Being a private investigator does not automatically entail the permission to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise. To carry a firearm as a private investigator, one must go through all relevant state-mandated procedures with regards to the obtaining and maintaining of the respective firearms licenses. This applies both for permits to carry, and for permits to carry concealed; the one does not directly imply the other, and a private investigator who wishes to carry a concealed weapon while on the job has to go through the same procedures that everybody else does.
In addition, there are some other, specific requirements which are present in certain states, prior to a private investigator being permitted to carry a weapon while they are on the job working a case. For instance, in the state of California, a private investigator wishing to carry a gun on the job must take the state-certified course in how to appropriately face and handle situations involving a citizen’s arrest. There are also courses to take in the moral and ethical use of firearms under a variety of situations, as well as all standard applications and fees involved. The procedures involved in gaining the appropriate permissions to carry a gun while on the job as a PI are exhaustive, in California as well as in certain other locations.
Due to the potential liability & ethical concerns involved in a state-approved private investigator discharging their weapon wrongfully – without the oversight of typical law enforcement procedures – and potentially resulting in the death of one or more individuals, most state governments are inclined to scrutinize a private investigator’s wish to conduct their business while armed with a certain intensity. Some states take a slightly different route than the one taken by California, however, such as the state of Florida. Florida does not permit its licensed private investigators to carry firearms openly at any time, or for any reason. Thus, those wishing to carry a firearm while on the job as a private investigator in Florida must pursue a concealed carry license, and may only carry when the performance of their job or the nature of a particular case requires it.
Private investigations fall into a legal gray area in many ways. Here, we have a class of professional investigative personnel who are not affiliated with any law enforcement agency, but who are certified by the state, have access to information not available to most civilians, and who sometimes assist law enforcement with the gathering of evidence. There are some profound concerns in many quarters about the implications of allowing widespread use of firearms among private investigators – such as by standards no more restrictive than those imposed on any other civilians. There are many individuals who feel that this would encourage private investigators to act more like bounty hunters, who are often seen as having regularly taken advantage of the lack of law enforcement regulations imposed upon them. So, while individual states pursue separate guidelines regarding the regulation of firearms on private investigators who are “on duty,” most show no signs of loosening their restrictions at any point in the near future.