In the rush of excitement of finally receiving your concealed carry permit or license, you’re likely looking forward into heading out into the world with the ability to legally protect yourself with a handgun concealed on your person.
However, in most states that require a permit, they also require you to be able to produce that permit upon request by law enforcement. There are even some states that can have your permit subject to revocation and potential criminal charges if you are unable to produce it while carrying.
So what do you do if you’re pulled over and you realize you don’t have your concealed carry permit on you?
The best solution we advocate is be up front.
Many states, like Texas, link your concealed handgun license (CHL) to your driver’s license or state-issued identification card. In Texas, you’re obliged to let the officer know you’re carrying on first contact at a traffic stop. Being up front with the officer and letting him know that while you were issued a valid permit, you cannot produce it is, in many cases, the best way to avoiding a bad situation.
While some may advocate that you simply say nothing and stay put throughout the police interaction, if your identity and driving record is linked to your concealed carry permit, you can put yourself in hot water with that officer.
In states like Georgia the officer is not allowed to detain you to verify your lawful carriage of a concealed handgun.
(b) A person carrying a weapon shall not be subject to detention for the sole purpose of investigating whether such person has a weapons carry license.
That is VERY specific to Georgia. So, ultimately, it is your call as to how you choose to proceed. Law enforcement officers generally appreciate knowing whether the person they are interacting with is armed or not. And we are not going to advocate for you to do anything that would either be potentially incriminating or avoiding the law.
If you’re NOT interacting with law enforcement and, for whatever reason, discover you left your concealed carry permit at home or at work, try to head back to recover it. This may be inconvenient but it is assuredly less so than having to interact with law enforcement without having it available.
Now, if you’re in a state that requires no permit to carry openly, you may just be better off open carrying until you can get to where ever your permit is located.
If you are in a state where your permit is reciprocated BUT you do not have it on you, it is highly advised that you unload your firearm and safely store it in a place you cannot access it until you can get your permit in-hand. If you are stopped during this time, so long as you are directly heading to get your permit, you are most likely protected under FOPA — so long as the firearm is unloaded and stored in a place you cannot readily access it.
Does all this sound a bit excessive and inconvenient? You sure bet. But we’re also trying to be responsible and accountable and part of that is obliging the law of the land. Ultimately, use your judgement and proceed accordingly.
Before the problem gets to this level, here are a couple checks we always recommend concealed carriers do before heading out the door.
- Physically check to make sure you have your concealed carry permit in your wallet or purse.
- Place it in a well known slide in your wallet so you always know where to go to get it.