You’ve seen the ads for them in every firearms magazine you have read for the past three decades. Concealed permit holder badges obsessively provide quick identification to let law enforcement know that the carrier is a licensee. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad of the phenomena.
The argument often used to sell these badges is that simply having one will make the bearer easy to identify to a responding law enforcement officer in a situation where you may have your weapon displayed. Another argument is that by clipping your CCW badge to your belt next to your concealed holster but still hidden from view by a shirt, vest, or jacket, if your weapon is briefly exposed through a wardrobe malfunction, it will not be alarming to members of the public who may see it.
Confusion with law enforcement
Law enforcement's first documented use of badges in the Unites States dates back to the first metal oval badges issued to the night watchmen of the Philadelphia NL Watch in May 1845. Since then every law enforcement agency from the small single officer town constable departments to the 36,000 member NYPD has used the badge to identify them.
That is the main cause of disagreement with CCW badges is that they can accidentally identify the wearer as a law enforcement officer. With some 1,000,000-law enforcement personnel on the streets of the United States and some 4-million (estimated) CCW holders, this can get confusing quick if everyone has a nice snazzy badge.
Another recent alternative often seen at gun shows and as purchased advertising in the media is for rapidly deploy-able CCW reflective 'road guard' type sashes. While not for everyone this is still a better idea than a gold badge that is easily confused.
If you are not careful, having and displaying a CCW badge that looks from a distance just like that of a sheriff or police officer can be interpreted as impersonating a law enforcement officer and lead to a whole heap of trouble.
The State of Florida, who has over 773,000 concealed carry permit holders as of 2010, says the following on their website about CCW badges:
Q-I am a Florida license holder, and I have recently received a solicitation in the mail for an "official badge" identifying me as such a license holder. Are these badges legal? Does the Division endorse these badges?
A-No, the Division does not endorse these badges, but they are not illegal. There is nothing in Florida law that specifically prohibits companies from offering to sell these badges to Florida license holders, nor is there any provision that prohibits license holders from carrying such badges.
License holders should be aware that the use of official badges is prohibited in Florida Statutes in a couple of places. Section 30.46 specifies that a badge in the shape of a five-pointed star can be used by Florida sheriffs and deputy sheriffs only. Section 843.085 makes it unlawful to wear or display any authorized indicia of authority (including any badge) which could deceive a reasonable person into believing that such item is authorized by any federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency.
Licensees should also take note that these badges do not substitute for identification or confirmation of your status as a holder of a Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License. Only the license issued by the Division will serve as a means of identifying a citizen as a license holder.
In short, it would appear that these badges are a bad idea and are for "entertainment purposes only." If you are a licensed carry permit holder, the State that issued that permit will give you the photo identification card produced by them. Keep that item with you at all times when carrying instead of a badge that can be easily misunderstood.
Instead of buying a nice CCW badge, spend that extra money on ammunition, range fees, and more training. Those things are always in style.