My Arkansas concealed-carry license has just about run its five-year course, so I need to renew. Arkansas is a shall-issue, permitless carry state with concealed weapons permits being issued at the state level by the Department of Public Safety.
Handgunlaw.us says Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia have permitless carry.This means anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry concealed in these states without a permit or license. North Dakotaand Wyoming have permitless carryfor their residents only.
If you as a Gun Talk follower are fortunate enough to live in one of these states, you might be wondering about the benefits of requesting a state permit. The obvious objection to asking governmental permission to get a permit is that it flies in the face of the Second Amendment, but such are the times. In granting a permit, the state then is aware of you as a gun owner and your address.
Since I live in rural Arkansas, why would I want to get a CCW license and spend money for a class and state fees when my state offers constitutional (permitless) carry with no license, permit or cost?
Having lived in several states and obtaining CCW permits there, I offer some ideas for consideration. If you have training and confidence in handling your EDC firearm and don’t need or want a state permit, at least weigh some of my reasons to get one or not.
From CCW classes I’ve taken in New Mexico, Missouri and Arkansas, the content of classes ranges from excellent to dismal, and cost may not be relevant to knowledge and skill you take home from a class. In the three states I noted, each class cost was $100. Lots of cost associated with not much content in some classes and lengthy to minimal range time in some.
Classes pass along basic state laws regarding use of defensive weapons, so that is a plus you might not get elsewhere unless you do some digging (tons of info on the Internet as you know). Arkansas, for example, has a ”duty to retreat” while Missouri does not and the “castle doctrine” is present in both. Know the differences and understand what the terms mean.
Initial classes generally range in length from a few hours (Missouri and Arkansas) to most of two days (as did my class in New Mexico).
Classes generally require you to fire weapons you plan to carry, and may call for firing revolver and semi-auto if both fall in your EDC plans.
New Mexico required me to fire the largest-caliber pistol or revolver I planned to carry to qualify for those and smaller calibers. That made my choice of .38 Special/.357 Mag revolver and .45 ACP easy.
Some classes call for shooting at paper targets or a potential threat, such as a pretend perpetrator with a weapon that the class instructor may offer as a scenario. Some instructors simply ask you to point your weapon downrange without any target, and touch off several rounds so you at least pull the trigger.
For each class, the instructor generally will tell you what firearms and how much ammo to bring or if. My Missouri instructor provided the ammo. He supplied .38 Special, but unfortunately he had no .45 ACP for my Glock, so I got relegated to his .22 Long Rifle Sig Mosquito. Unusual with Sigs I’ve shot, the pistol regularly failed to extract. Good practice for clearing jams and stovepipes I guess!
Classes I’ve taken used up 100 rounds per weapon or fewer than five or six. In New Mexico, I had to draw, fire, reload and re-holster to show at least some proficiency in those tasks with revolver and pistol. Qualification also included paper target accuracy to pass the class, and firing weapons with unsupported strong hand and weak hand. Great training!
To obtain your first state CCW, you generally will need to submit an approved set of fingerprints for a background check along with an application. Instructors can guide you to sources of fingerprinting, which may be free through local law enforcement.
Being a CCW licensee can offer benefits such as dealing with 4473 forms as you’ve already completed the required background check.
Your permit also may offer reciprocity with other states, an important consideration if you travel and intend to carry as I do. Unless you travel in permitless states mentioned earlier, there may be no reciprocity without your state permit.
If you know others who have taken a class, ask their thoughts. Where I live, class choices can mean windshield time. It’s tough to find solid classes without many facts or opinions at hand. You often can use the Internet and links to find instructors.
Whether or not you get a state permit, do stay current on CCW and firearms laws as change does happen. My guess is that we all will see more pressure to restrict our Second-Amendment rights on the local and state levels, and we’ve got unending talk in Congress about that issue as well.
Some states allow open carry, only concealed carry or both. In this article, I chose not to open that can of worms, although good topics for weighing the pros and cons later on. In the meantime, keep informed, consider situational awareness, carry where and when you can, and stay safe, be prepared. ~ Mike
Mike Sampson Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.
He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications, with minors in mourning dove, chukar partridge, pheasant and mountain quail on the breaks of the Snake River.
While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts.
In addition, Mike is a Federal Emergency Management Agency certified instructor and has worked and taught for state and federal agencies. He has responded to seven presidentially declared disasters, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria when they struck Puerto Rico in 2017. He also has worked and taught in Africa and Southeast Asia. Check his website at www.sampsonrisk.com.