In the United States, the right to bear arms is a hotly debated subject. On the right, it is argued that firearms are needed for protection and peace of mind. Many on the left suggest otherwise. The constant tension has turned the gun industry into an equally valuable and volatile business. And then, there are groups hoping to take advantage of the everchanging concealed carry laws.
Some states have taken steps to make it easier to obtain a concealed carry permit by allowing consumers to obtain the required training online. In Tennessee, a law was passed in 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020 that allows Tennesseans to take an online course in order to obtain a carry permit. Virginia law allows non-residents to apply for a concealed carry permit after completing a safety course online.
While some agencies are legitimate and certified, others are not. This is why many are arguing that US Concealed Online and other similar websites are scams. So, what is the truth?
TN Concealed Carry Handgun Permits
In the state of Tennessee, there two types of carry permits. The first is called the “enhanced permit”. It is the traditional permit which requires the participants to take part in a day-long, in-person safety course and pay a $100 application fee. This type of permit allows for open and concealed carrying. It also allows the cardholder to carry a firearm on higher education campuses.
The new permit is cheaper and much easier to obtain. Tennessee residents can complete an online course and obtain a concealed carry permit in just 90 minutes. However, this permit does not allow open carry or carrying on campuses. They’ll also need to pay for the safety training course and a $65 application fee.
It should also be noted that not everyone can acquire a concealed carry permit. You must be 21 and be able to pass a background check. You must also have a certificate proving you completed a state-approved training course no more than a year ago.
US Concealed Online & Similar Websites
Many have been taken by what is being referred to as the US Concealed Online scam. With US Concealed Online, you’re working toward getting a Virginia non-resident concealed carry permit in Virginia. If you live in California, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, or anywhere in the United States for that matter, the website will walk you through the process of getting a Virginia concealed carry permit. The reason for this is the fact that reciprocity laws make Virginia concealed carry permits acceptable in many states.
For instance, you can use a Virginia concealed carry permit in Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, and many other states. However, some states will not honor the Virginia Non-resident Permit. The website uses certain phrases that make it seem that the permit will be accepted everywhere. Residents of all 50 states can obtain the Virginia non-resident permit but the permit is not accepted everywhere.
Those living in Virginia can use the permit in many states. For non-residents, the list of states shrinks. For instance, California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington will not accept the Virginia permit.
What Did Prior Users Think?
Unfortunately, a lot of consumers fell for the US Concealed Online scam. They signed up believing they would be getting a concealed carry permit that they could use in their state. Some may but many cannot. As of June 23, 2020, the BBB has logged 201 complaints for US Concealed Online. The majority of them complain that the permit is not valid in their respective state.
Us Concealed Online has refunded most of these individuals while saying some along the lines of “We typically have a strict no refund policy because once you are certified you can not be uncertified.”
US Concealed Online & Many Others
US Concealed Online likely wasn’t the first to use this loophole to make money and they won’t be the last. There are countless other websites engaging in the same behavior. This would include TacticalPatriot.us, Concealedcarry-ed.com, ConcealedAcademy.org, and many others.
Are They Scams?
Ultimately, the answer is yes and no. These websites are set up with the intention of making money. And, the website owners have to understand that the Virginia non-resident CCW permit is not accepted in many states. This is why it is mentioned numerous times in the fine print.
According to a recent Huffington Post article about US Concealed Online, the company has run 25,000 Facebook ads costing more than $6.4 million so there is a good chance that thousands of consumers have been misled. It is really a double-edged sword though.
The operators knew their service wouldn’t work for everyone but some consumers never read the fine print either. This much is clear from the company’s BBB page.
When HuffPost reached out to the company about its BBB complaints, Concealed Online said many of the critical reviews were written by people who wanted to criticize other companies. It also suggested that the Better Business Bureau offered the company a positive rating in exchange for money.
Both are actually believable.
Sadly, consumers have to be vigilant when shopping online. This is just one of the many “scams” you may encounter. It doesn’t help that Google Ads allow these websites to appear on the first page for search results such as “TN online carry permit class”. And, they show up before Tennessee’s government website. This is likely the case for other states as well. Many trust Google and believe Google will only place reputable sites at the top of the search results when this is not always the case obviously.
Obtaining a concealed carry permit is easier in Tennessee and some steps can now be completed online. Tennesseans need to make sure that they stick with credible, the department approved training courses and classes. A list of those can be found here. Americans elsewhere should learn the laws for their state and stay away from the non-resident Virginia concealed carry scams.