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.

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