Carrying across state lines

How To Travel To Other States With Concealed Carry Weapons

To say gun laws are complicated is an understatement. CCW reciprocity agreements may be some of the most important laws currently being discussed in the gun rights debate.

These agreements are an interstate legal infrastructure allowing firearms permit holders to legally travel from their home state to another and lawfully carry concealed weapons in that state.

The issue with these agreements is that there isn't a federal application, it's purely on a state-by-state basis, which means they vary across the U.S.

The Types of Concealed Carry Reciprocity Agreements

Concealed carry reciprocity is an agreement between state governments, often decided by a state's attorney general, that allows non-residents to concealed carry in a given state if they meet certain criteria.

Is there federal concealed carry reciprocity? Well, if you ask the NRA, the answer would be, "We're working on it."

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US Constitution & Reciprocity US Consitution & Reciprocity

It's a key piece of legislation the organization is lobbying for.

Federal concealed carry reciprocity has been proposed before in Congress, such as H.R. 2959 titled National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013, and the 115th Congress (2017-2018) has bills in the House and Senate addressing the matter.

Rep. Richard Hudson from North Carolina introduced H.R. 38 in early January of 2017.

Titled the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, it currently has 206 cosponsors and was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations on January 12.

Similarly, this was presented in the Senate by Texas Sen. John Cornyn under S. 446, and it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary in late February.

As it stands, reciprocity is a state-government legislative choice, with states choosing to unilaterally recognize all out-of-state permits, to recognize permits that require the same application process and training, to recognize only enhanced permits with more rigorous training requirements or choosing outright not to recognize out-of-state permits.

Naturally, this varies between states.

Legislation in blue states tends to lean toward heavier gun control, while red states recoil in the opposite direction.

For example, California does not recognize out-of-state permits (applicants are lucky to get one in state). On the other end of the spectrum, as of March 2015, Ohio recognizes all non-resident permits, regardless of whether or not Ohio has entered into a reciprocity agreement with the non-resident's state.

Oklahoma is a rare case: it allows constitutional carry states (states with no required CCW permit) to carry concealed weapons in Oklahoma without a permit, under Oklahoma Title 21 ยง 1290.26, which goes into effect November of 2017. It recognizes all other permits.

All that said, complying with state laws will always be a mixed bag due to how fickle state gun laws tend to be.

How CCW Reciprocity Agreements Affect Gun Owners

Gun owners should think about CCW reciprocity agreements when leaving their home state and entering a state where they intend to leave their motor vehicle and carry their concealed weapon in public, or if they are moving there.

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Map of New Hampshire reciprocity source Alien Gear Holsters Map of New Hampshire reciprocity source Alien Gear Holsters

Get ahold of authorities prior to traveling to another state and carrying concealed weapons.

Traveling through a state with a firearm tends to not be an issue if it's kept in a locked case, separate from ammunition and stored in a trunk inaccessible by the driver and passenger compartment.

There are variations on that, so be sure to check state laws where traveling, because this not formal legal advice.

There are case studies on felony charges being brought against permit holders traveling out of state with their CCW.

A nuclear power plant engineer from Tennessee traveled to Delaware with his Glock, and was pulled over. He was arrested and faced the possibility of not being able to work at a nuclear plant due to potential felony charges, according to media reports.

CCW Reciprocity Is Being Developed

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State emblems reciprocity

As it stands, CCW reciprocity agreements are a broken web between states. National concealed carry reciprocity standards would create a cohesive framework similar to driver's licenses.

Opponents of this legislation point out that that metaphor isn't accurate because driver's license requirements tend to be similar across the board, whereas state concealed carry permitting programs vary on training requirements.

Regardless, the underlying intent is to simplify and streamline gun laws, removing the potential for more "accidental criminals" to be faced with felony charges by simply traveling with firearms.

It's worth pointing out that some states allow non-residents to apply for permits.

Will it be applied at a national level? Should it be? Let us know in the comments.

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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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