5 Things You Need To Know About CCW Across State Lines

5 Things You Need To Know About CCW Across State Lines

5 Things You Need To Know About CCW Across State Lines


A lot of responsible concealed carriers have gotten themselves in trouble.  They didn’t pay attention when they were crossing state lines.  All it takes is getting pulled over once and failing to do all of these five things in order to wind up in a hot mess of legal trouble.  Concealed carriers, be advised, ignore these five tips at your own peril.

1.  Concealed Carry Reciprocity – Do You Have It?

Before you drive across that state line, do you know if that state honors your state’s concealed carry permit?  Unfortunately, there is no one concealed carry permit issued by one state that has reciprocity across all fifty plus the District of Columbia.  It’s because of this that you need to do your homework to find out which states acknowledge your state’s concealed carry permit.

Some states have no reciprocity.  These following states, for example, only honor their own concealed carry permits.

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York

If you have your concealed carry permit on you and you don’t have a resident concealed carry permit issued by that state when you’re in it – you’re in the wrong.

Good Rule:  Before you leave, check your route across the states.  If you cross into a state that doesn’t honor your state’s CCW, check rule #2.

2.  Vehicle Gun Safes – How Do You Plan To Lock Up Your Guns?

Some states require you to lock up your firearms when not in use.  If you are driving across state lines, it’s a good idea to bring a locking case.  Not only can a vehicle gun safe help secure your concealed carry firearms when you’re not using them – it’s peace of mind when dealing with law enforcement in gun-restrictive states.

Good Rule:  If you run into a state that doesn’t share reciprocity with yours, store your unloaded firearm in a separate locked container apart from the ammunition in the trunk of your vehicle.  That way, you can claim the Firearm Owners Protection Act.

3.  Do You Have A Duty To Inform?

In some states, if you’re asked for your concealed carry permit by law enforcement, you have to show proof.  In most cases, this is just your valid concealed carry permit from your state.  Did you know, though, that some states require you to inform a police officer before he asks?  Are you traveling through one of those states?  If you are, you need to notify law enforcement prior to them asking.

These are just some of the states require you to tell the police officer (or law enforcement official) that you are armed.

There are probably other states that require you to inform law enforcement but all states require you to hand over your concealed carry permit if asked.

Good Rule:  When pulled over by a police officer, hand over your concealed carry permit alongside your driver’s license and registration.  This lets him know you are a valid concealed carry permit holder.

4.  Are You In A State That Restricts Magazine Capacity?

As weird as this is – some states have strict regulation on the size of magazines for pistols and rifles.  If you are in a state that says it’s not okay to have a magazine for a pistol with more than 10 rounds, don’t bring a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.  As inconvenient as this is, it can save you a lot of heartache.  Law enforcement will have to confiscate those magazines if they see them.

Good Rule:  Check the states you’ll be traveling through to make sure they don’t have magazine restrictions.  If they do, don’t bring those magazines.

5.  Frequently Fly?  Bring Your Firearms Through Checked Baggage.

As long as your concealed carry firearm is unloaded and stored in a locked container, you should be able to check it as baggage through either the airlines or Amtrak.  Neither will let you bring your concealed carry pistol or revolver with you as carry on but they will let you transport it.  Your ammunition needs to be stored in its original box – not in the magazine.

If you’ve followed all the previous four rules, such as:

  • checking reciprocity with your destination
  • a safe place to store your firearm
  • knowing your duty to inform
  • knowing if your destination has magazine restrictions

then five is going to be easy.  As long as you inform the clerk during the check-in process, he or she will be able to walk you through the process.

Good Rule:  Inform the clerk at the baggage counter that you want to transport your firearm through checked baggage.  He or she will guide you through the rest of the process. Also check the website of the particular airline you are using, as each of them have slightly different rules.

And if you need to mail your concealed carry firearm to your destination – make sure to ship from a business with a Federal Firearm License to another business with an FFL.  This is the easiest way to ensure your firearm reaches its final destination.

These five tips will reduce 95% of the headache and stress of crossing state lines with your concealed carry pistol or revolver.  Ultimately, though, it’s up to you to do the research to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.  And if you live in a constitutional carry state, your state still has an issuing process for moving across state lines.  Check it out before doing so.

