Sooner or later, this question always comes up among new concealed carry license holders. The issue of a concealed carry badge is contentious. Feelings run high on both sides of the argument, and the discussions can get intense. It is hard to get an unbiased answer to this question, but I will try.
Proponents of concealed carry badges make several arguments that on the surface seem to be solid and pertinent. Some of these arguments are:
- If I am involved in a self-defense shooting, the concealed carry badge is a way to identify myself as a good guy quickly.
- Carrying a badge gives me a certain amount of credibility, especially with cops.
- If I carry a concealed carry badge and someone sees my gun, they won’t panic and assume I am a bad guy.
Beyond the Superficial
Let’s look at each of these arguments individually, dissect them, and try to get an unbiased look at the realities beyond the superficial justification for each of these arguments.
The Good Guy Identity
Here is the scenario that this argument plays too. You defend yourself with your properly licensed concealed carry permit. Your training and practice pay off, and you stop the threat successfully. You immediately follow the correct protocols and wait on the authorities to arrive.
You have holstered your concealed carry weapon, stand with your arms extended, and show your concealed carry badge in your hand. As the first officers approach, you immediately notice that both officers have drawn weapons, and you are in their sights. One officer turns his attention to your assailant, who is on the ground groaning. The other officer stops and orders you to drop what is in your hand.
You immediately drop your concealed carry badge and are startled when the officer orders you to face away from him. The next thing you know, you are handcuffed and on the ground while the paramedics tend to your assailant.
You try to explain to the officer that you are a concealed carry license holder and defending yourself. It doesn’t seem to make much difference as you are soon in the patrol car’s back seat and headed to the police station.
The officer has picked up your concealed carry badge and placed it in an evidence bag.
So Much for the Good Guy Identity
The cops who respond to the scene of your shooting incident are concerned about two things. They are concerned about their safety and the safety of anyone else in the area. As far as they know, you are a crazed lunatic with a gun. They are going to treat you like that until proven otherwise.
In the responding officers’ eyes, they don’t know who is a threat and who is not. Their job is to remove the threats, make the scene safe, and preserve any evidence. The detectives and the prosecutors will ultimately decide what charges, if any, will be filed against you.
How Much Credibility Does a Badge Get You With the Cops?
Absolutely none. Believe me. As a professional firefighter, I worked with cops daily. As a police officer’s father, I can tell you that at a shooting scene where no one is considered anything but a threat. The fact that you have a badge that says Concealed Carry License Holder means zero.
Think about it. If you can go on the internet and buy a badge, so can anyone else. The people who sell concealed carry badges don’t do background checks nor check to see if you have a concealed carry license.
There is not a state in the Union that issues concealed carry permits that also issue badges. Not one! Concealed carry badges convey no authority and, in the eyes of police officers, have no credibility.
The Public Response – Maintaining Peace and Tranquility
The last of our three arguments do hold a certain amount of truth. If you elect to wear a concealed carry badge on your belt next to your holstered gun, it may convey to the general public that you have a certain level of authority.
In states where concealed carry is not a common situation, there are some problems with the chance flash of a concealed gun causing alarm or panic. The presence of a badge next to that gun can, in some cases, assuage that panic. In truth, most civilians can’t tell a real badge from a fake badge.
On the other hand, Cops can make that distinction. There are instances where a concealed carry holder wearing a concealed carry badge has found themselves facing a charge of impersonating a police officer. It is a stretch to think that this could happen, but an overzealous police officer and an equally zealous district attorney could make your life miserable for a while.
My son-in-law, an assistant district attorney, assures me that locally the case would not go much further than a stern admonition not to wear the badge. However, in some locales, the feelings are much different. A conviction of impersonating a police officer in most jurisdictions carries a hefty fine and some jail time, not to mention revocation of your concealed carry permit.
In Short, How the Pro Arguments Stack Up
Examining the arguments for carrying a concealed carry badge appears convincing on the surface. However, looking deeper behind those arguments in real-world situations reveals a much different truth.
