How to Get Your Concealed Carry License

Concealed carry license requirements vary throughout the 50 states and U.S. Territories. While the Second Amendment grants all citizens the right to bear arms, some states require more training, background checks, and safeguards to ensure that guns remain in the hands of law-abiding, dutiful citizens.

Obtaining a concealed carry license can be a little trickier than merely getting a permit to carry, depending on the state. However, the payoff is worth the time spent and being able to carry concealed is an excellent way to ensure you can protect yourself and your family should you need to.

Shall Issue States

The first step to getting your concealed carry license is to determine what kind of state you live in: a shall issue, may issue, or constitutional carry state.

Shall issue states are states that will issue concealed carry permits to applicants that meet all of that state’s qualifications. Some shall issue states only issue to residents, so it’s important to look into your state’s laws.

This can become complicated for people who travel on long-term assignments for work or for business owners who work in one state but reside in another.

May Issue States

States that are may issue look to see if the applicant meets all the qualifications for a concealed carry license and may ultimately make a judgment on allowing for that permit.

Typically, these decisions are first made at the local level, such as the police chief of a town, and then sent up to the state police division for approval. Some may issue states also exclude non-residents, so it is essential to check your state’s requirements.

Constitutional Carry States

Constitutional carry states allow eligible citizens to carry a concealed firearm without the need for a license. These states can then be further sub-categorized into those which allow only residents to carry versus those that will issue to both residents and non-residents.

Right Denied States

There are currently two U.S. Territories which do not allow concealed carry licenses: The Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, which fall into the category of rights denied states.

Know Your Laws

While many may issue states require applicants to take a course first, it is still a good idea to brush up on the laws in states which are shall issue or constitutional carry, but which do not require prior educational courses.

These laws vary widely in regard to concealed carry licenses and the use of deadly force in a public place. For instance, having alcohol in your system can invalidate the justified use of a concealed carry weapon in some states. In other states, there are strictly prohibited areas for carrying any concealed weapon.

Even if your state does not require a course, find one anyway. These courses cover some of the more complicated aspects of legal statutes. Ignorance of the law does not make you innocent; educate yourself as much as possible before purchasing any weapon.

Training

Most may issue states require a class and live-fire training to grant applicants their license to carry. One of the most beneficial training seminars you can take to acquire a concealed carry permit is the Utah Multi-State Concealed Carry license, also known as the Utah Permit.

There are currently 33 states that accept the Utah non-resident permit for a concealed carry license. The requirements for getting the Utah non-resident permit include completing a firearms familiarity course certified by the Utah BCI and taught by certified instructors.

While some states have reciprocity with one another, it is worth researching the reciprocities of different permits and their requirements, especially if you plan to travel with your concealed weapon.

Most weapons training courses include a few hours of class time, which cover topics such as types of guns and ammunition, state laws, gun safety, and choosing the best-concealed carry holsters.

There are also in-class demonstrations for loading and unloading a weapon, which ultimately leads to live-fire range time with your instructor. The certificate you receive at the end of the course is required for submission with your application.

Background Checks and Letters of Reference

Some may issue states require a rigorous background check and up to three letters of reference before they will decide to issue a concealed carry license.

The background checks typically consist of a questionnaire about your criminal history and a comprehensive fingerprinting, which is run against the state and national criminal databases.

The letters of reference cannot be obtained from family members. Writers should be members of the community with upstanding reputations who know you well and can attest to your character, such as a teacher, a police officer, or a city councilman.

It is important to note that some states, even if you pass the background check for your license, still conduct a new background check whenever you purchase a firearm.

The Fee

Most states that require an application for a concealed carry license also require a fee at the time of application submission. These fees can range from anywhere between $50-$100, so check with your local jurisdiction’s application fee policies.

The Equipment

Once you have received your concealed carry license, it is important to make safety and comfort the top priorities for your chosen concealed carry pistol.

The most important piece of equipment, other than your gun and ammo, is your choice of concealed carry holster. There is a variety of ways to carry concealed, and it will vary according to the pistol you choose, where you want to carry it on your body, and how you want to carry it.

Not all holsters are alike. When choosing a concealed carry holster, it should not catch on the gun, it should offer quick draw-speed, and it needs to fit your chosen firearm well.

Inside-the-waistband holsters, or IWB holsters, are some of the most popular choices for concealed carry pistols. IWB holsters are easy to access quickly, sit snugly against the abdomen, and are simple to conceal for both men and women. Many IWB holsters have accessories for carrying additional ammunition, as well.

Spend Time at the Range

Muscle memory is a huge advantage for learning how to carry and protect yourself with a firearm. In high-stress situations, your body will remember what to do even if your mind is focusing on what is happening around you.

To achieve this, spend time at the range firing your chosen concealed carry weapon. Don’t just target practice; get a sense of how long it takes for you to unholster your weapon and get into a firing stance. Many gun ranges have different holsters you can try out with your pistol to see which is the best IWB holster for you.

Final Thoughts

While the requirements for getting your concealed carry license vary from state-to-state, having your license means you can confidently protect yourself and your loved ones. Become informed about your weapon and the laws pertaining to it and practice often. You never know when you will need to take action and save a life.  

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1 comment
Taylor Bishop says July 31, 2019

Thanks for the advice for getting a concealed carry license. I’m glad you mentioned you should learn the laws of the states where you can get it. This seems really important especially if you travel to certain areas a lot.

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