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What is a Concealed Weapon?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 16, 2024
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A concealed weapon is a weapon carried on or close to the person in a location where it cannot be immediately seen. The weapon may be concealed inside clothing, inside bags, or inside a vehicle. Laws regarding carrying weapons vary from country to country; in the United States, for example, in every state a person must have a special license or permit in order to be legally permitted to carry a concealed weapon.

The precise definition of what constitutes a weapon varies by location. In most jurisdictions, handguns, switchblades, metal knuckles, razors, blackjacks, and other related items are considered to be weapons. Generally, if an item can be used to injure someone, it can be considered a weapon for purposes of concealed carry laws.

Carrying a concealed weapon is usually illegal unless the carrier has required permits under law. In most jurisdictions, the right to carry a concealed or hidden weapon is vested in those with a "concealed carry" license. The requirements for obtaining such a license vary by location.

In some situations, merely having a permit for the weapon and being a citizen or resident is sufficient to permit an individual to carry a weapon on his person, even if the weapon is concealed. In Vermont, for example, no additional permit is required at all, but in other jurisdictions, the rules are more stringent. In jurisdictions that issue additional permits or licenses, the names and requirements of the license differ. For example, in some places, a concealed weapon permit is required, while in others, a "license to carry" is needed.

To obtain a license, certain requirements must be met. Standard rules for a concealed carry permit include being over the age of 18 or 21, depending upon the location. Generally, most places will not allow convicted felons to carry a weapon on their person. Some jurisdictions will also run more extensive background checks before issuing a permit, while the strictest locations require anyone seeking a license to carry and conceal a weapon on his or her person to demonstrate a specific need to do so.

The right to carry and conceal a weapon on the person is limited by other public safety laws. For example, brandishing the weapon in a public location remains illegal. The weapon must also be declared to police or other security officials, and the permit, if required, must be shown upon request.

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Discussion Comments
By akkuikku — On Oct 27, 2013

With the number of violent crimes being committed with weapons, I doubt that the people who were engaged in criminal behavior were carrying permits in the first place.

By anon258401 — On Apr 01, 2012

You all are absolutely right. I think that everyone who carries a weapon should carry it right out in the open for all the world to see.

I guarantee that would reduce crime because the criminals are not going to take the chance that they may end up getting shot. Face it: criminals are cowards.

By anon249540 — On Feb 21, 2012

From the time 'laws' are set, they are enforced for some while others seem lawless. To me, a concealed weapon is like any other tool. If used properly, it's only beneficial and no different than a vehicle.

By anon248072 — On Feb 15, 2012

The right to keep and bear arms was put in to the constitution, so the american people could protect themselves from a tyrannical government or police state as we have today! If you people want to understand what our founding fathers were thinking when they wrote the constitution and what was meant by each article, read The Federalist Papers -- great book! Then post your comment on guns, concealed carry, etc.

By Hawthorne — On Jun 10, 2011

@drtroubles - Agreed -- having the right to bear arms is part of being American, in my humble opinion.

I'm not saying that I would run out and pull a gun on people for anything small. In fact, I hope I would never actually be confronted with a situation in which I would have to use my gun except for the shooting range.

That said, if somebody ever did attack me, I could defend myself. And if this practice was widespread enough that the average citizen could likely have a gun on their person at any given time, don't you think the possibility of being shot would make criminals think twice?

I guess what I'm trying to say is, criminals think of people are unarmed helpless citizens -- easy targets if the criminal has a gun. I think the right to bear arms could help change this perception and make criminals think people are able to defend themselves, if people would only exercise their right to bear arms more than they do now.

By seHiro — On Jun 07, 2011

@Sara007 - I see where you're coming from, but your comment kind of explains exactly why I am all for concealed weapons permits being allowed to citizens.

Concealed weapons has been a hot topic at my college for years. During my stint for nine months as a student journalist and photojournalist, one of the topics that the paper covered was whether students should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon holster similar to the one our security guard carried.

This is the point where your comment comes in. You note that you doubt the criminals had permits, anyway -- so how does taking away permits change the situation with criminal illegal using weapons at all?

In my opinion, the only difference between having concealed gun permits allowed to citizens or not is whether we want criminals out there amongst unarmed civilians or criminals and then people who could defend themselves.

By BoniJ — On Jun 07, 2011

@oscar23 - I agree with you on the "fairness" of our legal system deteriorating. Your example of your two students - one, an honor student with no prior problems, expelled for bringing a nail file to school and the one who pulled the knife and just got a slap on the wrist. Doesn't make sense.

