Although all 50 states now allow some form of concealed carry, the laws governing it are as different as the states themselves, and are constantly changing. The following is a general overview of each state’s laws on issuing permits, as well as whether or not they issue 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. The exact terms of the reciprocity they offer are, of course, different for each state. Just because they recognize some out-of-state permits doesn’t mean they recognize one from your state, so you’ll need to check that.
Other restrictions to be aware of are ammunition or magazine capacity laws as well as the law of self-defense for that state. 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.
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 the questions you need to ask, but to tell you where to look for the answers you need.
Be aware that laws change constantly and new ones often become effective at unpredictable times. Almost a third of states made some changes to their CCW law during 2015 (almost half since 2014) and some states have as many as three different versions of their CCW law staged to take effect at different times. 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.
There is a school of thought that says you should push the limits on such things, and you’ll find no shortage of anonymous people on the Internet enthusiastically urging you to do it. They will not be going to jail in your place, paying your legal fees or be the ones stripped of their right to carry a firearm, however, in the future when you get caught. Don’t lose your right to carry. Don’t let them dupe you into being a test case.
We are fortunate to live in a time when states are increasingly recognizing the right to self-protection. The continued expansion of these rights depends on those who exercise them in a legal and responsible manner. Stay informed and stay legal.
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