All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow some form of concealed carry, but the laws remain as different as the states themselves and change constantly. The following is a general overview of each state’s laws on issuing permits as well as whether they issue permits to non-residents and if they recognize permits from other states. While “reciprocity” is a term of art, here it is used in the more general sense of whether or not they will recognize another state’s permit. The exact terms of the reciprocity they offer are, of course, different for each state. Just because a state recognizes some out-of-state permits doesn’t mean they recognize yours, so you’ll need to check that. Other relevant concealed carry laws you’ll need to know are limits on ammunition or magazine capacity as well as the laws of self-defense for that state. Washington, D.C., for example, prohibits permit holders from carrying any more cartridges than are required to fully load the pistol, and in no event more than 10. Included are links to official sources in each state as well as the citation for their CCW statute to serve as starting points for the additional research you should do to make sure you obey the law.
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What follows is not legal advice. For that, you must contact an attorney licensed in that state who specializes in this area of law. This article is not intended to answer all of the questions you need to ask, but to tell you where to look for the answers you need.
Be aware that concealed carry laws change constantly, and new ones often become effective at unpredictable times. Roughly one-third of all states made some changes in their CCW law during 2016, and some states have multiple versions of their CCW law staged to take effect at different times, some as far in advance as 2021. There’s no guarantee that they won’t change again by the time this gets to press and into your hands. Further complicating things, available information, even when it comes 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, don’t do it.
It’s easy to find people on the Internet who will suggest that you should push the limits and carry in places where it’s illegal. The theory seems to be that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission, but that’s a foolish approach; all it takes is a traffic stop to get caught. In many states, carrying a weapon carries mandatory jail time and is often a felony. In Rhode Island, for example, it carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
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Be smart and be safe. Know the law and follow it. If you’re in doubt, don’t. It’s hard to protect your family if you’re in prison. Scroll through the gallery above to learn about state-by-state concealed carry laws for 2017.
NOTE: This summary is not intended as legal advice or restatement of law and should not be construed as such. This summary also does not include federal or local laws, ordinances, or regulations. Although accurate as of press time, firearm laws are subject to change and court interpretation. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation. YOU MUST ABIDE BY ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAWS. For additional information on concealed carry laws and restrictions within specific states, visit the NRA’s website at nraila.org/gunlaws.
This article was originally published in ‘Pocket Pistols’ Spring 2017. To subscribe, visit http://outdoorgroupstore.com.