Disclaimer: This document was prepared as a service to our students. Since laws relating to concealed carry change constantly, we make no claims as to the accuracy of the information contained within and ask that you make us aware of any inaccuracies as you acquire your out-of-state permits. I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice! Nothing herein should be taken as such. Ignorance of the law is no excuse!
Unlike driver's licenses, states generally do not honor one another's licenses for the concealed carriage of weapons (``CCW''). It would be very nice if states ``gave full faith and credit'' to one another's licenses, and there has been an ongoing effort by gun rights advocates to establish a national concealed carry permit. Unfortunately, creation of such a permit does not seem likely in the near future.
Many, but not all, states will issue licenses to non-residents as well as residents. This document is a guide to the process.
Violation of state law regarding firearms is very serious indeed. Fines, arrest, high lawyer's fees, and revocation of one's license await those who do so. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with the laws of both your home state and of all states through which you wish to travel armed. The National Rifle Association publishes an excellent brochure Interstate Transportation of Personally-Owned Firearms (Document NL3N 0202), as well as brochures outlining the laws of each state.
In general, I recommend getting as many out-of-state licenses as possible. One reason is convenience: having a license for adjacent states allows you to carry in your home state and make unexpected trips without having to drop off your gun at home. Another reason is political: if your home state trusts you to carry a firearm concealed, are you any less trustworthy once you have crossed the state line?
When applying for an out-of-state permit, always include photocopies of all the permits you hold, even if only a copy of your home state permit is required. I believe that doing so demonstrates your seriousness about complying with the law regarding firearms. Since some licensing officers are permitted by law to exercise a great deal of discretion in granting permits, demonstrating how many states have granted you the privilege of concealed carry would make the officer feel somewhat foolish for denying you without reason.
When applying for any permit, be aware of who the licensing agency is, as well as its jurisdiction. For example, in Massachusetts, all out-of-state permits are issued by one central authority. You have no choice; you must deal with the Department of Public Safety. In Pennsylvania, out-of-state permits are issued (or denied!) by the county of the applicant's choice.
It can be debated whether a single licensing authority is better or worse than local licensing agencies. On the one hand, a single statewide authority guarantees equal treatment for all applicants. States in which licensing is done locally are notorious for imposing quirky and inconsistent requirements on applicants. New York is a prime example: one county may flatly refuse to issue licenses to all applicants, a neighboring county may make it fairly easy to get a license.
As an out-of-state applicant for a pistol license in a state which has local licensing agencies, you may get to pick and choose which license agency to apply to. If you are encountering hostility or a general unwillingness to help from one licensing officer, by all means halt the application process and apply in a different county or town! Many license applications ask if the applicant has ever been refused a license. Rather than get denied by a hostile county and then reapply later with a ``black mark'' on your record, just go elsewhere!
A proper attitude can often smooth the application process. Very often, particularly when dealing with local rather than statewide licensing officials, the licensing officer may be unaware that licenses are indeed issued to out-of-state residents! Patiently waiting for the licensing officer to discover the fact on his or her own is usually more advisable than repeated assertions that such licenses do exist.
If you must meet with the licensing officer as part of the application process you will want to wear proper attire. As an applicant for a concealed carry license, you should be eager to project a favorable image of yourself. Business attire is better than T-shirts and jeans.
Being able to document your competence at safe firearms handling is invaluable. Even when not required, you may wish to enclose photocopies of certificates from NRA-approved gun safety classes. Certificates from Justifiable Use of Force classes are particularly helpful if acquiring the license for self-defense uses.
By far the biggest cause of denials of concealed carry licenses is failure to truthfully answer the question ``have you ever been arrested?'' Your answer will be compared to the results of the background check, and you are really out of luck if they don't agree. If you have ever been arrested, even for a single minor offense, even if the charge was later dropped, you must admit to it! A shoplifting conviction you received ten years ago may or may not be cause for license denial, but failure to list it on the application always is. Conceivably, you could even be charged with a crime for making a false sworn statement.
Every state has its own laws governing concealed carry of firearms and Justifiable Use of Force. State laws may be readily available at the local library or may be sold in handbook form at university libraries---particularly law schools and schools with a Criminal Justice program. State Law is seldom easy reading, but with patience it is usually pretty accessible.
