Concealed Carry Guide | State Laws, Concealed Carry Holsters, and More
You never know when the day might come that you are forced to defend yourself or your family. No one ever wants to think about something bad happening to them, but unfortunately, sometimes our world has other plans for us.
Carrying a concealed firearm is a huge decision that can help reduce the potential for being the victim of a horrible crime. A firearm can serve as the ultimate weapon for self-defense.
However, not understanding conceal carry laws in your state or states you intend to travel within, can cause you all types of legal grief. It is imperative that you study the laws in the states that will apply to you. It is essential that you get the proper conceal carry permits required by the state or states you intend to carry in. You also need to understand your state’s laws that govern your right to use a gun for self-defense.
It is equally imperative that you get the proper gun safety training.
The goal of this eBook is to introduce you to the concept of concealed carry, provide official conceal carry state resources, and encourage you to seek out gun safety training. This should not be considered a book that’s helping you interpret the law, nor professing to be a law guide in any way.
I conceal carry. This article is my advice to you regarding my own personal experiences.
Should/Can You Carry a Concealed Firearm?
No one should carry or even handle a firearm without getting the proper training in both using the firearm and firearm safety. Carrying a firearm is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life. It not only affects you, but it can affect your family and those around you if you aren’t properly trained to carry the weapon
Therefore, get trained, learn firearm safety.
If you feel that you are willing to learn firearm safety and that your personal and family self-defense would be much improved by carrying a concealed weapon, then a concealed carry permit might be right for you.
To get started, you need to understand the following: Do you live in a state, or visit a state, that allows you to conceal carry a firearm?
Consequently, the state laws for concealed carry will help you decide whether or not you should carry a concealed firearm.
- People convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, unless state law has reinstated the right.
- Those who illegally use drugs or narcotics
- Those deemed incompetent or suffering from specific mental conditions
- A non-United States citizen who is NOT in the process of immigrating into the US
- Illegal aliens
- A person who has renounced their US citizenship
- Anyone under the age of 18
- A person convicted of a domestic violence charge
- A person being indicted for crimes punishable for a year or more in prison
You need to check your state laws for eligibility for a concealed carry permit.
Can I apply to a state I’m not a resident of?
Refer to the map, there is “resident” and “non-resident” issue states. Some states will allow for non-residents to apply for a conceal carry permit.
Does a state have to issue me a concealed carry permit?
By law, if you meet all of the criteria a state puts forth for being approved, they should issue the concealed carry permit. The issue with certain states, such as New Jersey and California, is that they are “May Issue” states. In other words, they don’t have to issue a concealed carry permit, according to their own state laws.
New Jersey, for example, may make you describe a current threat in your life that warrants you protecting yourself from a gun.
Does my concealed carry permit in one state work in other states?
Depending on the state, this is possible. This is called concealed carry reciprocity. This means one state allows another state’s concealed carry permit. Often times, states that have a concealed carry reciprocity with another state have further restrictions on the non-state-permit persons. For example, State A’s conceal carry permit may work in State B, but not allow for concealed carry of knives at a certain length.
It is incredibly important to make sure you understand the laws in concern with concealed carry reciprocity before traveling to a state carrying a concealed firearm.
Shall Issue State Requirements
If you reside in a shall issue state, the following requirements are often needed to complete the concealed carry application process:
- Your substance abuse history
- Criminal history (if you have a felony or domestic abuse charge, you will be declined at the earliest possible moment)
- Sometimes you may be asked to fire one or more shots at a target while a witness is near
- Legal use of force training
Depending on the state, the application process may necessitate more or less of these points.
What if I get unfairly declined for my CCW?
Getting declined for a CCW, depending on the state, is fairly common even for people who may well meet all of the state’s requirements. Shall issue states, during the application process, may experience clerical errors. Your background may have a questionable event that needs clarification by the state, which will then open up a new file on you. Sometimes, you may be asked to meet with a state official at the department of agriculture over the matter.
Whatever the case, things happen, and your job is to not panic. Be nice and contact the state and inquire as to what the issue is if they didn’t clarify such in your decline or temporary hold. If it is something odd in your background, for example, your background shows an obscure crime from 15 years ago, you may need to reach out to that local court’s district and have them right a letter that explains the inaccuracy.
State governments are under tireless pressure from Federal and local level anti-gun associations to carry out stringent background checks. At times, this can create an imperfect CCW application process. Just be patient, if your state is a shall issue state and you meet the guidelines, you are more likely than not to be issued your CCW permit.
The important thing to do is be patient and follow the state’s instructions that allow you to clarify and rectify.
Can I Fly With My Gun?
Yes, you can often fly with a firearm pending you follow all the rules listed by TSA per airport, per state. Your CCW won’t have much to do with this aspect of travel.
Once you land in a state, you will be subject to their firearm laws. You will need to declare your firearm(s) with TSA. This will mean locking your firearm in a case that TSA is able to access. This means not having any ammunition inside the gun in any form.
Some airports have been known to sell firearm cases designed to make TSA’s job easier; and therefore, your job easier.
Here’s a resource where you start: TSA.GOV’s firearms and ammunition page.
Here’s a pertinent excerpt.
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“Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Firearm magazines and ammunition clips must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. Small arms ammunition, including ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it follows the packing guidelines described above.”
To be safe, call TSA at the airport you intend to check your firearm at.
Is it hard to conceal carry a firearm?
The first time you carry a concealed firearm is a nervous moment. Make no mistake about it, you’ve made a huge, life-changing decision. You’ve been trained to use the firearm safely. You have the proper permits. But how comfortable are you with a firearm on your body? How easily can you get to the firearm if something were to happen? Can other people see your firearm?
