So, you’re considering applying for your concealed carry permit (CCW permit). First off, we applaud you for wanting to exercise your rights and having the heart to defend yourself and others from criminals. Secondly, we want to assure you that obtaining your CCW permit is 100% worth it. Carrying your weapon on you is a big responsibility, and it’s one you shouldn’t take lightly. That’s why we’ve come up with 10 things you need to consider before you apply for your CCW permit.
What to know before getting your Concealed Carry Permit
- Know The Cost
- Local And State Laws
- Dressing The Part
- Receiving Additional Education
- What Weapon You Want To Carry
- Making Your Firearm A Secondary Deterrent
- The Potential Consequences Of Using Your Firearm
- Getting Legal Defense
- Continually Practicing
- Signing Up For A CCW Class
Know The Cost
Owning a firearm, let alone carrying one concealed, is an expensive endeavor that warrants your consideration. There are multiple variables that need to be accounted for. If you’re a soon-to-be first-time gun owner looking to defend yourself, there are at least 5 main expenses you need to prepare for:
- The fees to enroll in any firearms training courses required by your state.
- The initial purchasing cost of a firearm and ammunition.
- Additional range time and/or training (strongly recommended).
- The accessories needed to carry (belt and holster).
- The fees associated with concealed carry classes and permits.
Regardless, always keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you skimp out on your belt or holster, odds are they aren’t going to last very long, and they sure aren’t going to serve you well. At the end of the day, no cost is too high when it comes to protecting the lives of your family, friends, and yourself, so don’t skimp out on tools that are vital to your safety.
Local And State Laws
Understanding state and local laws are extremely important when you’re considering getting a CCW license. First of all, you need to understand the laws of your home state. Does your state require a permit specifically for carrying a concealed weapon? There are only 20 states in the nation that do not require residents to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm, so odds are that you answered yes to that question.
If your state requires a permit, you’ll need to know how often you’ll need to renew your permit and what classes or training are required to reobtain said permit. In California, you need to renew your concealed carry permit every 2 years and must take a 4-hour renewal course. In Illinois, you must renew your concealed carry permit every 5 years and take a 3-hour refresher course. This is just a sampling of the laws you must navigate to legally practice concealed carry.
Another important legal factor to take into consideration, specifically whenever you’re traveling, is permit reciprocity. That is, whether your state’s concealed carry permit is valid in the state you’re visiting. There are several states that do not honor permits issued by any other states, while some other states honor the permits issued by every other state.
Knowing the laws of the state you live in, and any other states you may be traveling to, will save you from a lot of unnecessary headaches and court dates. We’ve compiled the comprehensive 50 State Firearms Law Guide so you don’t have to go digging through legal codes or take the word of random websites.
We’ve also released a FREE mobile version of our 50 State Firearms Law Guide; this is the only free app written by attorneys with comprehensive concealed and open carry law summaries. The mobile version also provides you with a reciprocity map so you can see where you’re legally allowed to carry based on the permits given by your home state.
Dressing The Part
Allowing your firearm to physically imprint on your clothing is commonly referred to as “printing.” While there are no laws that explicitly make printing illegal, allowing your gun to print will likely draw the unwanted attention of both police and your fellow citizens. This can open you up to unnecessary interactions with police if someone saw your concealed weapon and decided to call 911.
Other than unwanted attention, allowing your gun to print can mean you forfeit your tactical advantage should a criminal decide to make a move on you or someone in your vicinity. Why? Because if they see you have a gun, and that alone doesn’t stop them from attempting to harm you or others, you’re instantly going to be the first target because they know you’re armed. The advantage of carrying a concealed weapon is that you always have the tactical edge.
This is a relatively easy problem to get around. For instance, investing in a holster that sits inside your waistband (commonly referred to IWB holsters) is an effective way to keep your weapon from printing.
Also, if you normally wear tight, form-fitting clothes, it’s time to throw on something a bit looser. Try finding outfits that allow you to effectively conceal your weapon without printing. Not only will they make carrying more comfortable, but you’ll raise less attention to yourself.
Receiving Additional Education
We can’t overstate the importance of becoming as educated as possible when it comes to both gun safety and gun laws. Nobody wants unnecessary entanglements with the law, and becoming as educated as possible is the number one way to avoid those situations. Now, we’re not advocating that you take legal or safety advice from your family members or your neighbors, we’re advocating that you spend some time and money to attend one of the many seminars or classes being held both virtually and in person.
There are a wide variety of seminars to choose from. At Legal Heat, we offer hundreds of in-person training courses throughout the United States, as well as a variety of online concealed carry courses tailored to individual states so you can get a good overview of your state’s legal landscape. There are even seminars out there curated to teach you about situational awareness in public and when you’re legally justified in shooting to defend yourself.