In his book In the Gravest Extreme, Massad Ayoob recommends making contact with a lawyer whom you can call not only if you should ever become involved in a deadly force situation, but also who can explain your state's laws relating to use of force in detail. It seems like good advice to me. Be aware though, that lawyers specialize in different areas of the law. Don't ask your tax attorney for advice about firearms!
Lastly, every state seems to have a book written by a lawyer or private citizen which is sold in gun stores or at gun shows which explains that state's laws relating to licensing, carry, and use of deadly force. In the states where such a book is known to me, it is listed below. Mention of such a book does not indicate I have personally reviewed it, nor do I have any commercial affiliation with any of the authors or publishers. A book is a poor substitute for a class in justifiable use of force taught by a certified and knowledgeable instructor, but is far better than nothing.
Starting on July 17, 1994, Arizona began issuing concealed carry permits. Up until that time, guns could be carried on the person but they had to be exposed and visible. Concealed carry permits are not issued to non-residents.
Residents may write to:
Arizona Dept. of Public Safety Handgun Clearance and Permit Section P.O. Box 6488 Phoenix, AZ 85005One book that has been recommended as an excellent guide to Arizona Firearms Laws is Arizona Gun Owners Guide by Alan Korwin. The ISBN number is 0-9621958-0-0 and is published by Blooomfield Press.
Acquiring a Connecticut pistol permit is a two step process. First, a permit to carry concealed must be acquired from a town. For residents, this would be the town in which the resident lives. For non-residents, any town is acceptable, although choosing a town in which one does business or visits frequently may smooth the process.
The Chief of Police (or in smaller towns, the First Selectman) is the licensing officer and some may be unwilling to issue permits. You may wish to ``shop around''. Be aware that some police officers may be unaware that non-resident licenses even exist!
I received my local permit from the Town of Stratford, which required letters from three character references who had known me for at least five years. Stratford also required me to make an appointment to be fingerprinted at which time I had to present an embossed copy of my birth certificate, as well as proof that I had received instruction in handgun safety within the past year.
A Town of Stratford Pistol License application packet may be obtained by calling (203) 385-4120. Application fee is $29 and, if approved, $5 license fee. Stratford permits are ``good until revoked'' and require no renewals.
Once a local permit has been issued, obtaining a statewide permit is relatively easy. Just call (203) 238-6605 or write to the address below and ask for a state permit application. Complete the application, enclose a photocopy of your local permit, and a check or money order for $25.
Connecticut State Police Weapons Control Division 294 Colony St. Meriden Ct. 06450-2098
I have been told that permit denials made by local law enforcement may be appealed to (and possibly overturned by) a civilian review board, but I have no direct experience with this board.
In 1987, Florida instituted a non-discretionary system making concealed carry permits available to citizens who passed a fingerprint background check and provided a single passport-sized photograph.
On April 1, 1994, permit fees were reduced from $166 to $137 for a three year permit. On July 1, 1995, permit fees were again lowered. Non-resident licenses now cost $117. ($75 for the license and $42 for the fingerprint background check).
Non-resident concealed carry permit renewals are good for three years and cost $65 and require another $42 fingerprint and background check, for a total cost of $107. No repeat background check is required of resident licensee holder.
Florida also requires proof of firearms training. Military service, taking a Hunter Safety course, an NRA-approved class, or law enforcement training satisfies this requirement.
Permit applications may obtained by calling (904) 488-5381.
A book entitled Florida Firearms, Law, Use and Ownership by Jon H. Gutmacher, Esq. has been recommended as a good overview of Florida firearms laws, including purchase, transportation, and use of force laws. I have not personally reviewed it. It costs $19.97 with shipping and tax and may be ordered by calling (305) 760-7505 or writing to the address below.
WARLORD PUBLISHING c/o 1509 N.E. 4th Avenue Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304Idaho
Around 1991, Idaho adopted a non-discretionary concealed carry system. Prior to that time, the county sheriff could revoke applications for lack of proper cause, and most sheriffs issued very few licenses. Now, anyone not specifically prohibited from receiving a license must be issued one. Residents must apply to their local sheriff; non-residents may apply to the county sheriff of their choice. Idaho requires a visit when applying for the license, so choose the county nearest you.
The application fee is $34 -- ($24 for the FBI fingerprint and background check and $10 for the state). Licenses are approved or denied in 30-90 days. Applicants must not be convicted felons, or have any outstanding domestic orders of protection. If approved, an additional $22 licensing fee is charged ($20 for the state and $2 for the sheriff). Licenses are good for four years.
