Coming to the conclusion that you want to own a firearm entails a big decision. By obtaining the necessary permits and purchasing your firearm, you are placing a large amount of responsibility and accountability upon your own shoulders. Whether your reason for owning a firearm is hunting, home defense, or anything in-between you are accepting any and all legal repercussions that could be incurred from improper use of your weapon system.
Obtaining a concealed carry permit essentially doubles that level of responsibility and accountability because you’re not permitted to carry in various public and private spaces. Adding to the gravity of these decisions, both avenues are fairly expensive. That’s why it’s important you know what to expect going into a firearms training or concealed carry training class so you can get the most value out of your firearm instructor and the overall experience.
What You Need to Know
Understanding Your State’s Firearm Ownership Requirements
Understanding your state’s gun laws, in addition to federal laws, can be a monumental task. Depending on which state you reside in, there are dozens of laws that you need to know to ensure you don’t become a gun felon. If you’re new to gun ownership, the first thing you need to figure out is whether your state requires you to obtain a license to possess or purchase a firearm. Some states, like Illinois, require you to obtain a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card in order to possess firearms or ammunition. On the other hand, states like Texas don’t require any licensing or registration.
Concealed Carry Requirements
Much like the laws surrounding obtaining firearms and ammunition, the rules and regulations for carrying a concealed firearm vary widely between states. There are three general stances that states have adopted to address concealed carry: permitless carry, “shall issue” permits, and “may issue” permits.
Currently, 21 states have adopted permitless carry laws that allow any individual who is able to legally possess a firearm to carry concealed while in most public places. These states will also grant permits upon request, and it is our opinion that you should receive concealed carry training and obtain a permit even when the law doesn’t require one. We cover our top 3 reasons why in this blog.
The 21 states that allow permitless carry are:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota (residents only)
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
“Shall issue” states require a person to satisfy a predetermined set of requirements— such as obtaining formal training and passing a background check—to be eligible for a concealed carry permit. Given that an individual has fulfilled the state’s requirements, the state must grant them a permit to carry (with little or no discretion) once they have applied. There are currently 41 states plus Washington DC, that are considered shall issue and must issue concealed carry permits to eligible applicants.
These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
Vermont does not issue permits, and a permit is not required to carry a firearm in Vermont.
The remaining 8 states’ concealed carry regulations are much more restrictive. These states give permits at their own discretion and can refuse to give you a permit even if you meet all their requirements. These are called “may issue” states.
The 8 most restrictive states are:
- New Jersey
- New York
What You Can Expect to Learn
Each of our concealed carry and firearm safety training courses teaches you everything you need to know in order to obtain your concealed carry license and any applicable firearm owners permit that your state requires.
Remember, the requirements for these licenses and permits vary widely, so the length and content of classes can change between states. Depending on your state’s laws, you may be able to bypass the introductory portions of a class if you have previously obtained training credits.
That being said, these are a few of the topics that you can expect to learn during your class.
Many of our classes are designed to be accessible to those with little or no prior knowledge or experience with firearms as well as seasoned owners who have yet to receive formal concealed carry training and permits.
We teach our students the fundamental rules of firearm safety to ensure everyone understands how to responsibly handle a firearm. Students then learn about the anatomy of firearms and how they operate before learning how to perform regular maintenance and properly store their weapons. During our classes, you will also learn how to properly load and unload a concealed firearm with your firearm instructor.
Principles of Marksmanship
Whether you’re a brand new gun owner or you’ve been to the range many times over the year, it never hurts to go over the fundamentals. Having a strong grasp of the basic principles of marksmanship is fundamental to firearm use.
This portion of our classes teaches students everything they need to know to engage in basic marksmanship. It covers everything from stance and grip to weapon handling and trigger control. Students learn how to align their sights and engage in dry fire drills in order to practice putting these skills to use in a safe, controlled environment with a firearm instructor.
