Recently, some really bad advice from some really bad concealed carry instructors has been making the rounds online here in Nevada. Specifically, these instructors are lying and saying that “printing” is illegal in Nevada.
“Printing” is a term used describe when the outline of a concealed handgun is visible beneath tight or pinched clothing. The correct word is actually imprinting, because the imprint of the gun is visible in the folds of the shirt or jacket.
Nevada has no law that can in anyway be reasonably construed to imply that “printing” is illegal. First, open carry is legal in Nevada. Whether the gun is carried openly on purpose or whether you happen to unintentionally expose it through movement or taking off a coat, etc., allowing others to see the gun is not a crime.
Second, showing the outline of the firearm through your clothes is not criminal either, unless you happen to not have a permit. Nevada defines a “concealed firearm” as a loaded or unloaded handgun which is carried upon a person in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation (NRS 202.3653).
Let’s not get too technical with this definition. Though one could argue that a very clear, obvious imprint of a handgun would be discernible as a firearm by ordinary observation, the long understanding is that the actual weapon is visible, not just its outline. No one should rush out to be a test case. Only deliberately exposing a holstered handgun to draw negative attention towards it as a threat is criminal (brandishing).
Anyone who says that you can lose your permit in Nevada for “printing” or openly carrying is a liar. Many instructors use this as a fear-based tactic to generate business out of a concern that people will choose the free open carry option. Not so. People like the ability to conceal and also appreciate the training that comes from a classroom environment. In fact, most serious shooters and citizen carriers seek out quality training and continue their firearms education.
Even police officers are mistaken or lie, usually the former. Officers often give “advice” or “warnings” to citizens printing or openly carrying. Officers have a very different reason to conceal their firearms and not look like a cop while off-duty or in plainclothes. The arguments against open carry and for very deep concealment do not apply to the average citizen carrier. Cops also have the observational skills and the necessity to look and see who might be armed.
I would caution most that if they choose to conceal, do it well. It presents a better image of armed citizens if there aren’t photos of a dude in a tight t-shirt just covering over a 1911. But don't worry if you can spot the gun shape; most people can't. For bigger guys or those odd clothes, a vague shape under the shirt goes unnoticed if dressed well.
Sloppy carry is something that criminals typically do, making a poorly concealed or poorly carried handgun a common identifier of crooks. You don’t want a gun in your waistband to give the guy at 7/11 a heart attack because he thinks you’re about to hold up the place. Certainly, in non-permissive environments like casinos one would also want to conceal well to avoid a ruckus or being asked to leave.
Printing is essentially a non-issue in Nevada and other similar jurisdictions. No one really cares and no one really notices, unless you are constantly grabbing at your gun in public like Michael Jackson's affection for his crotch.
Very few members of society who aren't law enforcement or well-trained are observant enough to notice a concealed firearm. Many people never even notice an openly carried one. Few people scan other people's bodies for guns deliberately, especially the general public who is uninterested in guns. If a criminal sees a concealed handgun, he will more than likely leave the person alone; criminals like targets that don't fight back (and gun snatchings, open or concealed, are very rare).
Clothing tends to soften the traditional gun shape allowing the human mind, which likes to see what's familiar, interpret the folds as just the way the clothes are worn. If they see it's an object, a reasonable assumption would be a belt-clipped phone case or something similar. That assumes the person is interested enough to think about it further or that they are someone who cares enough to say or do something about a concealed carrier. Most of the horror stories of a soccer mom tackling a concealed carrier or panicking were accidental exposures or merely a lucky glimpse and inference.
I don’t know how this pernicious rumor about printing started. In Texas, usually the source of bad carry law myths like California is the source of stupid laws, printing was never the issue people assumed it to be. You can read this excerpt from my forthcoming open carry book on Texas and the issue of printing there.
To conclude, in Nevada, it’s not illegal if your gun prints. It will look tacky if it’s bad and might get you kicked out of an anti-gun business, but that’s all.
Stay tuned while I research where printing is actually illegal. And buy a t-shirt, why don’t you?
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West