Idaho also requires proof of firearms training. Military service, taking a Hunter Safety course, an NRA-approved class, or law enforcement training satisfies this requirement.
The folks at the Ada County Sheriff's department were most helpful.
Ada County Sheriff (208) 377-6568 7200 Barrister Dr Boise ID 83704-9276Indiana
According to the September 1994 version of the NRA's brochure Indiana State Firearms Laws: ``Licenses to carry handguns, issued by other states or foreign countries, will be recognized according to the terms thereof but only while the holders are not residents of Indiana.''
Call the Maine State Police, Licensing Division at (207) 624-8775 for an application for nonresident Permit to Carry Concealed Firearms.
Or Write to:
Sergeant Barry Hathaway Maine State Police Licensing Division State House station #164 Augusta, ME 04333-0164
or call or visit in person:
Village Square 397 Water Street Gardiner, Maine
Proof of a handgun safety course is required, as are waivers to permit a background check and to check with Maine's two state mental hospitals. Once the background check has been completed, a letter will be sent requesting a signature and 2-4 passport sized photos.
A call to the Maryland State Police Handgun Permit Section (Phone: (410) 298-3222) indicates that Maryland does not issue licenses to those who neither live nor work in Maryland.
Massachusetts residents desiring a concealed carry permit apply to the local Chief of Police and therefore permit issuance is administered differently everywhere. In some localities it is very hard to get a concealed carry permit, in others, it is fairly easy.
Non-resident Massachusetts concealed carry licenses are issued by the Department of Public Safety, and therefore have the benefit of being administered uniformly. Call (617) 727-5720 (Note: the old number 566-4500 is no longer in use.) or write the address below for a non-resident application packet.
Dept of Public Safety Firearms Records Bureau 1 Ashburton Place, Rm 1301 Boston, MA 02108-1618
A photocopy of your concealed carry license from your home state is required, and I suggest enclosing photocopies of any additional licenses you may have. If your home state does not issue licenses, proof of a clean criminal record will suffice. No character references are required. A single set of fingerprints are required, but this does not necessitate a visit to Massachusetts---your local law enforcement may take them for you.
Renewals are required annually and require only a photocopy of your Massachusetts and home state license, and a $10 check or money order payable to the Commissioner of Public Safety.
Warning: The Firearms Records Bureau is chronically backloged. License holders should mail in their annual renewals no fewer than two months before their license expires! Holders of expired licenses, of course, may not legally carry until their renewed license arrives.
According to the March 1994 version of the NRA's brochure Michigan: Your State Firearms Laws: ``No license [to carry a handgun concealed] is required when [...] A person is licensed to carry a handgun in another state.''
Perhaps the easiest non-resident concealed carry license to obtain. In fact, I recommend that New Hampshire be the first non-resident pistol license that you get. It's cheap (only $20) and filling out a simple form is all that's required. Licenses are good for four years.
For an application, simply call the State Police at (603) 271-3575 or write:
NH State Police Permits and License Unit 10 Hazen Drive Concord, NH 03305
New Hampshire requires that you enclose a photocopy of your home state concealed carry license. If your home state does not issue one, passage of the background check is sufficient. No fingerprints are required.
I am sorry to report that New York State does not issue concealed carry licenses to non-residents. Merely owning a home in New York is technically insufficient -- it must be your primary residence. Out-of-state residents who work in New York may acquire premises permits for their place of business, but are not eligible for concealed carry permits.
Licensing in New York State is done by the local licensing officer, the county justices. New York is famously inconsistent in the issuing of licenses from county to county. The book Gun Control in New York State is an excellent guide to the licensing process and use of force. Written by Lt. Lee O. Thomas (NYS Police, Ret.) and Jeffrey Chamberlain, J.D., it clearly describes the license application process as well as appeals procedures. Gun Control in New York may be ordered from the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, PO Box 1023, Troy NY 12181-1023 for $24.50 (including shipping and handling).
It may also be ordered directly from the publisher:
The Gunlock Press PO Box 776 Guilderland, NY 12084 (518) 477-2436Sadly, many county judges place restrictions on concealed carry licenses by rubber-stamping things like ``For Hunting and Target Use Only'' across the face of the license. While nothing in New York State Penal Law (Section 400) gives them the authority to do so, the courts have largely upheld the practice. Carrying concealed for self-protection with a license so restricted would likely result in license revocation. New York gives wide discretion to the judges to issue, deny, and revoke pistol licenses.
