Concealed Carry Laws: 5 Common Myths

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 23, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Concealed carry laws are a hot topic, as the nation reels from a series of recent mass shootings. But concealed handgun laws have also led to some common misconceptions.

Laws in 49 states and Washington, D.C., allow certain citizens to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon (often referred to as "CCW"); only Illinois does not, according to the website USA Carry.

With the aim of clearing the air, here are five common myths about concealed carry laws:

Myth No. 1: You can carry your gun anywhere.

Not true. Concealed carry laws vary by state, but some places are off-limits even to permit holders. This includes U.S. government property, where guns are prohibited by federal law. Some states also prohibit concealed guns on school grounds, at courthouses, at places that serve alcohol, at places of worship, and on private property where guns are prohibited by the owner.

Myth No. 2: You don't need handgun training.

In fact, many state laws require proof of basic gun-skills training in order to receive a concealed carry permit. Evidence of equivalent experience, like military training, can also suffice.

Myth No. 3: You don't need to carry proof of your permit.

This may be true when you're in your own home or place of business, but otherwise most states require anyone who is carrying a concealed weapon to also carry their permit or license, along with a valid photo ID.

Myth No. 4: You can conceal your gun, even from law enforcement.

In general, concealed carry permit holders must show proof to any law enforcement agent upon request. While some states like Wisconsin don't otherwise explicitly require CCW disclosure, the state's Justice Department strongly recommends always disclosing the location of a concealed weapon along with your permit in any law-enforcement interaction.

Myth No. 5: You are free to travel with your concealed gun.

Not quite. Each state's laws are different, and can impose requirements on how guns are transported -- for example, in a secured holster or in a closed container while driving. CCW permit holders must also disclose guns and follow certain procedures at airports, and should also know which other states recognize CCW permits issued under their state's concealed carry law.

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