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  • Bowserb

    Good information here. That lockbox is essential for those who travel in an SUV, van or station wagon. Mag limits. Makes a 1911 seem like a good travel gun, doesn’t it? If you can’t have lots of rounds on tap, at least make them big. I wonder if any state besides New York, or the other no-reciprocity states, has less than 10 rounds as the mag limit? If not, then a Smith M&P-45 or Sig P227 would work with their 10 round standard .45acp magazines. I would avoid the no-reciprocity states in any case. As to duty to inform, I read conflicting info on Texas. My reading of Massad Ayoob and Tom Gresham’s videos all suggest a safe procedure for informing an officer and that you should inform even if not required by law. LEOs have a hard job. No need to add stress to it, if you can avoid it.

    • Yeah most of the time just pass the card over and say to the officer do you need the gun? Guess what often the officer will appreciative being informed.

  • Nobody

    #3 is WRONG. Not all states require you to hand over your carry license if asked. Georgia, for example, does not. You are not required to inform, and it is illegal for an officer to detain you (an officer can ask all they want, but cannot detain or demand the carry permit) just because you carry.

    Why? Because carrying is not necessarily illegal. It requires a license, yes. But just like with driving, you cannot be detained just to make sure you have that license — the reason many states are declaring mandatory stop license/insurance/DUI checks unconstitutional.

    I know Georgia is not the only state with such laws.

    • Steven

      If you are carrying, and a license is required to carry, you ARE required to show your license when asked. By your logic, you don’t have to show your driver’s license when asked, even if you are driving. Even if you happen to be legally accurate, your statement is BEGGING for an unpleasant court BATTLE.

      • Nobody

        Before I get to the rest of my reply, I need to make sure we’re on the same page here: I described scenarios in terms of being detained versus not being detained. You, however, seem to have that confused.

        And maybe you’re describing your draconian home State, where every time the Gestapo wish, they can demand your papers, Comrade. But not in most States.

        In a tier 1 stop, in which an officer is making contact, you are not being detained. You are not required to produce ID, and you do not have to produce a carry permit. The officer may ask as much as he wants, but cannot demand it. And you may politely refuse, and go on your way.

        If the officer escalates to detaining you (not necessarily cuffing, in case you get that confused, too; I don’t want to take these chances), a tier 2 stop, you are compelled to not leave; you must remain there. If you do leave while being detained, you will be charged with fleeing. But an officer cannot detain you without RAS. Carrying, in Georgia, does not constitute RAS. An officer cannot detain you to demand your ID just because you are seen to be carrying.

        And no, it is not begging for an unpleasant court all-caps battle. It takes getting the officer’s information, and filing a complaint.

        If the police in your home state are such power-hungry maniacs, I suggest you get in touch with your representatives and do something about it.

        • Steven

          I described scenarios in terms of being detained versus not being detained.

          That is a FLAT OUT LIE. In ANY state that required you to have a license to do ANYTHING, you can be ARRESTED for doing whatever it is, without being able to SHOW the license. The rest of your BS can’t possibly be worth reading.

          • Nobody

            Calm your tits, Sally. What I said is factually true.

  • Here’s something not covered here: Traveling on a motorcycle. I have panniers and a topcase that lock as well as a glove box that locks. I’ve been told that they are suitable enough that they lock so as to store my pistol, but it would be good to know for sure. Another thing is legality of ammo. Doesn’t NJ have a law against hollow points? That could be a problem for many and has been for some. I would also say never hand over your CCW if you have no gun with you. It just causes more problems.

    • Robert Schwab

      I’m not an attorney or law enforcement, but have been told by a LEO that the NJ Hollow point law is an add on crime. You can own and posses them as well as use for home defense legally. If you are caught I the act of a crime and found in possession of HP ammo, there is additional penalties. (An actual common sense gun law IMO) Other than that it’s pretty much a commie state. You pretty much can’t get a carry permit in NJ regardless though.

      • And if you travel through jersey and your stuff isn’t stored right or they don’t think so and you have hollow points, guess what, you’ve committed a crime. It’s happened to people.

    • Me

      Who cares about NJ. Solution, don’t go.there!

      • Try getting to Long Island from the south west without going through jersey. It’s possible, but adds to the trip and a PITA.

        • maria.munn
        • Waldland

          Nearly everything is SW of LI & ALL the driving to there is a PITA. Take your best shot.

    • Luke McCoy

      Hey James, we are working on an article about motorcycle carry.

      • Thank you.

      • Michael Watkins

        When do you believe we might see this?

