December 15, 2021

Weapons play a significant role in the private, public, and national life of the United States and its citizens. Discussions about legalities and firearms occur in Washington’s Supreme Court chambers and rural town hall meetings alike. It’s no question that the relationship between firearm possession and legal parameters is vital for every gun owner to know. Explore all the necessary things to know about US concealed carry laws.

What Is Concealed Carry?

When dealing with legal information, it’s essential to understand the foundational definitions first. Concealed carry is different from other forms of firearm positioning. By its very nature, concealed carry is all about the legal ability for a person to possess a firearm in a hidden place on their body or in a bag.

The difference is small but very important. If a person can carry their firearm in secret, no one in their vicinity will know about the weapon’s presence. If a person can only carry their firearm out in the open—like in their hands or across their shoulders—anyone who looks will immediately recognize the weapon’s presence. In the interest of maintaining personal and public safety, laws delineate guidelines for concealed carry in many states, proscribing firearm possession and usage for those outside the parameters.

The Four Levels of Concealed Carry Permits

There are four different levels of concealed carry permits that you should know. They range from highly restricted to unrestricted. Each state in the US adheres to one of these levels, enforcing these strictures with various rigidity.

Constitutional Carry

The first and least restrictive permit type is constitutional carry. This form of carrying is also known as permitless or unrestricted carry. In this case, there is no licensing requirement to carry a handgun in the open or concealed. Constitutional carry references the Second Amendment that discusses the rights of citizens to bear arms.


Shall-issue states require a permit for anyone wanting to carry a concealed handgun. The only barrier between an applicant and concealed carry permitting is meeting the legal criteria. Though there is a hoop to jump through, this is the simplest permitting process in the US. The specifics may differ slightly from state to state, but the general rule is that there are no outstanding requirements other than the pen-and-paper expectations. Upon meeting the requirements, the state shall issue the permit.


May-issue states operate by the principle that meeting written criteria isn’t enough. There is one final step that involves the sole discretion of the licenser. Passing the legal requirements places a person within reach of a permit, but the actual issuing of that permit is up to the local authorities. Because passing the permit conditions isn’t a direct guarantee, these states are called may-issue.


No-issue states do not let private citizens carry concealed handguns, except on rare occasions. This is not a denial of all gun ownership, but rather a refusal to permit concealed carry handguns. As of this writing, there are no entire states that restrict CCW for private citizens.

Size of Locality

One thing to remember is that federal, state, and local gun laws all work in tandem. The size of the locality will determine the specific opportunity for concealed carry. For example, you may live in a shall-issue state but a no-issue county or city. Depending on where you live–along with dozens of other factors—you may have quite nuanced gun ownership laws. But when it comes to concealed carry handguns, you can expect the law to rely on constitutional, shall-, may-, and no-carry rules.

How Do You Get a Concealed Carry Permit?

Knowing about the various legal situations and navigating them are two very different things. Since gun laws dictate the application process, you must know how the legal and practical pieces intermingle. How exactly do you get a concealed carry permit?

Assess Your State’s Regulations

Your first step in getting a concealed carry permit is assessing your state’s regulations. When you understand the cross-section of your federal and state rules, you will have a better strategy for applying. Since every state is different, you will need to start with your state’s .gov website to learn about permitting requirements, timelines, and costs.

The price of permitting usually varies by county. Additionally, the timeline will vary depending on where you live. In New York City, it can take up to four months to receive a response. Don’t always expect a quick turnaround.

Submit an Application

The application process will vary by locality. However, you will always need to submit a written application that includes information like the following:

  • Basic personal information. These items include your full legal name, date of birth, address, and social security number. You may need to submit a physical description of your appearance for the record.
  • Histories. You’ll need to share any and all criminal history—or none if you don’t have any. Along with this is a full mental health history signed by a doctor. These legal and medical histories give permitters a holistic view of you as a person.
  • References. Like a job application, you’ll need references to vouch for your characters and qualities. These should be people close to you who know about your behaviors under stress and can speak to your discernment.

Boosting Your Application

While it’s not always required, you should explore educational opportunities and courses for firearm safety. Enroll in a concealed carry course and find out how to safely handle a handgun and follow concealment protocols. Even if you’re already highly knowledgeable when it comes to guns, your willingness to learn more is a great addition to your application.

Common Permit Restrictions

A permit in one state doesn’t equate to a permit in another. While some states have reciprocity rules, this is not the case for every area. A permit from a highly restrictive issuing state may look sufficient to other states with laxer laws. When out-of-state permits are not honored, you must possess further documentation.

Understanding the necessary things to know about US concealed carry laws is important for every gun owner and prospective permit carrier. If you need somewhere to keep your firearm after permitting, explore our concealed carry equipment at Elite Survival Systems. We have the strongest nylon tactical gear for comfortable concealed carry.

Necessary Things To Know About US Concealed Carry Laws

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