Scroll through the gallery above to learn about the concealed carry gun laws in your state!
Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the recognition of the right of concealed carry, with it now being legal in all 50 states. However, the laws that govern it vary dramatically from state to state. What follows is a general overview of each state’s laws on issuing permits, as well as whether or not they issue out-of-state permits to non-residents, and if they recognize permits from other states. While “reciprocity” is a term of art, I’ve used it here in the more general sense of whether or not they will recognize another state’s permit. Just because they recognize some other permits, however, doesn’t mean they recognize one from your state, so you’ll need to check that, as well as any other limitations—such as ammunition or magazine capacity laws as well as the law of self-defense for that state—that could affect you while you’re there. 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. 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, though, that laws change frequently and often become effective at unpredictable times. Many states have changed their CCW laws in the past year (you’ll see notes on some of these changes and when they will become effective), and 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 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. While this information was accurate at the time of its compilation prior to publication, please verify all information prior to traveling. If you have any doubt at all about carrying, don’t do it. Others may give bolder advice, but remember it’s your freedom they’re risking, not theirs: They won’t be paying your legal bills—which will be substantial, even if you win—or doing your jail time if you break the law.
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Choosing to carry a concealed weapon is a significant amount of responsibility. If you are going to take responsibility for protecting yourself, an important part of that is the responsibility to know and obey the law when you do it. Self-defense, at its core, is about maintaining the status quo of your life, without allowing anyone else to degrade it. If you break the law, you may not lose your life, but you very well may lose your freedom, including your right to ever own a firearm again. Be armed with not only your firearm, but also the knowledge of how to use it properly and legally.
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