Carrying Concealed Around the U.S.
Perhaps you are someone who enjoys carrying a firearm in your home state but have to travel for work or are going on vacation. What do you need to know about carrying concealed in other states?
The good news is, you can own a firearm in all 50 states. But the laws regarding what type of firearm, and whether or not it can be carried, vary from state to state so check with that state’s governmental website before you go.
Here are some helpful things to know about carry permits in the U.S.
Types of carry - There are three types of carry in the United States. They are concealed carry, open carry, and constitutional carry (also called “permit-less carry”). Concealed carry means that you can get a permit to carry a firearm concealed. Open carry means that you can get a permit to carry a firearm openly (which sometimes also includes concealed, depending on the state). Constitutional carry means that you can carry a firearm without a license or permit. States such as Vermont and Arizona have constitutional carry, Texas has open carry (which also includes concealed), and California only has concealed carry (and a very, very restrictive one at that).
Reciprocity – If you have a driver’s license in one state, you can still use it when driving in other states. Why is that? Well, the other states have what is called “reciprocity” (which means the state sees your license as reciprocal with theirs) with your state when it comes to a driver’s license. When it comes to some type of concealed carry permits, there are states that have reciprocity with yours. However, unlike a driver’s license, not all 50 states will honor your license. Therefore, you have to check to see which states have reciprocity with your state before you travel. Some states have a unilateral reciprocity (they accept your license and your state accepts theirs). Some states have reciprocity only one way (your state accepts their permit but their state doesn’t accept yours, or vice versa). Some states only accept your license as long as you are a resident of the state listed on your license whereas other states will accept your state’s license even if you are a non-resident of the state listed on the license. FLP Premium members have access to the FLP phone app. This is a convenient way to check the reciprocity of whichever state you are visiting
May Issue vs. Shall Issue – In states that don’t have constitutional carry, carry permits are issued according to one of these two criteria, either “may issue” or “shall issue.” “May issue” means that a state can issue a conceal carry permit but they don’t have to. In a “may issue” state you can meet all the requirements (training, background check, etc.) and still be denied a license unless you can show an extenuating circumstance of why you might need one, which will be subjectively evaluated by the issuing authority – and it’s at their discretion whether or not to issue the permit. May issue states become somewhat arbitrary in who they allow to carry a firearm. In a “shall issue” state the state is required to give you a concealed carry permit assuming that you meet the standard requirements of that state. Typically states that are more liberal are may issue (California, New York, Hawaii, etc.) and states that are more conservative are either shall issue or have constitutional carry.
Transportation - Check to see the laws regarding transporting a firearm. Some states require that firearms be concealed while traveling. Other states require they be open and easy to see. Some states require they be kept unloaded. Some states allow you to always keep a gun in the car while others only allow it for purposes of transportation, etc. Even if you are not carrying the firearm on your person, make sure you know the laws regarding having one in your vehicle.
Type of firearm - Check to see what types of guns are allowed to own and carry in that state. Some states regulate what type of gun you can carry. Other states, such as California, limit what your magazine capacity can be. Other states, such as Oklahoma, won’t let you carry anything bigger than a .45 caliber handgun, etc.
In summary, as long as a state has reciprocity with yours you can carry but you must follow the laws of that state. Remember, you are bound by the laws of the state you are currently in, not the laws of the state under which you got your license. The best way to make sure you are acting lawfully in carrying your firearm is to look into the laws of the state to which you are traveling. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give them a call and ask.