  • Nobody

    A good suggestion in my opinion is to find, if there is one, the forum of a pro-carry group in the state. Be a little picky; there are some out there which will advocate “peaceful rebellion” which might land you in trouble, so again just be careful.

    Back on topic: A good group will be able to advise you on the finer points of the law where you are headed, and possibly the areas through which you travel. Some things to consider are:

    Whether no-gun signs carry weight of the law. In some areas, entering a business with a sign prohibiting guns will land you in a little or a lot of trouble. In some areas, you have to be specifically asked to leave, and the only charge you would face is trespassing, but only if you refuse to leave.

    What constitutes an off-limits location to carry. In some places, there are so many public areas where carry is prohibited, it is a burden to travel within a city. In some places, only court houses and other very specific government buildings restrict carry. Some places have a thousand-foot prohibition around school property, meaning if you get pulled over in a school zone you’ll be in deep doodie. Technically you’d be committing a crime by driving through with your firearm(s) in the vehicle. Some states have done away with this, while some have only excepted resident permits, leaving permits from states with reciprocity out of luck.

    Tennessee is a good place to consider for how confusing carry laws can be. Their laws have changed a lot recently. There was one law which made carry in parks legal, unless the park had previously had a no-gun sign up, in which case carrying could land someone in trouble.

    Another good reason state-specific gun boards are a great resource is asking about trouble with law enforcement, poor implementation of the law, and finding out about specific destinations during your visit.

    In some states it is perfectly legal for a cop to detain you and check your papers, Comrade, because you carry. Or it is completely illegal to print, and the wrong wrinkle can land you in trouble. Or in some jurisdictions the cops can just be jerks.

    In some areas, the law is interpreted far from what is written, to mean something entirely different. It leads to places which are, per the law, legal to carry, being marked (or even worse, not marked) off-limits, and police will enforce an anti-carry policy where there is none. Alabama’s rest areas are a good example.

    As far as specific destinations, there are many tourist attractions which may prohibit carry, and enforce it with gate security. Some of these may simply turn you away, while rarely (but occasionally) there are those which will hold your carry or other prohibited items (pocket knives for example) if you know how to approach their security. Being turned away at the door of the zoo or aquarium because you took a cab, and don’t have somewhere to store your weapon, can really put a damper on your trip.

    Finding out whether the state has preemption is also vital. You don’t want to just read the state’s law, only to find out that the county has even stricter laws, and that the city you visit does not allow carry — period. Or something to that effect. Knife laws in Alabama are not preempted, which means something in your pocket which is legal in Birmingham might get a completely different reaction if an officer sees you cutting a string with it in Montgomery.

    The specifics of vehicle carry is also vital. Some states allow one method only for those with in-state resident permits, while people with no permit must do something else, and someone with a permit from a state with reciprocity have to do something else.

    There are plenty of things as well, which may be unique to your destination that I cannot think of now, and all the better reason to find a pro-carry forum in the area you’ll be visiting.

  • Green Hornet

    If I have gun in lock box and get stopped for , lets say speeding, I’m not going to volunteer anything!
    -Do everything you can to avoid states you can’t carry in
    -No permit, use lock box
    -get stopped don’t say a thing, take ticket and drive away

    • Gary Stanley

      If you’re in a must inform state and don’t you are asking for trouble. When the LEO runs your plate and driver’s license, they will know if you have a permit.

      • Ed

        what if your permit is from another state that has reciprocity? and what if you’re not carrying, but just transporting in a locked box? unless i’m actually carrying on my person and have a permit from that state in which i’m stopped, and that state requires to inform even if not asked, then i’m keeping quiet like green hornet says.

        • Jonathan Swift

          I think everyone should write their state legislature and demand that the reciprocity of driver’s licenses be revoked from all states that do not recognize all licenses from our state.

      • David

        In my opinion, LEO is not my friend even when stopped for a seemingly minor traffic violation. As such, I’m not going to admit to anything including being CCW permit holder, unless I’m actually carrying the weapon when stopped. I’ve read stories about honest people trying to do the right thing but get arrested anyway. [Too many prosecutors looking to make an ordinary citizen into a felon.] The LEO doesn’t need to know I have an unloaded pistol locked in the trunk. And if they happen to know I have a CCW Permit, then I forgot to mention it. So go ahead and haul me away and make an example out of me. It would have happened anyway.

