Family vacations, business trips, even going across state borders for a dinner and a movie… these travel events are a little more complicated for the defensive minded individual. I choose to carry my gun every place I am legally allowed to do so. While I perfectly understand that I am preparing for a statistically unlikely event (the vast majority of our country is relatively safe), I still don’t want to be in the situation where I truly needed my handgun, and it was sitting at home in the safe.
So, what do I need to know when traveling out of my home state with my handgun?
First thing to determine is if the state you are traveling to extends reciprocity to the state your concealed handgun permit is from. Reciprocity is simply an agreement between states to honor each other’s concealed carry permits.
Look to your state’s official issuing authority for information on which states there are agreements in place. This is the most legally accurate place to find information. As a double check, also check the issuing authority of state in which you are traveling, simply for peace of mind.
You will then want to familiarize yourself with the concealed handgun laws of the state which you will be visiting. Remember, you are responsible to follow all laws in any place in which you travel. These laws and regulations should be accessible through the official issuing authority of the state to which you are traveling.
While those issuing authorities, are the go-to official websites for each states information, they can often times be cumbersome to deal with. There is one website, which I usually start out at, that has consolidated the information from all fifty states in an easy to read and access format. This website is:
Handgunlaw.us is useful, because it starts out with a map where you simply click on the state of interest, and all of the gun laws and reciprocity agreements simply pop up on your screen. They also have links to take you directly to each state’s issuing authority which makes it easy to get to the official information.
Realize, you must be aware of the laws in any state in which you travel. If you are traveling through multiple states on your way to a destination, you need to understand the reciprocity and laws in those states too.
There is one useful piece of information though… even if you are traveling through multiple states, and some states do not have reciprocity with your state, there is a provision of the woefully misnamed (the vast majority of this legislation harmed law-abiding gun owners) Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986. The “Safe-Passage” provision of this law allows travelers “passing through” a state to transport their guns, unloaded and inaccessible to the driver, even if the state has onerous and unfriendly gun laws. Realize this “passing-through” is for short stops for gas and food.
Personally, I do my best never to visit or pass through such states as a personal protest. If a state chooses to violate the civil rights of its citizens, I choose not to do commerce within that state, including buying gas or a cheeseburger on my way through.