Concealed Carry Reciprocity: What it is, Where It's the Law, and Where It's Not
As a gun owner, it's in your best interest to understand the gun laws in your state and any place where you intend to carry a firearm. Many people have run afoul of law enforcement despite knowing local gun laws and regulations and following them precisely. Many laws and regulations regarding guns and other weapons are vague, leaving room for malicious prosecution. Therefore, if you intend to carry a weapon, your best chance of remaining unmolested during your travels is to understand the law as fully and completely as possible.
Concealed carry permits are governed differently in each state. The federal government does not determine whether or not you are permitted to use your CCW in one state or another. Rather, it is left up to the laws of the state you happen to be in whether it is your home state or a state that you are visiting or passing through. That means if you have a CCP in one state, and travel to a state that does not recognize it- you may be subject to criminal prosecution.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Concealed carry reciprocity is a law that would require all states to recognize CCWs issued in other states. The idea behind the law is to allow responsible and law-abiding firearms owners to avoid being ensnared in states and jurisdictions that do not respect their right to be armed. The reciprocity law, or House Bill 38, is not yet the law of the land. Some states offer reciprocity, some do not, and others are not so cut and dry. That means, before you travel through a state other than the one in which your CCP was issued, you need to know that states position on the subject.
3 Positions of Conceal Carry Permits
At present, each state can have one of three positions on concealed carry permits; 1. Constitutional Carry, 2. Shall Issue, and 3. May Issue. It is important to understand the difference between these as you plan to travel from state to state.
Constitutional Carry Permit
Constitutional Carry means the state allows any state resident to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. All other gun laws apply, but the legal owner of a gun does not need permission to carry their weapon concealed or otherwise. Constitutional Carry states tend to offer the highest level of reciprocity.
Shall Issue States for Conceal and Carry
Shall Issue means residents of that state are required to obtain a permit before they can carry a concealed weapon. Those who meet the requirements to obtain a CCP must be issued such a permit if and when they apply for one. In other words, in Shall Issue states, those who may have a CCP must be given one and the state has no discretion to decide otherwise.
May Issue Conceal and Carry
May Issue states are the most restrictive. In a May Issue state, the state retains the ability to grant or respect a CCP or to not grant or respect them. In other words, in a May Issue state, you can meet the legal requirements to obtain a CCP and not be issued one. It also means you could have a CCP from another state and if you visit a May Issue state, they may not respect your CCP.
May Issue states are the most restrictive. Unfortunately, just because you are following the law does not mean you cannot run into trouble. Therefore, it's important to know the laws of every state you intend to travel in.
States and Their Conceal Carry Position
The following are four lists of states from least restrictive (Unrestricted No Permit) to the most restrictive (May Issue).
Unrestricted No Permit
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