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According to our recent survey, slightly more than half of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia carry concealed. Unfortunately, our survey didn’t reveal how many of our readers could get a license to carry but haven’t done so. To this group, I offer the same admonition Woody gave his Toy Story compatriots about moving buddies: if you don’t have one, get one. It’s absolutely critical that you do this now . . .

Many if not most firearms folk make a slow transition from “I don’t need to carry a gun” to “maybe I should carry a gun” to “I’ll get a license to carry a gun.” But that’s not always how it goes down. Concealed (or open) carry can go from being a good idea to a life-or-death necessity in the blink of an eye.

I’m not talking about a sudden random attack or unforeseen home invasion. Then it really is too late. I’m talking about an ongoing threat that you can see coming—but you didn’t see coming until it came. In other words, the sudden realization that you’re at risk of a violent attack from someone you know.

Crimes of passion? Psycho-burger on parade? Call it what you will. It only takes one nutcase to turn your life from Paul Simon’s Was a Sunny Day into Michael Sembello’s Maniac. A deeply disgruntled customer, obsessed co-worker, jealous business partner, jilted lover, jilted lover’s spouse or a crazy ass welder/dancer can ruin your whole day. In a big way.

Sometimes it IS the bus you see coming that kills you; you need to be ready to carry before these threats arrive. You need to slip a gun into a holster the moment life-threatening danger looms large in your life. You need to be ready, willing and able to defend your life and/or the lives of your loved ones.

See the problem? In these post-Obama, post-Supreme Court Heller and McDonald decision days, many states can’t cope with the influx of concealed carry license apps. New Hampshire, for example, is well over its statutory processing limit. Even in states where civil servants are reasonably responsive, delays are possible if not probable.

If you’re unfortunate enough to live in a state with numerous hurdles to legal carry, if you somehow fall afoul of bureaucratic ineptitude, every day you wait for your license—and it could be months—is going to be hell. (Could be your last, in fact.) Situational awareness is all well and good, but constantly looking over your shoulder for a lethal threat, unarmed, is not my idea of fun.

Also remember that a “liberal” licensing regime can change with the political winds. In Rhode Island (a “shall issue” state where “shall” means “may”), the number of licenses granted depends entirely on the political leanings of the Attorney General. A controversy about a defensive gun use could inspire the AG to clamp down on concealed weapons permits like a hungry croc on a well-fed wildebeest.

[NB: Several states also have a “cooling off” period between a gun sale and delivery. If you don’t have a carry piece (or a gun period) there’s another period of time when you could be SOL armed self-defense wise.]

Of course, you could carry illegally—and run the risk of arrest, incarceration (removing your ability to protect your loved ones) and the permanent loss of your gun rights. Not to put too fine a point on it, that would really suck.

Bottom line: it’s best to get your carry license now in case you need it later—regardless of whether you carry or not. And by “you” I mean you, the guy who reads The Truth About Guns and “you” another adult in your household. Sharing may be caring but I don’t think the DA will see it that way.

As stated above, society benefits from your license as well. I’ve met plenty of people who have a carry license because they know that exercising a right is the best way to protect it. So what are you waiting for? And do us all a favor: spread the word.

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    • mdc: I suppose the level of “revenue racket” depends on where you live. In Florida, the money paid for carry permits goes into a specific trust fund to cover the costs of the administration. The permit fee here was lowered last year, because the trust fund had been running a surplus for 3 years running. Because of the way the laws are written, they couldn’t just redirect the extra money, so the fee had to be lowered. Here, they’re not generating revenue, they’re covering costs.

  1. Ill offer an addendum to this:if you live in a state like Illinois or New Jersey where ownership of a handgun requires a state-issued permit, GET ONE.

    While CCW may be out of the question legally for millions of gun owners in America, it is still a very wise idea to get an ownership permit and keep it active just in case. If the balloon goes up and you need a pistol quick fast and a hurry, its going to really suck waiting 90 days for the State Police to process a purchase ID .

  2. “Bottom line: it’s best to get your carry license now in case you need it later—regardless of whether you carry or not”

    True. Such are my thoughts. Robert, kudos to you for the picture. I like the caption: ‘stay abreast of cc laws’.

    Yesterday, I rode my bicycle through a wilderness area past horses, sheep, chickens, and dogs. There was sign of deer scat. I found myself thinking that this would a great place for a hungry mountain lion to find a meal. Then it occurred to me that I was unarmed and I could also make a meal for a hungry cat. Yet another reason for cc.

  3. I watched Red Dawn last night for the 1st time in 10 years. The poignant part was the introduction describing crop failures, removal of missle defense systems from europe, Mexican Revolution et. al. and when Powers Booth described the physical invasion of the USA. So what am I getting at? The things NOT mentioned in the movie, social chaos, terrorist attacks on civilians.
    Get your permit

  4. To back up your point about waiting periods. In california we have a 10 day wait on all guns, not just pistols. With the purchase of a pistol you have to have a valid handgun safety certificate, which is easy to get but is 1 more step in the process.
    If you have no gun at all and live hear it’s time to quit straddling the fence and get active in your own self defense.

