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Welcome to Concealed Handgun HQ

Concealed Carry: the practice of carrying a weapon (commonly a handgun) in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in close proximity.

There are numerous names for concealed carry based on the terms used by the states for their license or permit – most commonly called a Concealed Handgun License or Permit (CHL, CHP) or Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW).  Other names include Concealed Carry Permit or License (CCP, CCL), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapons license (CCDW), Concealed Defensive or Deadly Weapon Permit or License (CDWL, CDWP, CWP, CWL), License to Carry Firearms (LTC, LTCF) or Concealed Pistol License (CPL) among many others.

Federal Laws

Federal law generally leaves the issue of concealed weapons permits to the states.  After the Illinois ban on concealed weapons was overturned in federal appeals court on constitutional grounds, all 50 states now have passed laws that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons in public.  However, there are several Federal Acts that govern firearms and by extension affect concealed handgun carry.

Gun Control Act of 1968 [National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. Chapter 53)]

Passed by Congress in 1968, this action regulates the import and interstate commerce of firearms, expands requirements for gun dealer licensing and record keeping, and placed limitations on the sale of handguns.  Felons, illegal aliens, the mentally incompetent, and users of illegal drugs were prohibited from buying guns.

Federal Gun Free School Zones Act [18 USC Sec 922]

Passed in 1990 and slightly modified in 1995, this act amended the Federal Criminal code to impose criminal penalties for knowingly bringing a gun within 1,000 feet of a school or firing a gun within a school zone.

National Park Carry [Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, H.R. 627]

Although the main purpose of this action was unrelated, it contained an amendment that prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from enacting regulations that would restrict the possession of firearms in National Parks or Wildlife Refuges, as long as the person complies with the laws of the state they are in.  Note that carrying firearms is restricted by federal statute on certain Federal properties such as military installations or land controlled by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

State Laws

The 50 states can be categorized in 4 groups based on how they issue concealed handgun carry weapon permits or licenses: Unrestricted, Shall-Issue, May-Issue, and No-Issue jurisdictions.

Unrestricted or “Constitutional Carry” States

No permit or license is required to carry a concealed firearm for residents within the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont, and Wyoming.  Open carry of a handgun without a concealed handgun permit is also allowed.

Shall-Issue States

The majority of US states fall within this category. Within Shall-Issue states, the granting authority is required to issue the concealed carry permit so long as the applicant meets the criteria as imposed by law.  The criteria vary greatly from state to state, but common requirements include background checks, submitting fingerprints, minimum age and residency requirements, completion of a concealed handgun safety course and/or demonstration of handgun proficiency, and payment of an application fee.

The following are Shall-Issue states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

May-Issue States

May-Issue states are generally more restrictive than Shall-Issue states – the granting authority has some discretion in the decision to issue the concealed carry license – and it may be necessary for the applicant to provide justification for their permit to carry a concealed handgun (a request for self-defense may not be enough to satisfy the “good cause” requirement).  Frequently law enforcement authorities (police, sheriff’s department, or state law enforcement) are involved in the application process within May-Issue states.

The following are May-Issue states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

No-Issue States and Jurisdictions

The District of Columbia is a No-Issue jurisdiction by law, private citizens are not permitted to carry a concealed handgun in public.  While technically May-Issue states, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland (and all US Territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, etc..) all have a government policy that instructs officials to never or rarely issue concealed weapons permits.  Certain local jurisdictions within New York and California are also so restrictive in their issuing practices that effectively they are No-Issue in practice.

Stand Your Ground – Castle Law

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