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Conceal And Carry Laws—can I Carry My Weapon Into Other States?

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Author: Brad Hansen

As a PI, eventually you'll be hired for a case that traverses state lines. When that happens, while you may be qualified and permitted to carry in your state, you may not be allowed to carry in other states your cases take you to.

The first thing you will need to understand is a bit of legal jargon, the difference between the terms "shall issue" and "may issue." "Shall issue" simply means that issuing officials need to have a good reason in order to deny a permit. Otherwise, you are issued the conceal and carry permit by simply going through the application process and meeting the state requirements. Thirty-nine of the fifty states have the "shall issue" law.

"May issue" laws require that the applicant show a need to carry a concealed weapon which leaves things pretty arbitrarily open to come up with reasons to deny permits. That is indeed what happens in those states.

Two states (Wisconsin and Illinois) don't allow any kind of permit to carry for someone who is not a law enforcement officer. I suppose to counter that backward thinking, two other states (Alaska and Vermont) allow anyone over the age of 16 and 21 respectively who is not a felon, to carry a weapon without any kind of permit. Of the "may issue" states, Maryland rarely issues permits, while Hawaii never issues them. Now that you have some background on which states allow what in terms of permitting CCW, now lets discuss where you can travel with your weapon without being accosted by local authorities.

The answer is, it depends on which state you live in and received your permit from. The Mountain West and Southern States are all pretty lenient with each other. For the western, mid-western and north eastern states, it's pretty much a crap shoot. I like to use the reciprocity map at to let me know where I can bring my weapon before I travel. If I'm just driving through a state, I like to refer to my copy of the "Guide To The Interstate Transportation of Firearms." on the NRA-ILA website.

Just because a state will allow you to carry a loaded firearm into their state while driving through doesn't mean that the city you're driving through doesn't have laws against it. Crazy, I know, but you will need to brush up on the requirements for any city you plan to drive through. And certain states will allow some firearms but not others. You know, it's kind of like needing to get a Trip Tic from AAA before traveling. Find out what you need to know before you go and you'll avoid trouble.

If you are flying, the FAA has rules about firearms on a commercial aircraft (no issues on a small aircraft unless it's a charter). You may not carry a loaded weapon in the cabin with you. Rather, you must place it in your checked baggage unloaded, and you must tell the security folks who are scanning your luggage BEFORE they scan your suitcase and throw you up against the wall spread-eagle.

There is a movement afoot (which I hope continues to grow) to create a standard federal law that will take it out of the hands of the states entirely and allow conceal and carry just for the asking and cause all states to be reciprocal with one another. The current laws make it confusing to go from state to state and municipality to municipality. Citizens have the right to arm and protect themselves and it seems foolish to keep weapons out of the hands of law-abiding citizens when criminals apparently have such easy access. Already, with the number of states allowing CCW, violent crime is down. Let's hope that trend continues.

About the author: Brad Hansen writes articles for

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