How “Concealed” Must You Keep a Concealed-Carry Firearm?

As a gun owner, it’s your responsibility to carry your firearm in a safe and legal manner. It’s also your responsibility to know the laws that affect your right to carry, including all state, local, and federal laws. 

One of the most basic issues is the definition of “concealed” and how hidden you must keep your firearm.


Defining “Concealed”

It seems like “concealed” should be a fairly simple term to define, but when discussing legal matters of any form, and applying them to the real world, things are rarely simply. The legal definition of a concealed weapon, as defined by the 1858 court case of Owen v. State, 31 Ala. 387, is a weapon that is “willfully or knowingly covered or kept from sight.” 

So, according to this definition, it simply needs to be covered by clothing to be considered concealed. But in some states, if the outline of your firearm is visible (sometimes referred to as “printing”) it is no longer concealed, which could mean you are either open carrying or brandishing your firearm. 

When the Firearm is No Longer Concealed

This brings us to a factor that should be consider by all gun owners: “brandishing.” Virtually all states and jurisdictions have laws against the improper exhibition of a firearm, and, of course, these laws vary in terminology and interpretation. Generally, brandishing is the display of a firearm in a way that someone might find threatening. Also, if the firearm outline is visible, you may go from concealed to open carry, which may be 100% illegal, depending on your location.

Complete Concealment is the Best Strategy

If you are a concealed-carry owner, you need to act like a representative of the right. Therefore, it is best to carry your weapon with 100% concealment and no outline or the chance of inadvertent exposure. By doing so, you not only protect yourself from legal issues related to brandishing or open carry, but also help maintain the rights of others to do so as well. 

To assure complete concealment, you can consider wearing jackets, purchasing high-quality holsters, carrying a smaller firearm, or a combination of techniques. Whatever way you choose to conceal, make sure you are always maintaining a high level of responsibility and safety at all times. 

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