  • David Loeffler

    “if you need to mail your concealed carry firearm to your destination –
    make sure to ship from a business with a Federal Firearm License to
    another business with an FFL. This is the easiest way to ensure your
    firearm reaches its final destination.”
    As a dealer I would not really want to get involved. One can ship to oneself, yes, but if you ship a firearm through a dealer we have to put it on our books, on both sides, which means you have to go through a NICS background check. That might not be possible given the different rules in different states and the federal restriction on handguns only to recipients who are residents of a state. You can’t pass a background check on a handgun if you ship to yourself in another state.

    I am NOT an attorney so this is just my take you can ship to yourself to a trusted recipient (an outfitter, say), make sure the box is not opened by anyone but you, the addressee, clearly marked “Personal and Confidential”, for example. Do the same on the return.

    • Its just easier and cheaper for a lot of people to ship through a FFL. A number of gun shops do a lot of business shipping guns for people that move for example and only charge ten dollars to ship and the other shop charges ten dollars to receive.

  • William Sullivan

    Fascism is in full swing.

    • bjensen

      Funny you say that while the tides could again shift in the opposite direction, ccw has become more common place in recent years and with fewer restrictions in a lot of cases….But hey, what ever helps you sleep at night.

  • Richard Pyne

    Utah law does not require that you have your Utah Concealed Firearm Permit in your possession, only that it has been issued and not suspended or revoked.

  • bjensen

    If you travel a lot I’d suggest finding a copy of The 2015 Travelers Guide To Firearm Laws Of The Fifty States (runs about $15). It’s a great resource, though not all inclusive, so it’s also worth checking anything you are unsure of with the Attorney Generals Office of any states you may be traveling to or thru.

  • Gary Stanley

    “Concealed carry 50 state guide” is a good reference app.

    • Gary Stanley

      I travel through Illinois for work on occasion. No reciprocity with my Michigan permit. I learned from this app that I don’t have to store my gun if I’m just passing through.

  • James Lewis

    Do not let the airline clerk “walk you through it”. Too many have no clue. I have had to walk several clerks through their own airline and TSA procedures. One wanted me to demonstrate it was unloaded. One said I had to leave my bag unlocked or have a TSA lock, as the TSA would have to look inside my bag. I carry the airline’s own instructions and TSA rules with me.

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    I realize it is not necessarily a Bright Idea, but there is no Federal requirement to have a permit to carry Open or Concealed. The 2nd Amendment is the license, and it does not specify method of carry or type of weapon allowed to carry. It has been assumed they refer to the weapon of the times, which for all intents and purposes would hold true for today. Violating our Constitutional Right is not legal as the Supreme Court has time and again proven. Why is it taking so long for state laws violating our right, to be put to rest? They are a waste of tax $$ and ruinous to the security of the nation and the lives of many.

    • There is an good idea how it’s possible to get paid $95 hour… After being without work for six months , I started working over this internet company and now I possibly can not be more satisfied. After 3 months doing this my income is around 5000 dollarsmonth If this interests you: 1)navigate to the site link in description

  • JAson Yaj

    Wonder if anyone can shine a light on this. I know that Florida don’t recognize mn cwp, but they have a statue stating you can have a loaded firearm in your vehicle if it’s in a inclosure? So what I’m questioning is even though I won’t be able to legally carry in FL, can I still have it inside my car or property and still be protected by their castle doctrine? Can’t seem to find a answer?

  • disqus_7zb85o2umG

    Common sense question: What if you’re traveling with your gun (for protection from car jackers, ghetto neighborhoods u can’t avoid, etc.) How the hell you gonna defend yourself from the thugs you’re carrying to protect yourself from in the first place if your gun is locked away in a mobile Fort Knox?

  • slarebiLllAetanimretxE

    New Carrier in Tennessee…..

    Just trying to get some solid confirmation on traveling from TN-MI
    I realize that if i get pulled over I am required to inform officers that I am carrying a loaded weapon.Looks like I should have no problems as far as traveling but Does KY,OH,or MI have a max capacity magazine law?Mine has a capacaity of 11+1 as well as one empty 11+1 magazine.Never carried over state lines before want to stay legal.

  • Joi

    I remember once I got stopped for speeding and the cop just kept saying over and over i see you have a CCW. I just looked at him. Then he was like congrats on that. I thought that was weird for him to say. Maybe it was because I am a female. But I now think he was just waiting for me to say that I was carrying or looking for a reason to search my car or something. I said nothing and looked at him and all he did was smile then gave me my ticket.