ScreenHunter 39 Jan 09 12 02

What Would Your Response Be To A Person Who Carries A Firearm Without The Required Permit?


We’ve gotten a few private messages in the past few days via our Facebook page concerning concealed carriers operating without a permit, leaving their permit at home, or knowing someone who is operating without a permit.  We’ve been asked to weigh in — so we will.

If you live in a state that requires you to have a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm outside of your property, you should keep that permit on you while carrying.  And, as we hope you carry everyday, every where permitted by law — that pretty much means your permit stays on your person.

Now, of course there’s states like Texas where law enforcement officers can see whether or not you are properly permitted for CHL just by checking out your license or registration.  For states that cooperate their concealed carry permit applicants with their driving records, that’s a great fail-safe to ensure law enforcement officers (and carriers themselves) stay safe in interactions.

Law enforcement may not like that you don’t have your permit on you when they have an interaction with you about your concealed firearm.*

*Constitutional carry states, we’re not talking about you in this capacity.

Constitutional carry refers to states that do not require permits for their residents to carry a concealed firearm.  In Alaska, a resident with a concealed firearm has a duty to inform the police officer of the presence of that firearm during an interaction.  In Georgia, not yet a constitutional carry state, the concealed carrier has no specific obligation to inform the officer but IS required to keep his permit on him.

In a state like Illinois, however, carrying a firearm concealed without both a FOID and the proper permit can result in very serious charges.

Here’s why we always advocate keeping your permit on you:

  • In many states, it’s the law.
  • If you end up in a self-defense situation, it’s one less thing you have to stress about afterwards.

So, ultimately, if you’re waiting on your permit to arrive in the mail and are getting excited to become a concealed carrier: wait it out and wait until you can do it properly with your permit in hand.

Seeing Someone Else Carrying Concealed Without A Permit

As a civilian, you don’t have access to a database with a list of names of every registered concealed carrier in your state.  Ohio used to have a database that could be accessed by media for the purposes of reporting but even that’s come under heavy scrutiny.  So, it’s hard to know who has a legal right to carry and who doesn’t.

Let’s look at two possible scenarios where you may have reason to suspect the person carrying does not have a permit (but ought to):

Someone you personally know to be:

  • A felon
  • Under the legal age to carry a firearm
  • Under indictment for a crime
  • Under a restraining order
  • Has been mentally adjudicated by the state as incompetent
  • Is drunk or under the influence of mind-altering substances
  • In a place they have no legal right to be in with a concealed firearm.


  • Someone who’s said, “I carry and I don’t bother with a permit.”

There’s a few other nuances but ultimately, it’s really hard to determine as a civilian whether the person you see carrying a concealed handgun has a legal right to do so or not.  As such, err on the side of caution.

The most common situation where you will have a reason to interject will be if that person is on your property, behaving poorly, and is either spotted carrying a firearm OR is printing heavily through his clothing.


How you decide to handle the situation is up to you as an individual but we would urge caution and discretion when confronting that situation.  If you have reason to believe this person poses a direct threat to you, others around you, your family, or your property, you are well within your rights to contact the police and have them check it out.  Otherwise, the route of simple diplomacy is always an option.

For instance, let’s pretend you’re having a neighborhood barbeque.  You’ve invited extended family and friends and maybe a friend has brought another friend you’re not familiar with and you see he’s armed.

“Hey man, is your friend permitted to carry?  Do you mind if I see the permit?”

It’s your property.  You have the legal right to make the rules about who comes aboard armed.  You can decide at any point in time that you’re not comfortable with that person being armed on your property.  Handling it diplomatically can dissolve any tensions.

How To Handle “I Carry Without A Permit”*

*In a place where you’re required to have one.

“Badgers?  Badgers?!  BADGERS?!  We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!”

Now, let’s handle the more awkward of the situations.  In a non-Constitutional Carry state, you see someone who audibly states aloud, “I carry concealed and I don’t have a permit.”  Saying something like that aloud, in public (yes, including on social media), demonstrates that person is either okay with being a criminal or really hasn’t thought this through or might know something about your state’s law you don’t.

In the state of New Hampshire, a person is legally allowed to carry a pistol concealed without a permit so long as it is in Condition 4.

159:4 Carrying Without License. – No person shall carry a loaded pistol or revolver in any vehicle or concealed upon his person, except in his dwelling, house or place of business, without a valid license…

If I see someone out in town and I know that person doesn’t have a permit and I ‘spot’ his concealed carry handgun, I can’t assume anything until he says or acts in a way that would lead me to believe he has no reason to be doing that.  If it’s unloaded OR he’s in his place of business or his residence, he’s perfectly fine carrying without a permit in New Hampshire.  If he’s in my place of business, I would ask him first if he has a permit to carry concealed.  If he says, ‘no’, then I’d ask if the concealed gun is loaded.  If it is, I’d ask him to come back when he either has a permit or he’s following the law (which, in essence, would either be unloading the firearm or open carrying).  That’s how I would handle that situation.

Ultimately, using a bit of tact, good observational skills, and holding off on assumptions (until the other person puts his foot in his mouth) can really save a lot of stress when dealing with people who are wittingly or unwittingly breaking the law.

If, at any time, I viewed this person without a permit as a threat, I wouldn’t hesitate to call the police.  I take the safety of myself, my family, and property seriously.

