How to Get A Concealed Carry Permit

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How to Get A Concealed Carry Permit

A concealed carry permit isn't to be confused with permits to own or purchase a gun (link to How to Get a Gun License State by State), which are required in more than a few states.

In some states, concealed carry permits aren't a requirement, but an option you can choose as a gun owner.

In other states, concealed carry permits might be required to carry your weapon under certain circumstances.

So, what exactly is a concealed carry permit, and how does one go about getting it? Get the details below.

What Is a Concealed Carry Permit?

A concealed carry permit is a license granted by the issuing state that allows you to carry your firearm on you so that it can't be seen.

In some states, it's called a concealed weapons permit, a concealed carry license, or concealed handgun permit.

Regardless of the naming convention, the purpose is the same.

If you hold one of these permits, while you're in the state in question, you can hide gun on your person so that others don't know you have it.

Do I Need a Concealed Carry Permit?

That depends. In some states, a concealed carry permit is required by law if you want to carry your firearm with you — even in the open.

In others, you are free to carry your gun openly without any kind of permit, as long as you don't conceal the gun.

Still, others allow you to conceal your weapon or carry it openly without any kind of license or permit.

The states which don't require a permit to carry or conceal a firearm are called constitutional carry states. This is based on the idea that your permit is the Constitution.

For a long time — decades actually — the only state to fit this category was Vermont. Thanks to very strict wording within its constitution, Vermont has been unable to enact any regulations for how firearms are carried.

In recent years, other states have joined Vermont in enacting constitutional carry legislation.

Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

Additionally, North Dakota and Wyoming allow constitutional carry for residents of their state only — meaning restrictions can be placed on visitors.

Lastly, Arkansas claims to have constitutional carry, but current law in the state allows for interpretation by the state Attorney General when making decisions on the legality.

Since it's in question, it doesn't technically fall into the constitutional carry camp even though no permitting is currently required.

Does My State Issue a Permit?

In the event you find yourself in a state that doesn't allow for constitutional carry, you must discover what the permitting process is if you want to practice concealed carry.

This varies from state to state because it isn't federally regulated and falls to the individual states to set standards.

Typically, these states fall into two categories: shall-issue and may-issue.


A shall-issue state is one in which the law outlines specific criteria regarding permitting.

As long as the criteria are met, the permit is granted. In shall-issue states, the law defines exactly what must be done to obtain a permit.

As long as you aren't a felon and you meet the criteria, you get the permit.

According to their state laws, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin are shall-issue states.

The District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam also follow shall-issue processes.


On the other hand, a may-issue state leaves it up to the discretion of the issuing authority, which is typically the local sheriff's office or police department.

Regardless of whether you meet the criteria laid out in the state statutes, you must demonstrate a need or otherwise convince the issuing authority to give you the permit.

This can be entirely up to the issuing agent and there is little to no recourse if you're denied a permit under these cases.

By virtue of their state laws, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island are all may-issue states.

How Do I Get a Concealed Carry Permit?

While the requirements differ for each state, there are some universal aspects of obtaining a license to conceal your firearm.

The first and most obvious is that you can't be a convicted felon.

Even if it wasn't against federal law to be a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, every state has laws to that effect.

Other Disqualifiers

In addition to you being clear of felonies, your state might have other requirements regarding previous issues of driving under the influence or domestic abuse.

A previous misdemeanor might also be disqualifying if it involves violence.

Other issues that can keep you from qualifying for a concealed carry permit include mental health records, renouncement of U.S. citizenship, a dishonorable discharge from the military, and unpaid child support.

Just because a state is shall-issue doesn't mean everyone meets the criteria set out by the law.

Minimum CCW Requirements

The minimum age to apply for a concealed weapons permit is 18, although for many states, you must be at least 21.

In addition to age restrictions, you must also demonstrate firearms proficiency of some kind. In most states, that competency is demonstrated by attending a firearms course.

These courses must be licensed within the state to meet permitting requirements and are taught by credentialed professionals.

In some states, this class can be done online, and in others it must be done in person. The length of time the courses take vary from state to state; some can be done in one day, and others require multiple classes.

You typically must pay out of pocket for these courses, though it's possible in most states to avoid taking classes with proof of military service.

The Permit Process

To obtain your concealed carry permit, you must fill out an application and send it to the issuing authority.

You have to submit proof that you meet all the requirements, such as a certificate of completion for your proficiency course, proof of residency, and proof of age.

Along with the application is an authorization and release form.

This authorizes a background check to be performed and any other legal paperwork necessary for your state. At this point in the process, you also pay any fees related to obtaining your license.

Fees vary by locality and issuing authority and could include a licensing fee and other fees to cover processing forms and background checks.

Once you've paid all fees and submitted your packet, the forms proceed to the issuing authority, which is typically (but not always) the local sheriff.

Some states have restrictions forcing an issuance within a certain timeframe while others don't.

In most cases, you are notified of what to expect as far as wait times go when you turn in your paperwork.

If your permit is approved, it is either mailed to you or you're contacted to come and pick it up.

If you live in a may-issue state, this is the point at which you're notified of the next steps. There might be more paperwork to complete, an interview process, or both.

Unfortunately, this area has the most variance, since it's entirely up to the issuing authority and "demonstration of need" is subjective.

The jurisdiction will let you know of the next steps and any rights you may have regarding the decision.

After You Receive the Permit

Once you receive your permit, the renewal process is typically less involved than the original application.

In most states, the license is valid for five years — although in some, it can be as little as one year.

Remembering to get it renewed is likely entirely up to you, since most issuing organizations don't send out reminders like you get for a driver's license.

Going Forward

Getting the concealed carry permit isn't the end of the process.

After you've been entrusted with the responsibility of carrying your firearm concealed, it's up to you to maintain your right by following the laws, upholding standards, and continuing your training.

Don't think that because you've gotten the permit, you've done enough. The permit is just the beginning.

You'll be held to a higher standard as a concealed permit holder by both your fellow gun enthusiasts and the law.

You'll want to familiarize yourself with all aspects of firearm legality, from concealed carry reciprocity to properly traveling with a firearm.

Concealed carry is more than just hiding your firearm in the correct holster — it's a way of life.

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