Concealed Carry Reciprocity: Practical Advice Before You Travel


Concealed Carry Reciprocity, Sig P232.

Before you take a trip across state lines, heed this key advice on concealed carry reciprocity before you encounter the police.

Reader “allendavis58” asked about concealed carry reciprocity. (“Reciprocity” refers to certain states that may recognize the concealed carry permits issued by other states.)

Here's some practical advice from my perspective as a retired cop.

Imagine yourself getting “made” [Someone notices your concealed gun. – Editor]  in a state that is not the one that issued your permit. The cops are called. The officer asks you for your CCW permit and says, “I don’t know if this is valid here.”

“But they told me it was when I got it,” you say. “And I checked it on the Internet.”

Most cops couldn’t care less about what is legal in your state of residence. And you need to presume that many cops will not know if your out-of-state permit is valid in their jurisdiction. Do not expect that they have some magic “list” in their patrol car for a ready reference.

Getting a definitive answer on the validity of your permit may take only minutes or it may take a lot longer. Whether you are detained until that is reconciled or let go with an admonition would probably be considered within the realm of “officer discretion” in most areas.

But there is one important thing you can do to make it easier for cops where you travel to send you on your way with a handshake and a smile: Get a citation that documents the reciprocity agreement between your home state and the state in which you're traveling.

A reciprocity agreement is going to be documented somewhere. It may be in state criminal law or in your state's Department of Justice rules and regulations.

When you get your permit, be firm that you need a “citation” that documents the reciprocity in the state you will be traveling through.

If you already have your permit, get back in touch with your instructor and ask them to help you find the necessary citations. If the vendor that issues your permit claims multi-state validity as a sales point, the burden of proof is on them to provide citations. Confirm this before you take the class.

Now imagine you are back in the situation described above. If any question exists about reciprocity you tell the officer, “The citation for reciprocity in (state) is DOJ policy 162-(a) 12.” This gives the officer something easy to check and may—I say again “may”—get you a smile and a “No worries, buddy” send off without even doing the check.

We always need to remember that the most important law is the law of necessity. You do what you gotta do.

Just be sure you get a citation for each non-resident state you plan to travel in, even if you have to pay an attorney to research it for you.

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  1. Thanks, that’s good advice. We are retiring to Northern Michigan from Arizona. I will need to research Michigan, and every state we will drive through to get there. We plan to try to avoid passing through Illinois 🙂

  2. Right on, “mstrmstr”. It’s a big mistake to think of an out-of-state permit as an “entitlement”. Fortunately, most officers, at least of my acquaintance, think of CCW holders as the good guys. If you have a citation handy, that demonstrates prior effort to be cooperative and respect for the laws of the state in which you are a visitor. Thanks for your comment.

  3. There is a lot to be said about being polite and prepared.
    DO NOT start by the know it all attitude spouting you have rights.
    You do, but, at the officers discretion on how long it takes to release you!


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