What Weapon You Want To Carry
Choosing the right piece as your Everyday Carry (EDC) weapon is essential to being prepared to handle whatever life-threatening situation may occur. You’ll need to decide what caliber ammunition you want to shoot. You also have to consider that a larger caliber usually means that you will be concealing a larger gun, and this can make the fact that you’re carrying more noticeable depending on the clothes you’re wearing.
Handguns that use 9mm ammunition are used more often by police because of their size, magazine capacity, and effectiveness. There are also a variety of great 9mm handguns on the market. If you prefer a full-sized handgun, the Glock 19 is a popular choice. If you want something a little more compact, both the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield and the Glock 43 are reliable choices.
The most important factor to consider when choosing your gun is how comfortable you are shooting it. All the comfort and stopping power in the world won’t mean anything if you lack the ability to discharge your weapon with confidence and accuracy.
Making Your Firearm A Secondary Deterrent
Being forced to fire your weapon in self-defense is not a decision you should take lightly. When you draw your gun, you quite literally hold the power of life and death in your hands. That being said, discharging your EDC weapon in self-defense should be a secondary measure when feasible. Having the tools to non-lethally subdue an assailant will not only save you from the psychological weight of having to take someone’s life should such tools prove effective, but it will probably help you in court should you use lethal force out of necessity. Which leads right into our next topic…
The Potential Consequences Of Using Your Firearm
Have you ever heard the saying “no good deed goes unpunished?” Unfortunately, it’s a fitting phrase for the events that will succeed from a successful self-defense encounter. Whether you injure an attacker or mortally wound them, there is going to be a fallout that will likely involve your arrest and a court date. This may seem counterintuitive since you were the victim, after all, however, the police don’t know that. All they know is there’s an injured or dead person and you pulled the trigger. Remember, neither arrest nor prosecution are indicative of guilt.
There are a couple of things to remember throughout the legal process, and it begins when the police arrive. If you wind up pulling the trigger, you’re likely going to be in shock from the events that just took place, and your heart will probably be racing from an adrenaline rush. If you’re not prepared before these two things happen, you can quickly wind up incriminating yourself. Remember your Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, and you have the right to an attorney.
Getting Legal Defense
We want to nail this point home because of how important it is. The second you unholster your EDC weapon and pull the trigger, the law is no longer on your side. Plain and simple. There will be both criminal and civil proceedings where you will stand trial for and could face jail time and monetary loss if the assailant, or their family, decides to sue you. This is the number one reason you need to get legal defense for self-defense, and we highly recommend U.S. LawShield.
When you join U.S. LawShield, you’re joining a community of 700,000 like-minded individuals ready to defend themselves should their life ever be endangered. As a member, you won’t pay a penny in attorneys’ fees, you’ll gain access to their 24/7/365 attorney-answered emergency hotline, and will have access to an attorney, on the line or in person, from the moment police arrive on the scene. No tiered coverage system, no fluff, just the coverage you need to be legally protected should you ever need to discharge your concealed carry weapon.
Practice. Makes. Perfect. If you plan on getting your concealed carry permit for self-defense, you need to be putting hours in on the range. Shooting a gun is just like any skill: the more you work on it, the better you get. If run-of-the-mill indoor ranges aren’t your thing, there are plenty of outdoor and tactical ranges you can practice on.
When the time comes that you need to unholster your weapon to defend yourself, and the adrenaline kicks in, your heart and mind are going to go into overdrive. While you’re never truly trained for a combat situation until you’ve lived through one, those extra hours at the range are going to help ensure that you shoot with precision and don’t lose control over your gun.
Not to mention, going to the range gives you great opportunities to meet other individuals who are passionate about self-defense. The training is definitely worth the time, and many local gun ranges offer classes geared toward training you to use your sidearm in a variety of situations.
Signing Up For A Class
This isn’t so much of a point to consider as it is one of the final steps in your journey to get a concealed carry permit. At Legal Heat, we’ve taught more than 250,000 responsible gun owners just like you the necessary safety measures, regulations, and laws to legally carry a concealed weapon.
We offer more than 200 concealed carry classes each month, and each of our classes is designed to maximize the number of states who view your permit as valid. Currently, all of our classes have been specifically designed to qualify you to carry in the most possible places, over 30 different states!
Our instructors are NRA® Certified and have a working knowledge of both national and local firearm laws.
Are you ready to take the next step in your self-defense journey? Sign up for one of our classes today and get the training you need for eligibility to obtain your CCW permit.
Phil Nelsen is a nationally recognized firearms law attorney, expert witness, college professor, author, and co-founder of Legal Heat, the nation’s largest firearms training firm.
Legal Heat offers CCW classes nationwide, and also publishes the industry-leading Legal Heat 50 State Guide to Firearm Laws and Regulations which can be downloaded on iTunes, GooglePlay, and Kindle App stores. You can purchase the paperback version of the Legal Heat 50 State Guide or sign up for a class at https://legalheat.com.
You can read more about Phil, or contact him, on his website www.philnelsen.com.