As more and more states move to what is known as “constitutional carry” — as in, adults who are not criminals may legally carry concealed firearms without a state-issued permit — it raises a few important questions:
If you don’t have to get a concealed carry permit, then why would you? Come to think of it, why would you ever even go to a firearms training class?
Because the training is still valuable, that’s why. Good training will help keep you out of trouble. All sorts of trouble — everything from the wrong people and things getting shot to making the wrong move and ending up in legal hot water. Quality training literally saves lives.
As of publication, 18 states currently allow constitutional carry (and you can read about the gun laws of every state right here.) The remaining states have a wide range of firearms training requirements. For example, in my home state of Wisconsin, I did not have to seek out any training of any kind in order to get a concealed carry permit. That’s because I had completed a hunter’s safety course when I was 12. That was seen as enough.
Enough Firearms Training?
It was “enough” for the state to issue me a permit. With that permit, I could not be cited for possessing a concealed firearm without the proper certification. But I would no more say that hunter’s safety education was “sufficient training” for carrying a firearm for self-defense than most any of the other credentials that Wisconsin accepts, such as a DD-214.
Sure, hunting and military service both involve firearms. But the one involves firearms in a sporting capacity, and the other involves firearms in a military capacity. It isn’t that I’m looking down on either of those certifications; far from it. It’s that I’m positive neither of them are sufficient training for the extremely specific area of private-citizen self-defense and the myriad laws surrounding that topic.
Yes, your right to carry a concealed firearm is specifically enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. No, I do not think that anyone should have to pay a single penny or fill out a single form in order to exercise that right. And no, I do not believe any virtue-signaling do-gooder who wants to show everyone that he’s the world’s most responsible gun owner should be able to force you or me to pay a fee, take a class or otherwise “show our papers” before we exercise what I consider to be a right that exists merely because we are human beings.
But that’s the politicky, government-y side of this. That’s not the reality side.
Concealed Carry Permits in Permitless States
If you intend to carry a firearm for self-defense, it is essential that you get the proper firearms training to do so. The legal realities alone are more than any hunter’s safety course or even the average 20-year military career will teach you. You absolutely, positively must understand the circumstances under which you may legally employ deadly force in defense of self or others. You need to be familiar with how the legal system will react to and process your use of deadly force. You have to know, to a certainty, that you are acting in good faith and within the bounds of the law before you even put your hand on that firearm to draw. And a few trips to the range to ensure your competency with the sidearm you intend to carry should be the beginning of your training journey, not the end.
On top of all of that, your state might not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but you might visit a state that requires such a permit. Would you like to legally carry a gun when you travel? If you play your cards right, you can get a few permits (one issued by your state of residence and then a few non-resident permits from states like Utah and Florida), and you’ll be good to carry in all but the most restrictive of states. The simple fact of the matter remains that if your state offers one, you should apply for and maintain a concealed carry permit if for no other reason than it will likely make travel far simpler.
No Easy Answers
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association believes that you should seek out as much legal, practical and tactical training as you can regardless of whether your state requires you to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Removing the state-mandated requirement for training does not absolve you of the responsibilities for your actions. You will not be adequately prepared to carry concealed until you know the laws surrounding armed private-citizen self-defense, and how can you know the laws surrounding the use of deadly force without effective training?
Personally, I demand that our federal and state governments stop interfering with your natural-born right to self-defense.
But I implore you to exercise those rights with both eyes open, and that means you should get training whether you are required to or not.