I don't know what to make of serious crime offenders getting lighter sentences to lighten the load on prisons. Something has to be done.

I just think that it is far too easy to get a permit for a concealed weapon.

By tlcJPC — On Jun 07, 2011

I have to say, I just can't understand why we still need concealed weapons. I mean, come on, it's the 21st century, it's not like the majorit of people are out hunting for their daily food. I think that getting rid of all of the guns will get rid of all of the shooting.

By Domido — On Jun 07, 2011

Concealed weapons have always been a part of my family life from the time that I was a child until now. Concealed weapons training was just another thing that we knew would have to happen one day; sort of like getting our license.

I am now a 31 year old woman who has two kids of her own, and I must say that I was a little afraid to have guns and knives around my kids.

However, I also was terrified to be alone without any sort of protection when my husband worked nightshift or while traveling long distances.

We handled the problem of keeping the guns away from our kids by making sure that they were put incredibly high up, completely out of their reach. They are also unloaded, and the ammunition is stored in a separate area.

As far as my husband’s knives go, he keeps them locked away. He only takes them out when he needs them for hunting and fishing.

Having weapons around are just a part of life; the key is to teach your children from an early age to be respectful of these devices. Make sure that they know the difference between a water gun or a cap gun and the real thing. My kids are never allowed to point even their toy guns at anyone else’s face (even if they do not actually shoot anything at all).

After all, almost anything can be turned into a weapon. Are we going to outlaw baseball because ball bats are used? That's highly doubtful.

The trick is to teach appropriate use early on, rather than protecting them from everything that could potentially be harmful at some point. This only serves to make the items more intriguing.

Others with far less good intentions are only going to take advantage of this kind of naiveté .

By B707 — On Jun 07, 2011

@drtroubles - This issue is a tough one. The right to bear arms is a strong tradition in our country. This right became ingrained in American's minds at a time early in our history, when there was little in the way of police services. Crime issues were dealt with by individual guns or vigilante groups.

Today, I think having guns for hunting is fine, as long as you have a valid permit.

I'm not in favor of having anyone be able to carry around a concealed weapon. If you are carrying around a concealed weapon, so often passions can take over and a shooting occurs.It's much too easy for criminal elements to get a permit for guns. If our citizens feel they must have guns to protect themselves, permits must be much harder to get.

By oscar23 — On Jun 07, 2011

I previously worked as an educator, so I completely understand the importance of keeping a handle on concealed weapons. I had a switchblade pulled in my class; one student pulled it on another student, but I was (thankfully) able to defuse the situation.

As such I understand the need to crackdown on concealed weapons both in the school system and in general. However, it seems like this is being done in a very backward and awkward way.

For instance, the child that pulled this switchblade got a slap on the wrist because one more problem on her record would get her expelled. Around the same time an honor student who had never been in trouble in her life was suspended for bringing a finger nail file to school. What?

You see similar things happening out in the ‘real world’ where criminals are being allowed to get by with serious crimes so that they don’t continue to overcrowd the prison system. At the same time, people who are good folks are being punished for small offenses to prove a point.

Perhaps if we were to crack down on the people out there who are using concealed weapons illegally and harmfully the rest of the world wouldn’t feel the need to have a concealed weapons license in the first place.

By drtroubles — On Jun 07, 2011

There are those that feel that the right to carry arms and conceal weapons is a part of their American identity and should be a protected freedom. Gun advocates across the board believe that responsible use of firearms includes being able to carry them safely on your person as you see fit.

Many states have varying laws about the size of the weapon you can carry, whether it may be loaded or not, and when you have to declare the weapon.

I personally believe that people have the right to defend themselves. If criminals are carrying weapons, citizens should be able to defend themselves when the police aren't around to help.

Do you think that carrying a concealed weapon is a right that should remain as is, or do you think it should be removed from the books?

By Sara007 — On Jun 07, 2011

I don't understand why anyone except the police need to carry a concealed weapon. This practice seems outdated and dangerous in my opinion.

With the number of violent crimes being committed with weapons, I doubt that the people who were engaged in criminal behavior were carrying permits in the first place.

I know people are concerned about self-defense, but surely there must be a better way to protect our communities than everyone tucking away knives and guns in their back pocket.

I would like to think that we are civilized enough that only properly trained law enforcement officers should be able to carry concealed weapons.

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