Before you start paging through Google ads or browsing the web to find yourself a concealed carry badge, there are several things you should know. There are issues of legality and considerations for your safety that can weigh in on the decision to carry a badge advertising that you carry concealed.
These are the things you need to know about concealed carry badges. Before you purchase and begin carrying one, consider the following questions:
- Is carrying a badge legal in the state where you reside?
- Why do you want to have a concealed carry badge?
- What are the advantages of carrying a badge?
- What are the disadvantages of carrying a badge?
- Do I need a concealed carry badge?
You may be putting yourself at more risk if you decide to purchase and display a concealed carry badge. The arguments for having one may, on the surface, sound compelling. However, if you look carefully at those arguments, they are based on what might be false assumptions. A careful examination of the realities and the legalities of having a concealed carry badge may help you make a better decision.
1. Are Concealed Carry Badges Legal?
Let’s get right to it – we could find no evidence that any state that has a concealed carry permit or license program supports the display of a concealed carry badge. The permit card that is issued by the state licensing authority in your state is, to our knowledge, the only recognized form of concealed carry identification by any state authority. This alone may be reason enough to not carry one.
That being said, our investigation found that, with one exception, no state laws prohibit a concealed carry permit holder from having and carrying a concealed carry badge. Unfortunately, the absence of a law prohibiting something doesn’t mean it is a good idea to do it.
One state does have laws on the books that seem to prohibit a concealed carry permit holder from carrying a concealed carry badge. New Mexico explicit states in their state laws:
“Only a law enforcement officer may carry a badge, patch, card, or any other indication of authority to carry a concealed handgun in New Mexico […]”
Other states may have similar statutes or regulations. You should make very sure that you are not in violation of state law before purchasing a concealed carry badge.
2. Why do You Want to Carry a Badge?
Why you should carry a concealed carry badge is a sticky question that can easily divide the camp into vastly different and widely separated groups. Here is where you must be careful in the assumptions that support each side.
If I am Involved in a Self-Defense Shooting, a Badge Can Help Identify Me as a Good Guy
It is tempting to believe that having a concealed carry badge in your hand when the police arrive will quickly identify you as a good guy. There are several underlying assumptions in this argument that warrant careful examination.
- The concealed carry badge carries no legal authority – Again, we found no evidence that any state recognizes a badge as a substitute for their officially issued concealed carry permit card. Badges from any number of sources are available without any question of whether you hold a permit or not. Most police officers will not accept a concealed carry badge as proof of identity or the legal right to have a concealed firearm.
- The police will not assume you are anything but a suspect until proven otherwise – The police will make no assumptions on anything about the situation until they have proven to themselves otherwise. A concealed carry badge won’t get you any more respect or consideration until the officers have identified you using their protocols and methods.
- Showing my badge might help ease some bystander’s fears – It is a reasonable argument on the surface. Anyone who happens to see you with your concealed carry gun may assume that you are a bad guy. The argument that flashing a badge will waylay some of this fear or misinterpretation seems valid. However, in some states, using a badge in this manner puts you in jeopardy of being seen as impersonating a police officer, which can be a serious charge.
I Want People to Know I am a Concealed Carry Permit Holder
Wait. Let’s look at this one. If the whole purpose of having a concealed carry permit is so that you can carry a gun without anyone knowing you are armed, why advertise the fact with a badge? In many states, it is illegal for you to expose your concealed carry gun, even accidentally, in public. Just a momentary flash of the firearm in a holster is enough to warrant a charge of brandishing in some places.
Why then would you want to skirt that part of the law by wearing or displaying a badge conspicuously marked “Concealed Carry Holder” or something similar? Don’t let ego override common sense. There are good reasons to be inconspicuous.
- The grey man concept – A huge part of being a concealed carry holder is expressed in the gray man concept. You want to be the grey man, or the one who doesn’t stand out, who doesn’t call attention to yourself, and who blends into the surroundings. You shouldn’t be carrying concealed to bolster your own ego or self-image.
- Don’t be a target – If the time comes that you find yourself in a situation where your concealed carry gun is the last means of defense, the last thing you want to do is give away that element of your self-defense beforehand. Finding yourself amid an armed robbery at the local convenience store is not all that uncommon. You can bet that the bad guys looking for a quick score will notice that badge. It screams law enforcement. That is the last thing these types of guys want to encounter. That makes you the focus of their attention and a target, and you give away your edge.
3. What Advantages do you get From a Concealed Carry Badge?
- Carrying a concealed carry badge can make you easily identifiable – There may be some instances when displaying a concealed carry badge may make your life easier, but these situations are sketchy at best. Depending on the attitudes of the local law enforcement community, wearing, or displaying a concealed carry badge may work for or against you.
- After a self-defense situation, you can identify as a good guy – There may be some places where flashing a concealed carry badge to the local law enforcement agency that arrives on the scene after a self-defense shooting can get a positive response. In that situation, having a concealed carry badge may work to your advantage.
- Having a concealed carry badge can help if I accidentally flash my gun – Inadvertent displays are a part of carrying concealed. Reaching up high to get a product from the top shelf of a grocery store can easily cause a brief flash of a holstered gun. This can also result in a report of a “man with a gun” to the local law enforcement. A badge worn close to that concealed gun may be enough to stop those reports since most people associate a badge with some sort of authority.
4. What Disadvantages may Occur from a Concealed Carry Badge?
- Misidentification – Flash that badge at the wrong time or in the wrong way, and you could find yourself charged with impersonating a police officer. No matter what your intent in showing your concealed carry badge, it is the impression that other people get that is important. Having to explain to a judge that you were just trying to help is rarely a good defense to such a charge.
- Unwarranted attention – A badge on your belt or around your neck may get you attention from people that would normally not give you a second look. If someone is intent on causing mayhem and grief around you, displaying a concealed carry badge puts a much bigger target on you and anyone associated with you.
- No Legal Authority – Concealed carry badges carry no legal authority in any state or jurisdiction. In fact, since anyone can buy a concealed carry badge without any proof of holding a concealed carry permit, the value of a concealed carry badge is diminished from the outset.
5. Do You Need a Concealed Carry Badge?
Based on all of the information we have provided above … probably not. Yes, they are cool and may make you feel official if you carry one, but in the end, they really don’t mean anything or convey any additional protection. In fact, openly displaying a concealed carry badge may work against you in the one time you may need your concealed carry firearm by drawing attention to you and giving up that element of surprise that carrying concealed can afford.
If You Want a Badge, Earn One
Our suggestion to anyone who wants to wear a badge is to get one with some real authority behind it. That means learning what it takes to become a licensed peace officer in your state. Get into a training program. Many local police and sheriff departments have reserve officer programs that are used to supplement the regular force.
As a reserve officer, you are certified and licensed by the state, and you can volunteer your time with the local law enforcement department to help fill in the gaps as time permits. Most of these programs offer you the same authority that a fully paid law enforcement officer receives. For more details of the ins and outs of concealed carry, check out our primer on everything concealed carry. As always, stay vigilant, and stay safe!