The Process Differs State-By-State, But You Can Appeal A Denied CCW Permit Application

At times, it may seem like getting ready to legally carry concealed firearms is like running through a bureaucratic maze.


When a CCW permit application is denied, in many states there is an established process to appeal the denial. The reason an application can be denied, however, will differ in every state, which will affect whether or not an appeal will be successful.


The denial will stem from standardized state requirements and disqualifiers outlined in its firearms statutes and by federal firearms possession requirements — unless it's a may-issue state that requires "good reason," in which case just move to a constitutional carry state and establish residency.


That's only kind of a joke.


The Process Of Appealing A Denied CCW Permit Application

States generally have an established legal infrastructure to appeal a denied CCW permit application.


There may be a board that reviews permit denials and revocations upon request, as has been the case in Maryland since 1972. A denied Maryland applicant may request an informal review from the Secretary of State Police within 10 days after receiving notice of the decision on the application.


Otherwise, the Maryland applicant may send a formal written request to the state's Handgun Permit Review Board after denial, or if there is no notice given on the application within 90 days.


Maryland isn't just some random example. Many states follow this basic model.


Within a certain extent of time, a written request may be formally submitted to an established body connected to the permitting process for the sole purpose of reviewing handgun permit decisions.


Connecticut's Board of Firearms Permit Examiners similarly requires a written letter requesting appeal within 90 days from the denial date.


They require appellants to complete a questionnaire.


In other states, the appeal must be made to a higher court.


North Carolina, for example, pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 14-404, outlines that within 7 days of the refusal the sheriff will provide written notice of the denial with the specified statute that disqualifies the application.


Making a case for a successful appeal will depend on the reason one was declined, obviously. Not to be flippant, but it's not just going to be calm chat over a cup of coffee.


The authority (which may be an entire panel of elected personnel) that the denied applicant is appealing to will require presentation of documents and facts that directly relate to and legally contradict the reason for denial.


The reason for denial in shall-issue states seems easier to counteract than in may-issue states.


The appellant will generally receive a specified reason for denial from the issuing authority. The reason will stem from state requirements outlined in statute, and often on the permit application, as well as federal requirements outlined in 18 U.S. Code § 922 and found in NICS background checks.


May-issue states — generally speaking — require objective documentation, not an emotional appeal or conjecture, that the applicant fears danger to person or property, or that they otherwise fit the characteristics of what they deem a "proper person." Police reports, military documentation, recommendations and other similar documents tend to prove effective.


There's also something to be said about the act of presenting an effective argument against a CCW permit denial.


How To Present An Effective Argument When Appealing A CCW Permit Denial Or Revocation


An effective argument when appealing a CCW permit denial is simple: facts, facts, facts.

Lawyer up if possible. Provide documentation refuting the denial. Stick to the case when speaking to the review board or court. Present the case professionally — including wearing professional dress.


Professional dress does help, but documentation of one's background will arguably help more than a windsor knot.


Some states, like Connecticut, provide appellants in advance a description of what a hearing will consist of.


There may be filing fees for appeals depending on the state.


Wisconsin, however, outlines in state records that there is no additional charge for an appeal to the Department of Justice for a denied license to carry a concealed weapon.


Scouring state statutes can turn up good reason for a successful appeal.


For example, refer to s. 175.60(14m) Wis. Stats., which outlines under section (f) that the circuit court will reverse a Wisconsin Department of Justice decision based on four factors, one of them being that the denial was made on factors outside the statutes outlined in 175.60 (3) that dictate the requirements for a concealed carry permit.


The court costs and reasonable attorney fees may be refunded in Wisconsin. It's not the only state that provides that benefit either.


Under Virginia Code § 18.2-308.08, if the decision to deny the permit is successfully reversed by the Court of Appeals, then all taxable costs may be paid by the Commonwealth.


Sometimes the appeals process is simple: a letter written to the county sheriff. This is the case at least in Placer County, California.


Although it's up to the authority the denied applicant is appealing to, there are successful appeals out there.


According to the Star Tribune, in Minnesota "...since 2003, about 96 percent of gun-carry permit applications have been approved. Of those who are denied as potentially dangerous, only about one-third appeal. But those appeals succeed about half the time."


But what if the reason is due to incorrect records in the FBI NICS Index? Can you appeal that?


Yes, You Can Appeal Incorrect Federal Firearms Background Check Records

how to appeal a denied concealed carry permit

If an NICS FBI background check yields someone incorrectly as being prohibited from firearms possession, there are steps outlined by the FBI to correct records and appeal an incorrect federal firearms background check that mistakenly identify someone as a prohibited person.


The FBI outlines an official appeal process in public records and what sort of outcome to expect.


The appellant will be referred to an agency. The NICS transaction number will be required throughout the entire process. Do not lose that.


There is a slight possibility that a permit applicant or firearms transaction has misidentified you as someone else.


The FBI provides a list of documents to further an appeal process when incorrectly identified under 18 U.S.C. Sections 921(a)(20), 922(g)(1-8), 921(a)(33), 922(a)(33) and 922(n).


The NICS Section will notify the appellant in writing with the outcome of their appeal.


Filling out official paperwork can be annoying. We've written about this process and published content about CCW permits in past in these blog posts.

Jake Smith 

About The Author


Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys shooting pictures and ammunition outdoors.

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