What is CCW Reciprocity?
In the United States there is no federal law that governs concealed carry permits, so the states have made a patchwork of laws that make carrying a concealed weapon, also referred to as ccw, more complex. At the same time, carrying a concealed weapon has become more common as more states enact laws allowing their citizens to carry and making it easier to get a concealed carry permit. Many states will honor a permit issued by another state in what is known as ccw reciprocity.
Because these laws vary widely across the country, even with ccw reciprocity it is not possible to legally bring your concealed weapon into every state. At this time, Illinois is the only state that does not allow for concealed carry weapons at all and therefore, does not honor any other state’s ccw licenses.
On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont neither issues nor requires permits, allowing her citizens and visitors to carry concealed weapons without restriction.
Most states that do issue permits have as part of their ccw reciprocity agreements that they will honor a permit or license issued by another state as long as the requirements to get that license are substantially the same. That means if you live in Vermont you cannot rely on ccw reciprocity to bring your weapon to any of your neighboring states. In fact, the only other state to honor Vermonters’ concealed carry rights is Alaska, another state that does not require a concealed carry permit.
Some states that do not require concealed carry permits do have a process by which a citizen may still get a permit. Alaska has followed this model and by doing so, their permit holders can take advantage of ccw reciprocity agreements and legally carry in all but thirteen states. Without the permit the only state where Alaskans can legally carry is Vermont.
Several states will issue an out of state concealed carry license. These tend to be recognized by fewer states, but are the only choice for Vermonters since they do not have the option of getting a permit in order to meet ccw reciprocity requirements. Out of state permits are also useful for citizens of a state where the permit is not widely honored, perhaps because their regulations are more lenient than others. By getting non-resident permits, an American can widen their ability to legally carry concealed weapons practically coast to coast.
Wyoming, like Vermont and Alaska, does not require citizens to have a permit to conceal and carry weapons. Again, similar to Alaska, residents may obtain a permit for ccw reciprocity purposes. Non-residents traveling to Wyoming must have a concealed carry permit, either from their home state or from another state in order to carry while in the Cowboy State.
Montana is another state that will issue permits for ccw reciprocity reasons but does not require citizens to have a permit, as long as they are carrying in unincorporated parts of the state. Once you wander into any incorporated city or town in Big Sky Country, then you must have a concealed carry permit.
It is important to note that even with ccw reciprocity agreements, local laws trump your state’s permit. Since the laws vary widely it is critical to know the laws of any jurisdiction you visit. In addition, although there is not a federal concealed carry permit, it is against the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act to carry a firearm within 1000 feet of a K-12 public school.