Is ‘Free’ Permitting the Future of CCW?

Tim Anderson of the Virginia General Assembly believes so.


Getting a concealed carry permit should be free, and lawmakers should take action to eliminate the current fee, according to Delegate-elect Tim Anderson of Virginia Beach. Also, people who are caught carrying a gun without a concealed carry permit should be guilty of a civil penalty rather than a misdemeanor.

“The idea is to make it easier for people to get a concealed handgun permit,” Anderson says. “Once you have it, you can have the gun anywhere you want. You can have it in your pants. You can have it in your car. But make it easier on people.”

I support these aims and goals wholeheartedly. I believe that better concealed carry education can be offered without state mandate and that a motivated citizenry will still seek it out. We’ve seen this in states that have removed their permitting requirements while maintaining the ability to get a permit for reciprocity. Training and safety are desirable commodities without a state mandate.

Will everyone avail themselves of those opportunities? No, not in a vacuum. The culture around ownership continuing to grow was one of education will certainly contribute positively however, much more than education mandates.

Of course, that isn’t the only perspective and the ‘Wild West’ and ‘Streets will run with blood’ types chimed in too.

“I don’t want my taxpayer dollars paying for his permit,” says Lori Haas at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Haas also says more training should be required. “Think about what we require of a law-enforcement officer to carry a firearm in public. It’s hundreds of hours of training. But we’re saying that you are I can take a 45 minute in-person class where the guy looks at you and says, ‘This is the gun, this is the trigger, this is the holster. Now you’re equipped to go out and carry in public.’ I think it makes zero sense.”

Using Law Enforcement’s ‘rigorous’ standards is a false bar to begin with, we require them to take hundreds of hours of training to become a Police Officer, not to carry a gun in public. There are 1,001 other duties to being a police officer than safely strapping a gun to your hip, and plenty of cops fail to take that as seriously as they should too without being removed from the job because those other duties outweigh.

Also, the standard in VA is 3 hours, not 45 minutes. Do I agree that is too little for comprehensive knowledge? Sure. Do I agree it is too little for rudimentary competence on one platform? Absolutely. Do I believe it is the state’s job to mandate education with no publicly funded constant access to that education? Nope. I am a firm believer in that the state can mandate only what it can reasonably provide.

So, Lori Haas, what does make sense? Especially under the auspices of the limited authority of the state?

Considering the citizenry has the right to be armed in their own defense, what should be the standard to protect that right?

Fee structured permitting has always been a tax. It has always been most useful for one thing above all, keeping those with less money away from something. It is most egregious in this regard for carry permits because, unlike a vehicle tax that can be directly attributable to road maintenance, there is no extra benefit provided from the CCW permitting tax. Policing and keeping good order is already a duty of the state, and paid for by state general funds. So the CCW permit tax is a rights tax/sin tax that simply penalizes those who want to protect themselves legally, while also preventing the most impoverished and vulnerable from doing so. Paying for the permit and taking the time to do so is a much greater investment of their total resource than somebody with a higher base income, $100.00 means different things to different people and it shouldn’t mean the difference between protecting yourself legally or not.

You can parrot the line that permitting fees go into ‘preventing gun violence’ all you want, all that means is police funding. That is it. Police funding and perhaps a social program here or there (with dubious results) that, again, is already a duty of the state to be paid for by the state out of general funds.

In Michigan, I have one of the highest CCW permit fees around the nation. That absolutely excludes people from exercising their right. It also does nearly nothing to fund, or even oversee, the education requirement for permitting. Anyone teaching a course that is associated with a national or state level organization (NRA, MCOLES, USCCA, MCRGO) can just make an 8 hour course that meets the bare minimum standards and it is now a ‘State’ CCW course.

The state does not use its funding to help further education beyond the pamphlet level, nor to provide better training opportunities at subsidized rates to more people, nor even to discourage bad habits or practices again beyond the pamphlet level. There aren’t a bunch of highly accessible state ranges with state funded instructors at them covering down on things like safe storage, holsters, safe handling, marksmanship, and so forth. All of that is handled entirely by the private sector. The best information and the most modern practices are coming from the private sector. The funding to the state from licensure does nothing but pad the general coffer to the tune of a rolling $80,000,000.00 right now (for Michigan over a 5 year license period).

So yes, if permits are to be the standard then it should be covered under the general funds of the state and not an additional fee.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.