Everyone’s body type is different. Everyone’s comfort level with carrying a firearm varies greatly. The first way you end up carrying the firearm may not be the way you inevitably find as the best way.
Considerations for conceal carry:
- The gun being concealed. This is hugely important. You can’t allow your gun to be showing. You don’t really want the gun “printing,” which means the gun outline is showing through your shirt or pants or blouse. If you reach up for some detergent at Costco, does your firearm display for all to see? All conceal carry options should conceal the gun. It’s that simple. Let’s have a look at some conceal carry considerations.
- Comfort. This is the biggest struggle for most people who are new to carrying a firearm. The battle between how comfortable the gun sits on your body and how reasonable it would be to retrieve the gun in a bad situation is balancing act. You need to be comfortable, but you also need to know that your firearm is tucked away safely and easily retrievable if something bad goes down.
- Ability to retrieve the gun. The entire point of conceal carry is having a method of self-defense under the worst possible scenario. If you conceal your weapon on your ankle, but you have trouble bending over and getting the firearm, how well will that work if a criminal is threatening you harm? If you have trouble pulling the gun from a hip holster, it doesn’t do you much good.
Types of Conceal Carry.
Hip carry. This is probably the most popular style of carry for men. I conceal my firearm on my hip using a Sticky Holster. The Sticky Holster is unique in the way that it “sticks to the skin of the hip.” There are many different types of hip holsters, the most popular versions have clamps for the jeans or belt. Some hip holsters push the gun higher on your hips, the Sticky Holster keeps it lower. Depending on your weight, one or the other might be more comfortable.
Here’s a look at my CZ PC-10 C handgun on my hip using a sticky holster.
With my shirt over the top, you can’t see the firearm. However, it is easy for me to access. Many women also carry in such manner.
Belly Band. The belly band is a band that wraps around your abdomen area of your body. The gun is inside the belly band. The belly band can allow for a larger handgun to be concealed. It also keeps the gun completely concealed due to the upper body being covered by a shirt. Its not hard to access the firearm if the need arises. The downside, of course, is if you have to hug someone.
Thigh (women). Women have the ultimate conceal carry spot in the thigh. A thigh holster can often be attached as compression shorts. Or its simply a band that wraps around the thigh area. All the same, it shouldn’t print for women who sport a dress. Its easy to access. The downside, of course, you can’t wear jeans with it so you’d need to have a secondary carry method established for days you don’t wear something like a dress or skirt.
Ankle. A highly underrated carry spot. Ankle holsters keep the concealed weapon well off any part of the body that could potentially interact with others. Jeans or long pants should serve to conceal it completely. There are two downsides to this conceal spot:
First, it would be hard to carry anything other than a subcompact (think Glock 42 or 43). Second, you need to be somewhat athletic to retrieve it.
A huge benefit would be if you were to get grabbed by an attacker who might end up feeling your firearm on your abdomen or hip, alerting them of the presence of it. They might try to use it against you or force you to pull it out. They aren’t likely to notice the ankle carry. If you tumble to the ground, using flexibility or Jiu Jitsu, you could potentially retrieve the firearm during a scuffle undetected.
Off-body carry. I simply do not recommend this style of carry. This is popular with women due to carrying purses. For many new to concealed carry, it feels “safer” to carry the firearm off body. Many men and women will even choose to carry a backpack with them.
There are all types of safety issues at play with off-body carry.
For a woman carrying a purpose, a criminal is likely to immediately strip you of your purse during an attack, thereby relieving you of your means of self-defense.
Off-body carry in backpacks often leads to people losing their firearms. If you accidentally leave your purse at work, you’ve left a firearm unsafely stored and put others at risk.
If you leave a backpack on the counter even for just a minute while you use the restroom, there is nothing from stopping a curious toddler from accessing your bag.
Your firearm MUST BE SECURED at all times. Nothing secures it more than carrying concealed on your body.
Concealed Carry Chamber / Safety Debate
If you already understand how to use a semi-automatic gun, then you surely understand the concept of “chambering a round.”
The process of using a semi-automatic means inserting a loaded magazine into your handgun’s receiver. In order for the gun to be ready to fire, you must pull the slide back, thereby, “chambering a round.”
If you don’t already understand this concept, you need to get trained on a firearm before buying or handling one.
The “should I have a round chambered” argument in conceal carry is one of the most heated debates online. Many conceal carry advocates believe that by not chambering a round, you aren’t really ready for a nefarious scenario.
The logic is that you’d have to both pull the gun and chamber a round in a bad situation, thereby increasing the number of steps you’d need to take to defend yourself.
Advocates of not carrying a round chambered believe that you can train yourself to pull the firearm and chamber a round in short order. While it may take a touch longer, the fact that the gun does not have a round in the chamber while carrying it is one more step needed for the gun to have an accidental discharge.
This argument rages on. I’ve done it little justice here.
What I will say is that I don’t carry a firearm with a round chambered. I feel confident in my ability to chamber a round if needed.
Learn gun safety from a professional before considering any option.
Conceal carry is a life-changing decision, but it could help save your life one day. It is essential to get trained and to understand the state laws that govern your right to conceal carry a firearm. Additionally, it is essential that you understand when using your firearm to defend yourself is legally appropriate.
I would suggest checking out former CIA officer, Jason Hanson’s, The Covert Guide To Conceal Carry book. It’s a good beginner’s book.
Check out our SHTF gun guide as well. Please share our guide with friends, family and feel free to link to it on your website.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.