- Cops responding to the scene of any shooting incident don’t care if you are carrying a concealed carry badge or not. Until they are sure otherwise, you are another threat and possibly a suspect. The concealed carry badge gets you nothing.
- After the incident, having a concealed carry badge gets you no more or less credibility. As soon as the cops establish your identity, they will be well aware that you are a licensed concealed carry holder. The badge gains you nothing. It is the reports that the police will generate about you that is relevant in their eyes.
- You might get away with an inadvertent flash of your concealed carry firearm if you have a concealed carry badge on your belt. Most people in the civilian world can’t tell the difference at a glance between an official law enforcement badge and a concealed carry badge. Under different circumstances, carrying a concealed carry badge on your belt like a sworn police officer can land you in more trouble than you may want.
It would seem that buying and carrying a concealed carry badge has no functional value. It can, under some circumstances, work against you.
What Does Concealed Carry Mean?
In most jurisdictions, concealed carry means ensuring that no one but you knows you are carrying a gun. Advertising that you are a concealed carry license holder by wagging around a large police-style badge contradicts the concealed carry idea.
Advertising your status brings me to the gray man concept. Most instructors teach that the best way to avoid trouble is not to attract trouble. Blending into your surroundings keeps you out of the focus of attention. If you do stumble into a situation, the last thing you want to do is alert any assailant you are carrying concealed. You become a threat to them and a focus of their attention.
The Realities of A Concealed Carry Badge
Concealed carry badges get you nothing, except maybe a certain feeling of bravado or self-importance. Having the concealed carry badge doesn’t give you any special status, nor does it come with legal standing. Ask a cop what they want to see when they stop you for some reason. Showing a concealed carry badge will get a swift order to produce your state-issued concealed carry permit. That piece of paper or plastic is the only thing that counts.
The Legalities of Carrying a Concealed Carry Badge
Before you purchase and begin carrying a concealed carry badge, check with your local authorities and ensure that there are no legal hurdles. Some states are explicit in prohibiting anyone other than a sworn and certified police, fire, or emergency medical personnel from carrying anything that looks like an official badge.
How to Get a Badge that Has Legal Standing
Many states and local jurisdictions have programs that will allow you to carry a badge with legal standing. The process involves some time, training, and an understanding to give back to your community. These programs, commonly called reserve officer or reserve deputy programs, can give you the right to carry a badge like any other police officer.
However, becoming a reserve officer has some stringent requirements. In most cases, the requirements include:
- Passing the same background checks that full-time regular officers pass when before getting hired.
- You must take the same training as any other police officer. This training includes classroom hours, field training, firearms training, self-defense training, and, in some cases, emergency medical training. The training academy time can be as long as six months.
- Upon your acceptance as a reserve officer, you must take the oath that every other officer takes before accepting the badge.
- You must accept a commitment to serve your community. Most reserve officer programs require you to serve a minimum number of hours each month. These time commitments may be in any capacity where a sworn officer works. In most places, these hours are without pay.
What you Get in Return – A Badge
If you make the application, get accepted, do the training, and take the oath, in most cases, you get:
- Legal recognition as a certified sworn law enforcement officer
- The right to carry a badge and a gun within the state’s regulations in which you live.
- The requirement to serve and act as a responsible sworn peace officer at all times.
The biggest thing you get is the responsibility and the understanding that you are no longer average citizen joe. You are now a protector of your community.
In The End – What do You Get?
Looking at the arguments for and against carrying a concealed carry badge raises one final question. What do you get by carrying a concealed carry badge? The bottom line is you get very little. The concealed carry badge comes with no legal standing and provides you no legal benefits. On the contrary, under the wrong circumstances, it may cause you more harm than good.
When someone approaches me about the worth of carrying a concealed carry badge, I instantly wonder exactly why this person wants the badge. For the most part, my opinion is that the desire to carry a concealed carry badge has little to do with credibility, safety, or other stated reasons. It seems to me that the biggest reason is ego and self-satisfaction.