If you are planning a road trip, and want to be sure you don’t unwittingly break any state laws by carrying your favorite weapon, you will need to do a little research before you hit the road.
Some states offer courtesy reciprocity agreements with your own state. Some limit the way you can carry and others refuse to recognize your right to carry at all.
The best bet is to look up the rules for each state where you will be traveling. You will also need to be sure that the information you have is current. Ignorance of the law, won’t help your case and (depending on the state) may actually land you in jail.
Some states don’t allow firearms in vehicles at all (like Illinois and Wisconsin), while others require the weapon to be locked up and/or unloaded while traveling.
To determine the best way to travel across state lines with your weapon(s), you will need to preplan your trip and look up the most recent information on each state where you plan to travel. Laws do change, so don’t use old information. It’s probably best to call the appropriate agency for each state immediately prior to embarking on your trip. (A complete list of these agencies (with contact information) is available in a great little book: Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States.)
Some of the information which may impact your travel plans include:
- Do you possess a concealed carry license?
- Was your CCL issued in the state where you live?
- Is the weapon a pistol or a rifle?
- Will it be loaded?
- Will it be carried in open view?
To begin your pre-trip preparation, you may want to visit the NRA’s page on Interstate Transport of Firearms or the very active USA Carry site’s map. Either way, you should still contact the official state office to make sure you know the latest information before you enter the state.