    Also, make sure that you buy pepper spray as well as your firearm and ammo. I seem to be a magnate for large loose dogs, mostly pit bulls and the pepper spray is a real +.

  5. Great point Robert.

    A CCW license or FOID, if required, are essential tools for self defense. CCW is still an individuals informed choice make. The permit ensures you are better prepared and have options in a potential SHTF scenario.

  6. Regarding the picture; That is going to hurt. A lot. The first time I shot from the hip, pulled it in real tight like that, the slide punched right into my lower free floating ribs…. I thought for sure one of them was broken. I can’t imagine getting ‘slide-punched’ in the boobie.

  7. “Of course, you could carry illegally—and run the risk of arrest, incarceration (removing your ability to protect your loved ones) and the permanent loss of your gun rights. Not to put too fine a point on it, that would really suck.”

    A friend of mine did this before he turned 21 and was able to legally get a permit.

    The state had no problem with an 18 – 20 year old registering for the draft to potentially fight in a war, or actually becoming a soldier and having access to automatic weapons. Or even becoming a cop. But a young private citizen carrying for self-defense?

    “Well, kid, you’re outta luck. And if we catch you you’re getting a felony charge and going to prison for a year.”

    What kind of state would put a non-violent person in prison with a bunch of rapists, murderers, thieves etc. just for carrying a firearm for self-defense? Ask yourself that.

    My disdain for government and for law enforcement began then.

    • BTW that is what I call the “illusion of freedom.”

      You can carry a gun but if you don’t pay us $350 bucks to do it and jump through hoops you’re going to prison.

      That’s not a right. That’s a privilege. The state is acting as an extortionist running a racket and the law enforcers, in this case, are their Fat Tony-esque soldiers.

    • What I always had a problem with is you can join the military at age 17 and be trusted with fully automatic weapons and keeping your squadmates alive, but you can’t buy a personal firearm in the US by yourself unless you’re 21.

      The only difference between a 17 year-old handling a gun in the military and a 17 year-old handling a gun in their own home or on the range in the US is boot camp and the required firearms training the military provides. Well, why not just offer the equivalent firearms training for civilians that want to purchase a firearm starting at age 17 (with parental consent) and at age 18 (of their own accord)?

      Obviously, the work around is teaching and training your kids at a young age as a responsible parent. But if you are considered an adult at 18 years old, why do you have to wait till you’re 21? Seems a bit weird to me that you can own a gun at the same age you’re allowed to consume alcohol….

      • In FL you can’t buy a handgun from a retailer unless you’re 21. But you can from a private party when you’re 18. And you can possess and own one too. So, it’s weird.

        Rifles and shotguns are 18+

      • Brewski, don’t even get me started. I enlisted when I was 17. A lot of things I couldn’t legally do because of my age. Used to piss me off to no end.

  8. Many people think the 2A is their carry permit and see no reason to “play the game” with permits and licenses. To each his own, just be aware laws exist on the books which may be contrary to what you think or even the Constitution, but you’re going to jail and are free to finance a SCOTUS challenge as a result.

    Go one or two steps more and relocate from gun free zones and cities to places where you have the option to protect yourself. Vote with your feet and wallet, leaving behind the naive folks who trust 911 but not their fellow citizens for defense.

    • “leaving behind the naive folks who trust 911 but not their fellow citizens for defense.”

      This isn’t entirely a fair statement to make. How is the average citizen going to distinguish a CCW holder from a BG? Especially in a dynamic critical situation? The only thing they will focus on is “GUN GUN GUN”.

      And why should anyone assume a CCW holder will safe their life? CCW holders are first and foremost trained to avoid situations they aren’t directly involved in. They’re not rambo. They aren’t being paid nor are they empowered by the state or govt. to intervene in any sort of indirect dynamic critical incident. As stated on this site numerous times, drawing your gun may cause you more harm than good even if you do the right thing.

      Secondly, CCW holders are typically trained to only draw their weapon if their life is being directly threatened. To minimize what I just brought up about potentially getting themselves into legal trouble.

      Third, not all CCW holders are Sheepdogs, nor are they police officers. I think too many pro-2Aers assume that every CCW is a born-again Sheepdog with superhuman threat assessment abilities and training. Sorry but that’s just not the case. They’re just average people that may or may not have training above that of your typical law enforcement officer.

      The fact is, just because someone owns a firearm doesn’t mean they’re as “into it” as you are. There is no required “boot camp” for CCW holders, and I wish there was.

      I, for one, am very happy that there are Sheepdogs among the CCW crowd and that many CCW holders will actually attempt to intervene even when they are not actively threatened to help out someone else because they are willing. However, sometimes that makes the situation worse (ie. the cops arrive and think they’re the BG). So to just make statements that assume CCW holders will defend the average citizen as if that’s the status quo isn’t realistic.

