For first-time gun buyers interested in self-defense, the questions surrounding how to get a concealed carry permit can be one of the most confusing parts of their self-defense journey. Complicating the matter further, there’s no standardized concealed carry permit application process across all 50 states. There are also many states where the question of how to get a concealed carry permit isn’t one that people even have to ask themselves. There are 27 states that have passed permitless carry, which allows residents who meet the necessary requirements to carry a firearm without a license. It’s important to note that there are restrictions and requirements in every state regarding who can carry and where, as well as how firearms may be carried, regardless of whether a license to carry is required or not. This is why it’s crucial to educate yourself on the specific laws in your area whenever you decide to carry a concealed firearm.
Can Anyone Carry a Handgun or Are There State Applicant Requirements?
Each state determines their own permitting requirements, but there are some federal laws that impact whether someone is eligible to even possess a firearm, let alone carry one. For the most part, if someone is unable to walk into a gun store and legally purchase a handgun, they won’t meet the applicant requirements to carry a concealed firearm set forth by any issuing authority in any state. Generally, and in no particular order, the person applying for the concealed carry permit will need to complete the application for the permit, submit to a background check, pay an application fee, and possibly complete some type of firearms training. Something else that needs to be considered is how your state laws regarding the application process are structured.
Some states, known as permitless carry or constitutional carry states, have no application process at all. These states allow residents, and in some instances nonresidents, to carry a concealed firearm in accordance with the applicable state laws with no application process and no license to carry required. It’s important to remember that even though permitless carry states don’t require a permit, they still have laws governing how and where firearms can be carried.
Other state laws require that permits shall be issued to every qualified applicant. These states are known as “shall-issue” states. The application process may look slightly different in each shall-issue state, and there are a number of shall-issue states that still provide the issuing authority with limited discretion on which applicants receive a permit.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, there were multiple states that left the ultimate decision of who received a carry permit up to the issuing authority. Qualified applicants who met the permit requirements—and also demonstrated a special need or proper cause to carry a gun—may have been issued a concealed carry permit. These states are known as “may-issue” states. Who did and didn’t receive a permit in a may-issue state would depend on a number of oftentimes arbitrary factors, and the application process could be extremely difficult. Certain may-issue states, such as Hawaii, issued so few carry permits to those who applied that many considered it an outright ban on concealed carry. Connecticut and Delaware are the only remaining may-issue states.
Are State Permitting Policies & Issuing Authorities the Same Everywhere?
While there are many states that handle things in a similar fashion, there’s no uniform permitting policy across the country. Issuing authorities across states also vary, including local law enforcement agencies, sheriff’s offices, and state police issuing permits depending on the jurisdiction. The state laws regarding permitting policies and issuing authorities can usually be found on the webpage for each state’s attorney general. If you have questions regarding your state’s concealed carry permitting process or issuing authority, check with an Independent Program Attorney to make sure you have the most up-to-date information available.