Around the concealed carry community, there are a lot of acronyms thrown around. Some terms have the same meaning, while others do not. However, this tends to lead to confusion. One common question is whether a pistol or handgun permit is a concealed carry permit? The short answer is “no” a handgun or pistol permit is not necessarily synonymous with a concealed carry permit. Several states, require a license to own or purchase a handgun or other firearm. Within these states a separate permit or license is required to carry a concealed handgun.

A pistol permit has many other similar names, and the definition varies by state. However, there are 3 main types of handgun licenses. First, is the permit to purchase a firearm. This type of permit does not necessarily exempt the purchaser from any background checks. Instead the permit is an additional requirement for purchase. States with this restriction require some type of permit in order to complete the sale of a firearm.

Next, is a permit to own a firearm. Unlike the permit to purchase, this permit allows the user to possess a firearm. Most commonly, this allows the permit holder to possess a firearm on their personal property. For instance, if a firearm is inherited, the new owner may still be required to obtain a pistol permit for ownership.

Finally, there is a concealed carry permit. Oftentimes this is abbreviated to CCW permit or “concealed carry weapon.” There are other acronyms that represent this type of license. Individuals with this type of permit can carry a concealed handgun in areas not designated as “gun free”.

It’s worth noting that many states do not require a person to have a license to own or purchase a firearm. Additionally, states may impose certain restrictions on concealed carry permit holders. Examples include, restrictions on concealed carry in a vehicle or requiring that weapons be worn with a holster when concealed.

States With Permit To Purchase Requirements

Below are a list of states where a pistol permit may actually mean a permit to purchase a firearm. However, many of these states also have a separate concealed carry permit process. This information was provided by the Giffords Law Center.

Permit To Own Firearms

Below is a list of states that take limitations a step further, requiring individuals to have a permit to even own a firearm. Again, this does not entitle the individual to carry a concealed handgun.

Parting Shots

The terms “pistol permit”, “CCW”, “CPL”, and “handgun license” are often used interchangeably. However, one type of permit is not a substitute for the other and you should consult local code to ensure you are in compliance.

If you’ve got questions about obtaining your concealed carry permit, I suggest you check out the concealed carry map on the homepage. Additionally, you can find information on restrictions on your concealed carry license. If you’ve found this information useful or have follow up questions, please leave a comment below.