The following was an email I got from a good friend who lives in the Northeast.
In a couple of months, the youth hockey season will be starting again.
You don’t have kids that play hockey so count yourself lucky. The long car rides gobble up my entire weekend. My wife and I drive to far out places so the kid can play 12 minutes of a 42-minute game.
Hockey means travel. Most of our time in this sport is spent traveling. This means driving across state lines. Upstate New York, Northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts… Places where carrying a loaded handgun can land you in jail.
So, when I wake up at 4:30 am, lug the hockey bag to the trunk of my car, I also have to make a decision about whether or not I’m carrying that day. This is a decision I hate to make and it’s a decision I hardly ever have to make when I’m in my home state.
While I have yet to be robbed, somebody did try to break into our vehicle while we were in Rhode Island for a hockey tournament. Bad guys do exist and they do lurk around places where hockey games and tournaments happen. It is a thing. So, should I carry in a non-permissive environment?
If you frequent any firearm forums, you’re likely to run across concealed carriers questioning whether or not to try their luck carrying in a non-permissive environment. The debate will get contentious as two basic sides form:
- Carrying a gun for personal protection is an explicitly acknowledged right inherent to our Constitution.
- Protecting yourself and your family trumps a sign posted on the wall.
- Private property owners (including business owners) have the right to dictate who carries on their land.
- If you see a posted sign and choose not to acknowledge it, you are disrespecting the law.
Before we get deeper into this argument, many readers will ask, ‘what the heck is a non-permissive environment?‘
A whole second group will ask the very common sense question, ‘why the heck would I want to be in one in the first place?‘
Let’s define a non-permissive environment for this conversation.
A non-permissive environment for concealed carry is any place that seeks to prohibit or limit a law-abiding individual’s right to bear arms.
We all know that criminals don’t care about ‘gun free’ zones and we know that ‘gun free’ zones are unicorns — purely imaginary.
Enforcement of these non-permissive factors can be by state or local law or simply just by a private landowner or lease holder’s decision. Sometimes these conditions are enforceable by law. For instance, if a state university can, by legal right, limit possession of ‘weapons’ (including firearms) on their premises, these conditions are enforceable by campus police and law enforcement.
Of course, if no one sees it, no one can know. But that also comes with the risk of being discovered either by printing, showing, or metal detection.
And then there’s the big problem: if you actually need to use your gun to protect yourself, the prosecutor may not care that you had a legally viable reason to do so. States like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have their own clearly defined rules governing the use of handguns in self-defense. While you may avoid charges relating to defending yourself, you may still face significant penalties, fines, and potentially jail time relating to the use of a firearm not authorized by those places.
So, if you are in a non-permissive concealed carry environment, your primary role is to either not carry concealed or carry concealed in such a way that there is no likely way you will be detected. Neither is desirable. The best workaround I’ve found is to try to obtain non-resident concealed carry permits for the states where it’s possible. I know for Massachusetts, I’ve had to overcome significant hurdles to obtain a License to Carry in Massachusetts and it only applies to some places, in some conditions. Connecticut was surprisingly easier than I imagined. Rhode Island, I’ve had no luck just because I don’t want to waste the time and energy. In all of those cases, there was a significant amount of fingerprinting, pistol courses, interviews (Massachusetts), and money.
Disclaimer: USA Carry does not condone carrying firearms into states, businesses or private property that you are legally not allowed to carry a firearm in.