Carrying in a non-permissive environment: risk/reward calculation

Yesterday I showed a picture of my collection of wee-little wheelguns, all of which are awesome and useful for things. I mentioned that some of them are used for carrying in NPE, or non-permissive environments; that’s a subject that I’d like to expand on today for our readers that are relatively new to the CCW world. For our seasoned readers, please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.

Ruger LCR22

As we have this conversation, it’s important to understand that there are different levels of NPE. In very broad terms, an NPE is a place where the carry of guns is forbidden either by policy, such as a place of work, or by law, such as a federal building. Because the type of NPE can vary greatly, the consequences can also range from “being asked to leave” all the way to “go directly to jail, do not pass go.” What that means is carrying into an NPE becomes a risk/reward calculation that you need to have performed before you get there. Here are five examples to help kickstart the thought process.

1. Carrying in the mall
Simon Properties is one of the largest owners of mall property in the US, or at least they were when I lived in Indiana. Every mall there was a Simon mall, and every mall in the Indianapolis area forbade the carriage of firearms. However, because in Indiana “no-guns” signs don’t have the force of law, the “worst case” scenario if I was caught carrying would be that I would have been asked to leave, which I would have complied with. So the risk in that case is very low, and the potential reward of being able to defend myself is very high.

2. Carrying in a “30-06” establishment in Texas
In some states, there are “no guns” signs that do have the force of law. What that means is that carrying in these places is technically a crime, and if you’re caught could carry appropriate penalties. Many states, including South Dakota and Washington, have statutory provisions against carrying in bars, regardless of whether or not there is a posted sign. So the risk here is higher, because fines, misdemeanors, and possible jail time are not things we want. The reward is roughly the same in this instance, because we’re generally talking about public places.

3. Carrying at work
I’m fortunate that in my day job I carry a gun every day. I don’t need to worry about showing up at work with a gun and getting fired for it. Unfortunately, most Americans are not in this position, and many people could be fired if they were discovered carrying at work. So the risk here is actually pretty high, because “getting fired” isn’t just a loss of a job, it’s a loss of money, of quality of life, and could also become a black mark on your resume making further employment difficult. For most people, a reasonable middle ground is simply keep your gat locked in your car, and have some other more PC form of weaponry available for in your office, like OC spray. You’re a lot more likely to get mugged on your way to the car, or in the parking lot of the Kroger when you stop to get groceries than you are to have to fight off an active shooter in your work place.

4. Carrying at your child’s school
Note that I say “your child.” This one is complicated, because the legal patchwork that is the “no guns in schools” policy isn’t nearly as clear as you’d think. That being said, I’m also not qualified to comment on this, because I don’t have children. So evaluate this one on your own, understanding that the possible repercussions could involve serious criminal offenses. But the flip side is of course being armed and in a position to stop a mass shooting at a school or related event.

5. Carrying in government buildings
Don’t. Most .gov buildings have metal detectors and security anyway, and the ones that don’t like post offices aren’t worth it. I just accept the fact that my government wants me disarmed in any situation I may interact with them.

Those are five examples of NPEs, and possible risk-reward calcuations. I carry in Type 1 places all the time; mostly because I keep my gun concealed and don’t stress about it. I use a small gun in a very discreet holster and go about my life.


  1. One important category worthy of mention; US Military installations. Even if there is a publically accessable event like a museum or Air Show event, do NOT bring a firearm onto the base. Not even a cased one ,as it will be a ‘direct to jail’ experience should it be found. Observe that on military bases, police have the authority to search any vehicle without prior probable cause or warrant.

    1. Oh yeah, this absolutely. Also, a minor note of correction – entering a military base is considered sufficient probable cause for a vehicle search.

      1. An exception to this post, live near Ft Lee, Va they have a gun range that is open to the public, but guns must be cased, unloaded, and inaccessible, and then you’re good to go.

        1. Ft Sill near Lawton Oklahoma has a range as well that is accessible to the public, however you must register any weapon you intend to take on base with them before doing so and you must also pass a qualification test.

          This may not be the case at all ranges on military bases that are usable by the general public but either way i would rather not.

  2. I agree about type 1 places I too carry discreetly, as to “my child’s” schoo,l I carry 100% of the time there….we home school. Although if Obummer had his way, I’m sure guns would be forbidden in homes where kids are home schooled!

    1. More accurate: if the left had their way, homeschooling would be outlawed. Can’t have kids not getting pushed through the indoctrination…I mean public school system!

  3. Another note is that in Texas the 30.06 must be placed at all public entrances of a facility or building to be considered to be in force. 30.06 also does not just apply to bars or other places that sell alcohol, if the sign is posted it forces a no carry zone. If it is not posted then at places like a mall where they may have listed on their rules of no weapons or firearms then it is a place where you can be free to carry concealed if you are carrying a handgun.

  4. Texas also has a 51% sign that prohibits carry, these are places that make at least 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol sales, this mostly applies to bars but certain other establishments can have them too (my local bowling alley was posted with such a sign, guess they made more money from beer sales than bowling)

    Texas also has some goofy language in the law such as hospitals and churches being off-limits from carry, but only if they are properly posted with 30.06 signage (why they go to the trouble to state this I don’t know)

  5. Churches were originally no-carry, but they were added to the 30-06 list later.

    I carry to and from my kids’ schools, but not in them. A lockbox in the car is your buddy.

  6. Concerning government buildings, it depends if they’re Federal (prohibited by law), State (may or may not be prohibited by law), or Local (again, may or may not be, depending on the state, state law and, if applicable, local law).

    In Pennsylvania, the only government buildings that are off limits are schools (a government entity owns them), court facilities, prisons or prisoner holding facilities and certain Department of State facilities. The last two being by authority of state regulations, which may not be totally legal (to be determined). Local government buildings open to the public cannot prohibit the carrying of firearms due to state preemption.

  7. Obviously not the case in all states, but in OR school carry is perfectly legal if one has a CHL. The risk for me was being expelled if I was caught.

  8. I want to caution about carrying concealed on private property with posted gun free zone signs or something similar. While they don’t necessarily have the force of law, in Virginia where I live, you would be violating the concealed carry law if you carry onto private property where prohibited. So the sign itself doesn’t have force of law, but you would be violating the law. Again, I’m speaking only of Virginia law, but most states that issue CCW permits have similar laws governing where concealed carry is allowed, and where it isn’t. With that said, in my opinion, your personal safety, and that of your family takes priority.

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