interested, here’s a list of each state's concealed carry requirements broken down in further detail.
Complete A Concealed Carry Class
We highly recommend you complete a concealed carry class, even if your state doesn’t require it to be completed for obtaining a CCW permit.
These classes are designed to give you a winning edge over any threat you might encounter. You’ll learn the fundamentals of gun safety, owning a firearm, and the ways to prevent a threat. These are skills you’ll keep with you for your life.
Plus, by taking a class you’ll be more knowledgeable about your states laws or jurisdictions related to concealed carry. This can prevent you from going to jail and could keep you out of a lawsuit.
online in minutes.
File Application To Local Authorities
If you complete the 2 steps above you’re now ready to fill out your application. Be sure to complete your CCW permit exactly as requested.
Most applications ask for the following:
- Copy of driver's license (for proof of residence)
- Background check
- CCW class certification
- Check (or money order) for processing fee
Depending on your state it can take between 1 week and 2-3 months to get approval for a CCW permit. We’ve often heard it taking up to 6 months for some jurisdictions in May Issue states like California, New Jersey, and New York.
Stay Current With CCW Training
Each year you should double check with your state legislature to ensure there are no requirements for recertification with your CCW permit. It’s constantly changing and it’s best to stay up to date on the gun laws within your jurisdiction.
The last thing you need is a lawsuit because you were unaware of a law change.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Concealed carry reciprocity is the concept that one state's certification process is rigorous enough to be viewed as “valid” by another state.
For example, let’s say I have a concealed carry permit in the state of Texas. I’ve gone through all training programs and processes to obtain the permit, and I’m a federally legal gun owner. If I were to cross into the state of Louisiana, would I be allowed to conceal carry there also?
That’s the question of reciprocity. Do the states have mutual agreement between each other for accepting a conceal carry permit as valid within their own jurisdiction?
Here’s a quick list of the current state codes for issuing a conceal carry permit.