Traveling While Carrying Concealed Across State Lines - Things to know

Traveling while concealed carrying

Say you wanted to drive from Ohio to Maine to go fishing on the Saco River. Why wouldn't you want to take your favorite concealed carry pistol and Inside the Waistband ( IWB ) holster? Let's take a theoretical road trip to illustrate reciprocity – aka which states honor each other's concealed carry permits.

Road Trip: Concealed Carry from Ohio to Maine

If you were a resident of Ohio with a concealed carry permit, you wouldn't be able to holster and load your weapon until you got to Vermont. Vermont honors nearly every state in the union except the District of Columbia. However, none of the other states in the Northeast honor Ohio's resident concealed carry permit. In fact, if you were unprepared and didn't do any homework ahead of time, you'd have to wait on average 45 to 60 days to get processed for their non-resident concealed carry permit. The good news? You can fill out that form online before departing for said imaginary excursion.

However, if you were a resident of Maine with a concealed carry permit, you'd be able to get out and walk around at rest stops in Vermont and Pennsylvania without an issue. It really changes the concept of what it means to concealed carry across state lines.

Even outside of this one road trip, this example illustrates the jilted and overly redundant system in place to be able to move around this country with a concealed firearm. Each state has its own reciprocity rules for concealed carrying of firearms. The penalty for violating can be as light as fines and misdemeanors to felony prosecution.

Safe to Transport, Not so to Concealed Carry

New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland have no reciprocity rules for concealed carrying of firearms. That means they have their own definitions of what it means to carry and under what authority someone may do so. These states have to let you transport your firearm while driving through by provision of the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986. That said, that also means that unless you have a concealed carry permit issued by those states, you have to keep it unloaded, in a locked container in the trunk of your vehicle. It's strongly recommended that ammunition and firearm be kept in separate locked cases to reduce ambiguity in a state's particular definition of “unloaded”.

Shall Issue Versus May Issue

The fantastic piece of news is that many states have a “shall issue” to non-residents. If you're interested in traveling to any of the below states, a “shall issue” means there is a clear path towards getting a concealed carry permit as a non-resident:

New Hampshire
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina

That's great news for outdoors enthusiasts, hunters, and those simply interested in their own self-defense while on the road. While some states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut may one day move to a more progressively “Shall Issue” status, “May Issue” states have very strict criteria with some being much more permissive to non-resident applications than others.

If you're ever unsure of the legal status of your resident concealed carry permit, it's recommended you check with an attorney and read the law of the state you plan on carrying into. Additionally, there are some tools online that can help you determine which states honor your state's resident concealed carry permit.

What has your experience been with getting non-resident concealed carry permits? Do you experience any major differences between “May Issue” states? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

James England  

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.