So you’ve observed your environment, oriented your mind towards the situations, and now you must decide. This is
Situational awareness is the conscious perception of your environment, the people around you, and what those people are doing. Maintaining situational awareness is a must for any individual who plans on carrying a concealed weapon.
While it is our sincere hope that you never have to use force, you need to be prepared to recognize the correct situation where force is necessary – should the need arise. After all, the entire point of concealed carrying is to be able to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others around from potential threat actors while in public. But if you’re not aware of your surroundings you won’t be able to detect these threats and defend against them.
In our classes, you’ll learn techniques that will help you maintain situational awareness so you can recognize and avoid potential conflict at all times. Remember, your gun should always be your last resort. Attempting to avoid or escape a dangerous situation in public is always a best practice when possible. And recognizing potential situations before they happen will allow you to do so.
Live Fire Drills
Many of our classes include range time where students are required to demonstrate their ability to properly handle a firearm and accurately hit their targets. While many states do not mandate live fire training, others require applicants to exhibit competency with a concealed firearm in order to be eligible for a concealed carry license.
During this portion of the class, you can expect to learn range safety rules, implement the fundamentals of marksmanship, and fire at targets at various distances.
Understanding firearm laws is one of the most important aspects of owning a firearm and concealed carrying.
Because breaking a single rule can turn you into a gun felon who has forfeited their right to keep and bear arms. We want to ensure that you are adequately informed and prepared to follow all relevant federal and state laws so you don’t become an accidental gun felon. That’s why we take the time to teach you about these laws in our concealed carry training courses and firearms safety classes.
Our classes cover a variety of laws that you will need to follow including:
- State and Local Concealed Carry Laws
- Firearm Storage and Transportation Laws (Motor Vehicle and Airplane)
- Use of Force Laws
- Self Defense and Home Defense Laws
- Stand Your Ground vs Duty to Retreat laws
- Police Encounters While Carrying
- And More
Getting the Most Out of Your Class
Legal Heat is America’s largest provider of concealed carry courses, and we work with hundreds of instructors across the United States to provide responsible citizens like you with the training and certifications you need to concealed carry. Our firearm instructors come from all walks of life and are highly skilled with firearms. We work with U.S. military veterans, seasoned law enforcement professionals, experienced firearm lawyers, and certified firearm instructors to provide our students with the best training possible.
Dealing with Divergent Approaches
One thing you need to keep in mind when attending any class is that each firearm instructor you have may approach the same fundamentals with a philosophy that is different than what you have previously learned. This doesn’t mean you have to throw away what you already know, but you can certainly learn by looking at things through a different lens. You might even find that a different approach suits you better than the previous one.
Keep in mind that every firearm instructor has a different style of teaching. By approaching your class with an open mind and allowing your preconceived ideas to be challenged, you’ll be able to maximize the return on investment you get from the class. The only time you should absolutely reject a teaching is if it is outright dangerous. And at that point, you should ask the company hosting that class for a refund.
Protecting Yourself After You Receive Your Concealed Carry Permit
As you’ll learn from our courses, there are physical, mental, financial, and legal costs that will inevitably arise any time you have to use force to stop a threat. When push comes to shove and you’re forced to defend yourself, the last thing you want is to be caught off guard by the legal challenges that arise.
That’s why we recommend you sign up for a legal defense program specifically designed to help protect you when a self-defense incident occurs.
We highly recommend you check out our friends over at U.S. LawShield. As a member, you gain access to a variety of benefits, and if the worst should happen, you’ll be able to contact an experienced attorney through their Attorney Response 365™ program. We recommend U.S. LawShield as your go-to for self-defense coverage because they’ll be ready to help you navigate the legal landscape before police ever arrive on the scene.
Start Your Journey Towards a Firearm Safety Certification and Concealed Carry Permit Today
Our firearm instructors are currently holding classes in more than 40 states. We offer online and in-person classes to help provide you with the training you need to obtain your permit.
Each of our classes are designed to teach you everything you need to know in order to apply for permits that will enable you to carry in over 30 states!
Sign up for your class today and take the next step towards obtaining your firearm permits.
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.