Many gun enthusiasts have been actively following the case of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who is being held in a Mexican jail since accidently crossing the border with three handguns. Although many do not understand why an agreement cannot be worked out for Tahmooressi’s release, it is easy to understand how crossing an international border with firearms can be troublesome. But do you realize he same thing can happen by simply crossing from one state to another without ever leaving the United States?
One of the great benefits of living in a democracy with a strong federal government is the unrestricted movement across internal borders. Persons and vehicles can move easily from shore to shore without fear of checkpoints, detention or need for special permits.
Unless you are carrying a firearm.
Although the right to keep and bear arms remains a hotly contested legal concept, there are over a century of court decisions confirming an individual’s right to do so. However, many of these same courts have ruled that individual states retain the right to impose “reasonable” restrictions, including the right to issue permits for the concealed carry of handguns.
At first glance, the requirement that gun owners be licensed appears no more restrictive than similar licensing requirements for driving. Unfortunately, while each state readily accepts both driver licenses and vehicle registrations from all other states, they do not convey that same level of acceptance to permits for the carrying of firearms.
According to the National Rifle Association, only Vermont allows citizens of any state to legally carry a firearm with its borders. All other states apply a variety of requirements concerning concealed carry by not only its own residents but also those who may visit, or merely pass through.
There are no shortage of stories involving otherwise law abiding citizens, legally licensed to carry a firearm in their home state, being arrested and facing potential prosecution after transporting that firearm into a neighboring state which does not recognize the out of state permits.
- Shaneen Allen, a single mom from Philadelphia, faces felony weapons charges after volunteering she had a handgun in her possession during a minor traffic stop in New Jersey.
- Meredith Graves, a 39 yr old Louisville woman, was arrested after attempting to check her handgun while visiting the World Trade Center because there was a sign announcing “No guns allowed.”
Each of these individuals became defendants for one reason – they mistakenly believed their state issued permits were valid in other states which happened to have much more restrictive regulations in place. You can help to avoid similar problems by understanding the laws in not only your state, but also those of any states you plan on traveling to or even through.
U.S. Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map: Allows the user to select the state from which they obtained their permit(s) and provides a list of states which recognizes your permit(s). The map graphic allows for easier planning of travel routes bypassing potential trouble states.
TSA Traveling with Special Items – Firearms & Ammunition: The first step in legally traveling aboard commercial airliners with a firearm is to understand the TSA requirements. However, travelers must understand that they are subject to state and local regulations at both the point of departure AND final destination. Furthermore, individual airlines may enact more restrictive policies.
AMTRAK Traveling with Special Items: If traveling by railway, you will still need to be aware of legal requirements at point of departure, final destination and any potential disembarking points along the way. You will also need to follow AMTRAK regulations regarding storage and advance declaration.
If you have any specific questions concerning the legal status of your firearms in another state, the best process is to contact the issuing authority in that jurisdiction and ask. You should also attempt to obtain a written copy of the local regulations for later reference if the need should arise.