Alert: Many states still have quarantine requirements. Check all state and local laws before traveling.
Travel season is quickly approaching, but before you pack up the car and hit the road with your handgun, let’s talk about what you need to know before you travel across state lines.
What is Reciprocity?
Reciprocity is when one state enters into an agreement with another state or chooses to honor another state’s laws or set of laws. As it pertains to handgun license and permit holders, there are several states which have reciprocity agreements that recognize out-of-state carry licenses and permits.
In general, if the state you are traveling to shares reciprocity with the state that issued your license or permit, you can carry there as if it were a license or permit issued by the destination state. States are not required to have reciprocity with one another, and there is no requirement to recognize another state’s carry license. Many states issue their own licenses but refuse to acknowledge licenses and permits from other states. Conversely, some states choose to recognize all other states’ carry licenses.
But what is the general rule if a state recognizes your state’s license or permit to carry?
If the issuing state for your license or permit shares reciprocity with another state, you can carry in the reciprocating state under that state’s laws.
A Word of Caution
While you may be permitted to carry in the reciprocating state, the rules you are accustomed to in your issuing state may not apply. In some instances, the laws may be completely different. Signage is particularly troubling since it varies widely by jurisdiction, so be highly aware when entering any building while carrying. This is especially true when entering an area that serves a specific purpose, such as government buildings, schools, establishments that serve alcohol, or places that cater to children and families.
Additionally, the way you can carry may change depending on the state. For example, Texas license holders may openly carry their handgun in a belt or shoulder holster, but may not do so in Florida, which prohibits open carry. Some states also restrict the type of firearms you can carry or magazine capacity. Oklahoma does not allow the carry of handguns with a caliber larger than .45, and Colorado does not allow magazines with a capacity greater than 15 rounds.
What Happens if a State Doesn’t Recognize a Person’s License or Permit to Carry?
If you find yourself in a state that does not recognize your home state’s license or permit to carry a handgun, use extreme caution. In fact, there may even be restrictions on carrying in your vehicle. So, until you learn the law, keep your gun in your vehicle unloaded, locked, and inaccessible. But the best practice is to check ahead of time before your journey. You’ll want to make sure the state you’re traveling to allows you to possess a firearm.
For more information about reciprocity and carrying your firearm across state lines, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.