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Obtaining a CCW…Advantages and Disadvantages

February 11, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, State Firearms Laws No Comments

Question:  My wife and I have attended a recent CCW class and now question whether or not to finish the process and obtain an AZ CCW permit.  In your opinion what are the the real advantages (other than tactical) to being issued the card. Besides being placed on another list for the anti-gun establishment to point fingers at, the class we attended seem to bring up issues of higher accountability w/o significantly higher advantages to open carry.  Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Answer: This is a really good question and one I have been asked many times by prospective students.  First, let me dispel a couple of myths.  The fact that you have been issued a CCW permit is not publicly available information.  It is only available to law enforcement, so having a CCW does not put you on a ‘target list’ for the anti-gun establishment.  Also, there is no greater or lesser accountability whether you openly carry or carry concealed.  The laws regarding the use of firearms for self defense are exactly the same.  If someone carries a firearm they do have a great deal of responsibility and accountability, much more so than someone who does not carry at all, but there is no difference in accountability between open and concealed carry.

In terms of advantages to having an Arizona CCW permit, there are several things you should consider.

First, should you purchase a firearm in the future, you will not have to go through the background check if you have a valid CCW permit.  You can simply present your permit and driver licenses and walk right out with the firearm (after paying, of course!).

A second advantage would derive from being able to carry a firearm in your vehicle without having to keep it in a case or making sure it is visible to qualify for open carry.  When transporting a firearm in a vehicle without a permit, the firearm cannot be concealed and immediately accessible.  With a permit, you don’t have to worry about it.

A third possible advantage is a little more subjective.  If you are involved in a traffic stop with a law enforcement officer and have an AZ CCW and inform the officer that you have a permit, it lets them know that you have no serious criminal background.  After all, to get the card, you have to attend a firearms safety course and have a criminal background check done .  If you have a permit, it basically tells the law enforcement officer that you are a ‘good guy’ which makes the rest of the stop go more easily for both of you.

Another advantage is the reciprocal privileges that many states offer to concealed carry permit holders.  The Arizona CCW permit is currently recognized in 30 states.  This can be a nice advantage if you travel to those states.

In my view there are some very real advantages to concealed carry versus open carry from the standpoint of privacy.  It is no one’s business but your own if you decide to have a permit and lawfully engage in concealed carry.  Open carry, while legal in Arizona, puts everyone you come in contact with on notice that you have a firearm.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, but in my view, I would rather preserve the element of surprise and avoid unwanted attention that open carry can sometimes bring.

Per your request, I have specifically avoided the discussion of any ‘tactical issues’.

Since you have completed the course, there is very little additional effort required to get the permit.  I’d suggest that you complete the process.  Nothing in the law requires you to carry concealed or carry a firearm at all for that matter, but after doing all the hard work to attend the class, it seems only natural to complete the process assuming there are not financial issues that make the $60 application fee a hardship…

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