So, how would you handle any of these situations?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Categories: Firearm Safety, General
About James England | View all posts by James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry…

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 36 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his CZ-75D PCR in an Alien Gear MOD holster.

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  • HP

    “Someone who’s said, “I carry and I don’t bother with a permit.”” – my response is, “goodluck and godspeed. If the police catch you, you’ll get arrested.” I would personally have never carried without my permit, but I also live in upstate NY where it can take up to 15 months to get a permit, and a good citizen’s safety shouldn’t be postponed while the red tape is sorted out. So I’d probably wish them the best.

    • disqus_tpc8waQI76

      you all really need to fix your gun laws in that state they are atrocious

  • dragos111

    Illinois law has been changed so a person who has a concealed carry as long as he has that permit in his possession. Carrying the FOID card also is no longer required. The concept behind it was, you had to have a valid FOID to have the carry permit. You have already proved you have that so you do not have to carry it.

    • Frank

      And the Concealed Carry License can be used in place of the FOID at retail establishments that sell ammo or firearms as well.

  • Mike Ogden

    I carry with a permit because it’s fairly painless to obtain and maintain the permit… Should it ever become over regulated, or become banned, I will continue to carry.

    I don’t choose to do it legally because I fear consequences, I choose to carry legally because I’d rather not be bothered with hassle of putting down misguided cops.

    As a non criminal type, I see no value in engaging officers who in general I respect. As long as they view me the same way, we will get along just fine.

  • Theron Keller

    Fortunately, in Virginia, the law was changed a few years ago to decriminalize not having the required Concealed Handgun Permit on your person. You are still required to carry it, and produce it upon demand of a LEO, but if you fail to do so, (but you do HAVE a valid permit), it is a civil penalty, not a crime.

    It should never be a crime to forget your wallet.

  • 4TruthandJustice

    Pragmatic: 1. Unless you have comprehensive knowledge of the pertaining laws where such observation happens, you have little to go on other than (sadly unreliable) “personal feelings.”
    2. I got my first CPL in 1968 – that’s 48 years of carrying concealed. Without a doubt I can honestly say that it’s close to impossible for the average person to be so acutely aware that they see I am carrying a handgun under concealment and that includes visible “printing.” People are absurdly un-observant, it’s the norm for urbanized humans. It’s even been increased by the habitual use of cell phones in public – cell phone users are like blinded prey animals. 3. On the other hand: there are still many people who, at any given time, don’t have access to a phone they can use to report such dangerous behavior indicators as mentioned in the article. Furthermore, I regularly see news reports of situations which clearly show that people don’t even think of calling the police when that’s the first thing that should come to them. 4. Gun free zones: you don’t even know you’ve entered one unless you see a sign and no one really goes through their day looking for such signs. In my state: gun free zones are enforced only under the state trespass law: if you are asked to leave because you’re armed and refuse to, the only legal action available is to call the police to either eject the person or arrest them if they refuse to leave. — Conclusion: If the moment comes when you know the armed person is dangerous, it’s already too late to call the police. You had better be armed yourself because you’ll be the only person able to stop the threat when it appears.

  • The requirements have changed in Illinois. A CCL is all that is needed to be carried when legally carrying a firearm. It is no longer a requirement to carry your FOID in addition to your CCL. Please update this article.

  • Larry Sawyer

    Our founding fathers encoded in their writing of the Constitution the premise that our rights are God given, not govt. given. The creeping encroachment on those rights by passing infringements (not allowed by that Constitution) and allowing them to go unchallenged is an insult. I fortunately live in a state which has not passed infringments on open carry but sadly has seen fit to infringe on concealed carry. I am, more or less, a law abiding individual, absent close scrutiny of my driving habits (which so far have escaped the attention of traffic enforcement). I do, however, advocate all efforts to correct the unlawful and egregious infringments on our God given rights. Civil disobediance, Court challenge, grass roots movements or any other means to return our laws to what they should be. So the answer to the posed question, “What would I do”, absent a percieved threat to my or my loved ones well being, Not a damn thing.

  • Barry Kittay

    I`m retired law enforcement, my opinion is this, unless that person carrying is a threat to anyone, mind your own business! Nobody appointed anybody except law enforcement to uphold
    the law, not a civilian with a permit!

    • disqus_tpc8waQI76

      ever here the word civil arrest that mean any citizen can arrest or detain for law enforcement

      • Barry Kittay

        so? what does that mean, you going to citizen arrest somebody for carrying without a permit? why?

  • Alie Tabooger

    I have a CCW its a pain in the rear and it’s not cheap mine renews in the rainy snow season so I get to spend the day in the snow. I get to have 8 hrs of training every two years. the training is almost useless they have you qualify at 15 yards but tell you most gun fights are at 10 feet. the bottom line in the liberal state of California if you shoot someone and they are not shooting at you first or they are black or they are more than 15 feet away from you you will spend over one hundred thousand dollars to stay out of Jail.and then it will depend on the vegan, LGBT,Prius driving, BLM, Obama supporting, illegal alien, Jurors that Ca is famous for.

  • mak13

    Since I have chosen to forfeit my right to the government so that they can rent it back to me in the form of a permit, that is my problem. If someone else has chosen to freely, at no cost, exercise their right, then good for them. But the second they become an actual threat, I will deal with it.

  • Damocles

    I have a permit but I do live in a Constitutional carry state, so no permits are even required here. It isn’t really an issue.