How to get a concealed carry permit

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?

gunEach 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 requirementsand also demonstrated a special need or proper cause to carry a gunmay 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?

permit formWhile 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. 

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How Do I Find Out if I Meet the Federal Concealed Carry Requirements?                                                             

Unless you fall under the provisions of H.R. 218, there’s nothing that acts as a federal concealed carry permit and H.R. 218 itself isn’t a concealed carry permit. H.R. 218, also known as the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (18 U.S.C. § 926), allows specific qualifying individuals, namely current or retired law enforcement officers, the ability to carry most firearms concealed despite any state or local law. It’s important to note that there are specific requirements to be eligible for H.R. 218, and H.R. 218 doesn’t generally allow an individual carrying a firearm to ignore state or local laws concerning where it’s legal to possess a firearm inside of the state. 

Should I Still Take a Concealed Carry Course from a Law Enforcement Officer if It Isn’t Required for the Application Process?  


If you decide to pursue a license to carry, it’s a good idea to seek as much education as your resources allow, even if a training class isn’t required. A good concealed carry class will include state-specific information regarding use of force law, as well as helpful lessons on how to safely incorporate a firearm into your life. Whether it’s misunderstanding use of force law during an incident, or a gun accidentally firing, mistakes involving a gun come with the potential for life-altering consequences. 

The potential for life-altering consequences is why well-prepared gunowners choose a membership with U.S. LawShield® to help provide them peace of mind. U.S. LawShield members enjoy access to our non-emergency helpline, where Independent Program Attorneys answer firearm or use of force law related questions, a 24/7/365 attorney-answered emergency hotline, and more. 

How to Get a Concealed Carry Permit FAQ’s

The actual cost of obtaining a concealed carry permit varies from state to state and depends on if there are additional fees to own a gun where you live. 

In a legal sense, the safest way to transport a firearm if you don’t have a concealed carry permit is to keep it unloaded and cased in the trunk or back storage area of your vehicle. If possible, keep it in a place that’s inaccessible from the passenger compartment. It’s also a good idea to keep ammunition separate from the gun at all times. Keep in mind, certain states have strict laws regarding carrying a firearm in your car, so it’s imperative to review and know the laws of any state you’ll be traveling through. 

The simple answer is no. While H.R. 218 exempts certain qualifying individuals from some local and state prohibitions on the carrying of concealed firearms, there’s no federal concealed carry permit. 


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The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.