Note below that Pennsylvania, which does issue concealed carry licenses to non-residents requires pistol license applicants who reside in New York to have unrestricted licenses. If you are attempting to have such a restriction removed from your New York license, the judge might consider your desire for a Pennsylvania license sufficient reason to remove it.
Resident permits in Pennsylvania are issued by the the County Sheriff. Non-resident permits may be issued by the Sheriff of any county. A trip is required to pick up the permit if it is granted, so choose the county nearest you.
Non-residents must have a home state permit, and they will only issue a carry permit if home state permit allows it.
I chose Pike County, which borders on New York state. Call (717) 296-6459 for an application packet. There is a $5 application fee, and a $9.50 issuance fee. A photocopy of your (unrestricted) license from your home state is required, along with a copy of your driver's license. The application may be submitted by mail, but Pennsylvania requires the applicant to pick up the license in person. Permits are good for three years.
A reader of this guide received his permit from Lehigh County, and reports his permit is good for five years.(Rob Boudrie) Moral: Shop around.
Rhode Island issues permits to non-residents on a discretionary basis. To receive an application packet, send a large (9"x12") self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Attorney General's Office Firearms Licensing 72 Pine Street Providence, RIBe sure to point out you need an application for a new license as well as a fingerprint card, or you might get the renewal application. A CCW from your home state is a big help, but is not required. Your local police chief must sign the application certifying that you live where you claim to, and giving him a chance to comment on your application. Additionally, you must take a basic range test from an NRA certified instructor. Licenses may take up to 45 days to process.
Once issued, you have 14 days to pick up the license in person and have your thumbprint added to the back. Two 1" square photographs are required.
The license costs $20 and is good for two years. For more information about the process, phone the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at the Attorney General's Office at (401) 274-4400, Ext. 2232 or 2254.
Texas does not issue concealed carry permits to either residents or non-residents. Following the October 16, 1991 Luby's Cafeteria shooting in Killeen Texas, there was an ongoing political push for a statewide CCW license. Most notable among the supporters for such a license is Dr. Suzanna Gratia, whose parents were killed in the Luby's shooting, and narrowly escaped death herself. Dr. Gratia became a staunch advocate of the rights of citizens to carry concealed weapons for self-protection. In 1993 the Texas Legislature passed a bill to establish a concealed carry licensing system, which was vetoed by Governor Ann Richards. Prospects for concealed carry licensing brightened considerably when Governor Richards lost her 1994 re-election bid to George Bush, Jr.
In early 1995, Governor Bush signed into law a bill providing for non-discretionary licensing of residents who have a clean criminal record, submit to a background check, provide fingerprints and photographs, and take a handgun safety class from a state-certified instructor. There is no provision for issuing to non-residents.
A book entitled A Matter of Personal Protection... Incorporating the Weapons & Self-Defense Laws of Texas by Doug Briggs has been recommended as a good overview of Texas firearms laws, although I have not personally reviewed it. It is 111 pages and costs $11.95. With the introduction of concealed carry licenses, a revision may be forthcoming. It may be ordered from the address below.
Beverly Book Co. P.O. Box 2869 Spring, TX 77383
According to the July 1994 version of the NRA's brochure Wyoming: State Firearms Laws ``Concealed carrying permits from a state agency in another state are honored.''
Below is a summarization of the above material.
The National Rifle Association publishes information about Federal and State Firearms Laws. The latter are excellent overviews of key provisions governing the ownership and use of firearms in each state.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms publishes a compendium of state laws relating to firearms. It lists which states are exempt from the Brady five-day waiting period due to "instant check" or licensing systems. It is an excellent way to learn the law for any given state. Entitled State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms (ATF P 5300.5 (10/94)) it is shipped free of charge and may be obtained by sending a postcard requesting it by name to:
ATF Distribution Center 7943 Angus Court Springfield, VA 22153
The previous edition, the 19th, was published in December of 1989 and had become woefully out of date. It had a green cover and was commonly referred to as ``the green book''. The 20th edition, published in October 1994, has a blue cover.
Special thanks to David Putzolu, rec.guns FAQ maintainer for providing a forum for this information.
Thanks also to Rob Boudrie and John Mayson for corrections and comments.