We’re living in the land of the free, a country that provides us with the right to bear arms. But with great power comes great responsibility, and keeping up your concealed carry permit is a huge responsibility. In order to safely carry, there are certain laws you should know and permits you should obtain (depending on the state). This can be a complicated process, but we’re here to help you navigate through the weeds. Check out our five must-know facts about getting your concealed carry permit and keeping it up-to-date.


1. There are varying levels of difficulty to get a permit.

There are four variations of concealed carry laws. In the past, “restricted” states made it impossible to carry a concealed weapon. To date, all of the restricted concealed carry laws have been ousted. Every single state in this great country has some type of law allowing our citizens their given right to bear arms. Let’s take a look at the other three capacities. “Shall issue” means there is a set criteria for concealed carry. If citizens can check off the criteria, they are allowed a concealed carry permit. The criteria can vary from state. “May issue” is where requirements become slightly muddied. Much like “shall issue” laws, there is a set criteria in place to receive a concealed carry permit. However, just because somebody meets that criteria does not mean they are guaranteed a permit. Whoever is issuing the permit can choose to either award or deny the permit. “Unrestricted” means anybody in that state can carry a concealed weapon and no permit is required. Check out the current concealed carry law for your state:


2. One nation, divided by laws: Know your state.

Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule detailing a set fee or amount of years that your permit is valid. Some states require renewing every five years, some can last eight years. Many states charge a larger fee the first time you apply for concealed carry, and a lesser fee when renewing. For example, some states have a $100 fee for the first time applying and a $50 fee after that, but there is no federal law reflecting the amount charged. The length of permit also varies, with some states issuing permits valid for five years, some for eight. Your state may require demonstration that you’re competent to carry a firearm, such as a certificate of training. You’ll also need to provide fingerprints and could be subjected to undergo a background check. Each application process is a little bit different, so we can’t stress enough to know your state.


3. Your gun isn’t the only thing you should carry.

Much like a driver’s license to your car, you never want to be caught without your concealed carry permit when you have your gun. Think of your firearm and your permit as one. Might we add that concealed carry backpacks make a convenient and safe place to also store your concealed carry permit? Just saying.


4. There are places you can’t take your gun, even with a permit.

Despite each state having their own laws about where you can and cannot carry, there are some federal laws restricting concealed carry in specific locations. Federal buildings, for example, are off limits for concealed carry. Plus, while many states allow concealed carry in certain areas, it is against federal law to have a concealed weapon past security checkpoints.


5. Reciprocity could allow your state’s concealed carry laws to apply while traveling.

Never assume that your state’s laws apply to another state. However, there are cases where this can be true. Reciprocity means that the state will recognize other states’ concealed carry laws. There are also varying degrees, with partial reciprocity, vehicle-only laws and more. Check your state government site, as well as any state’s government site where you’re traveling to ensure you’re properly and safely carrying a concealed weapon.

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that laws are constantly evolving and they’re in place to keep us safe while giving us our right to bear arms. Stay up-to-date on your permit and don’t forget to regularly demonstrate and refresh your knowledge of gun safety.