While concealed carry is legal in the vast majority of states, the laws that govern it vary dramatically from one state to the next. What follows is a general overview of each state’s laws on issuing permits, as well as whether or not it issues out-of-state permits to nonresidents and if it recognizes permits from other states. While “reciprocity” is a term of art, I use it here in the more general sense of whether a state will recognize another state’s permit. Just because a state recognizes some nonresident permits, however, doesn’t mean it recognizes one from your state. You’ll need to verify what your carry rights are and any other laws (such as those concerning ammunition, magazine capacity and what constitutes lawful self-defense) for each state you carry a firearm in. Included are links to official sources in each state, as well as the citation for its CCW statute, to serve as starting points for the additional research you should do on your own to ensure that you are obeying the law.

Note that what follows is not legal advice. For that, you must contact a licensed attorney who specializes in this area of law, in the state you intend to carry in. The goal isn’t to answer all the questions you may have but to tell you where to look for the answers you need. Be aware, however, that laws change and they can frequently become effective at unpredictable times. Many states have changed their CCW laws in the past year, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t change again by the time this gets to press and into your hands. Also, available information, even from state agencies, may be conflicting. While the information in this article came from state government sources (including directly from the most recently published statutes), do not rely on this or any other unofficial source. Verify all information prior to traveling, and if you have any doubt at all about carrying, then don’t.

A legal maxim states that ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you’re going to walk around in public with a deadly weapon, the burden is on you to seek out and understand the law and to comply with it. Otherwise, the only way you can plan to be educated on the law is when you’re charged with breaking it. Since that can cost you both your liberty and your right to ever own a firearm again, even hiring a lawyer to research the question ahead of time seems pretty cheap now, doesn’t it?…

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