Concealed carry laws vary significantly from state to state. Just because you obtain a concealed carry permit in your state, it doesn’t mean that other states will recognize the permit. However, some states have reciprocity agreements and have agreed to recognize certain other states’ concealed carry permits.
Reciprocity means that two (or more) states have an agreement to honor each other’s concealed carry permits. With reciprocity, you still must follow the laws of the state that you are currently located. Recognition means that one state honors a second state’s CCW but carriers are still subject to the local state laws of the first state. Reciprocity means that an official document is signed between the two states. Recognition means there is no agreement in place, but the states honor each other’s permits. The patchwork system of gun laws in the United States make it difficult to know exactly where it is legal to carry a CCW.
Some states have strict gun laws and do not recognize concealed carry permits issued by states with more lenient concealed carry laws. Further, state and local gun laws change frequently. Therefore, it is important for concealed carry permit holders to review a state’s reciprocity laws before traveling to that state.
General Types of Concealed Carry Laws
The strictness of gun laws varies state by state. Although there is a growing movement toward constitutional carry (laws that allow citizens to carry a firearm without a government-issued permit), most states still require individuals to have a concealed carry permit in order to carry a gun.
Most states are “shall issue” states, meaning that they must issue a concealed carry permit to any applicant who meets certain statutory requirements. In these states, local law enforcement officials cannot deny an applicant a permit if the applicant meets all of the criteria.
Some states have stricter laws and allow law enforcement officials to use discretion when issuing or denying concealed carry permits. These states are called “may issue” states.
A few U.S. territories do not allow gun owners to carry their firearms in public. However, most of these so-called “no carry” jurisdictions do have exceptions that allow law enforcement, security personnel and members of the Armed Forces to carry firearms.
Nationwide Concealed Carry Proposals
Although federal legislation has been proposed that would require states to honor every other state’s concealed carry permits, a law has not yet been passed. Gun rights advocates continue to push for nationwide concealed carry reciprocity. A national reciprocity law would make a concealed carry permit function much like a driver’s license, and make it legal for anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry a CCW in any state. Learn more in another post about reciprocity.