      I go to the range pretty often and I’m surprised if I see even 50% of the people there using correct form / grip and less than 10% shooting tight controlled groups. Granted, half of them probably don’t own a gun for self-defense, they may just own a gun because “it’s cool” or strictly for “fun” and have no real desire to really be proficient in accuracy or gun-fighting.

      So no, armed civilians aren’t “better” than law enforcement necessarily. The only advantage CCWers have is they typically don’t open carry nor do they wear a badge in plain view so they don’t attract the attention of the BG. Oh, and they sometimes find themselves in situations where the cops aren’t around and they can maybe stop a potential crime from happening (or stop it from getting worse).

      Just because CCWers are around is not a guarantee innocent people will be safe, it more of a guarantee that BGs will most likely be shot at and/or killed if they choose poorly and attempt to make victims out of CCWers or put them in harm’s way without knowing it.

      I’m all for everyone that is willing to be a CCW holder to take whatever training is necessary to be proficient so criminals will think twice about any victim.

  9. I am planing on getting a CCW as soon as Maryland allows people to get one. Hopefully that will be sometime next year. Mean while I plan to get one in PA since I go in that state from time to time and they have a process for non-resisdent CCW.


    • Every county has different rules, and even processes. I’ve also seen different permits for Chester and Montgomery county.

      Chester county will not issue to out of state people, but Delaware county does. Go to Media PA and you should be able to get a permit.

  10. I am such a HAPPY CAMPER, I live in Arizona, (yeah it’s hot) but Az. is open/conceled carry state, and if you want a Permit here is the Prices;
    Fee Schedule for AZ , , CWP Classes:
    $85.00 Class fee (collected by class, prior to, OR during class)
    $60.00 AZ State fee (mailed to the state of Arizona),
    $145.00 Total –

    • Be glad its Arizona. Texas is most likely the most expensive state in which to get a CHL.

      But to a another point not yet pointed out, the more gun licenses issued will show the feds that the citizens do not wish to be disarmed. A irrefutable track record of the support of the 2A. The amount of evidence with the population everywhere getting their permits would be overwhelming that the majority wishes to keep the 2A could not be denied by any politician.

  11. I’m still baffled at the whole anti-gun stance.

    There has never been a case of a law-abiding citizen shooting people. There have only been cases of crazy people and criminals shooting people. Or in regards to war, soldiers and combants killing other soldiers or combatants.

    So why are law-abiding citizens being portrayed as the BG if they own a gun? By definition, if you willfully choose to break the law and attack another human being, you are no longer a law-abiding citizen, you are a felon, or a criminal, or a murderer. Most of the time, it can be assumed you’re completely crazy at the time as well.

    If all guns are root of all evil and apparently make their operators evil, well guess we can’t have any police or military, let alone armed civilians.

    Then everyone will resort to knives. When knives are banned, people will use rocks. When rocks are banned, people will resort to fists. And then what then? How will you ban fists?

    When we’re a bunch of floating heads in jars, we’ll realize it’s back to square one. Criminals and crazy people are the root of evil. Not whatever tool happens to be the great equalizer of the times.

  12. why do we need permission to carry concealed? BGs don’t ask permission. They dont jump through hoops and pay the troll tolls. We need more support for ‘constitutional’ carry. 200 hundred years ago if some tax feeder in dc, newyork, chicago or elsewhere told us we needed their permission to carry our own guns, we would have told them to go fawk themselves.

  13. Better yet, get two or more. After you get your state’s resident permit, get a non-resident permit from Utah or Florida, and add a bunch of other states to your list of places where you can carry concealed. My Washington permit gets me 24 other states by itself. When I added the Utah non-resident permit, I gained another eight states.

    Ideally, no permits would be required, but at least this way you can get a big chunk of the country covered with just a few.

  14. It will either be a cold day in hell day or monkeys will fly out my azz before San Diego County issues a CCW for personal protection
    Might get one if you are “special/privileged”

    • For fvck’s sake, man! You’ve got the whole internet, and here you are on TTAG trolling for bewbies? I think I learned something…

  15. Don’t know about other states, but Idaho recognizes carry permits from every other state that issues them. My Idaho permit is recognized by every state I drive through on the way to see family back east – except the People’s Republic of Illinois.

    Another advantage of a carry permit – at least in Idaho – is that an FFL dealer is not required to call the FBI NICS check line when you buy a gun. He just writes your permit number on the form, and you are good to go. REALLY makes dealers happy at gun shows, and saves you a bunch of time when the FBI phone lines are running slow.

    As far as a carry permit putting me on “the list” when the next civil war starts – hey, I’m an Army vet, a member of the NRA, have a Master’s degree, write letters to the editor expressing conservative views, own an evil ATV and drive a gas-guzzling pickup. I’m already on so many lists, one more won’t matter.

  16. Thank you Robert, another well written article!
    I can’t tell you how much my currently OC’ing family enjoy your posts and even my thick skull usually manages to learn something.
    We’ll all be CCW’s within the year.


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