I admit it: I haven’t always been the most proactive when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of concealed carry and self defense law. When I first received my permit, I learned enough to know where I could carry my firearm, but that was pretty much it. Unfortunately, ignorance isn’t bliss. It could land you in jail. It might mean hesitation in a self defense situation when milliseconds matter. With some effort on the part of a L2C (License to Carry) permit holder, a firm grasp of the law is attainable, and necessary, for functional and safe concealed carry.
Since 2013, when Illinois finally joined the party, all 50 states have recognized right-to-carry in some capacity (albeit highly restricted in New York, California, New Jersey, and others). Since all states have different laws, you need to concern yourself with the state you reside in and any states you travel to. The NRA-ILA.org homepage has a great tool for researching your state’s gun laws. I’ve referenced the NRA-ILA in a previous article about traveling interstate with a firearm.
Don’t carry on Federal property as the Federal government prohibits civilian concealed or open carry on federal facilities and lands, punishable by up to 1 year in federal prison. It is required that firearm restrictions be posted at the facility, but I’d advise against relying on this, for obvious reasons.
One very important yet surprisingly overlooked aspect of concealed carry law is knowing when you can legally meet force with force. Does your state have castle doctrine? Stand your ground laws? What can you do if your life isn’t directly threatened, but a family member’s is? What about a stranger’s? The answers to these questions need to come as second nature. Just as we train to achieve muscle memory with a firearm, knowing when to act must be instantaneous. If the law and your moral code are disjointed, you need to know ahead of time where you stand and what action you will take, and know the consequences of that action.
For those new to concealed carry, take some time to familiarize yourself with your state’s law. For the seasoned veteran, a refresher may be in order. It’s your responsibility to know the law.