Concealed Carry Reciprocity: Overriding State Public Safety Laws

Bottom Line: Concealed carry reciprocity would force each state to recognize the concealed carry standards from every other state, even those that have dramatically weaker standards. Law enforcement overwhelmingly opposes this legislation, which would put police in danger of being sued for doing their jobs.

  • Reciprocity would force states to let violent offenders and people with no firearm safety training carry hidden, loaded handguns—even if those people could not otherwise legally purchase a gun in the state.
  • Legislation pushed by the gun lobby (H.R. 38; S.498) would even force states to allow concealed carry by many people with no permit whatsoever—allowing people who have never been screened by a background check to carry throughout the country.

Reciprocity would be an extraordinary encroachment on states’ rights.

  • State concealed carry permitting systems vary dramatically. Each state sets its own requirements for carrying concealed, loaded guns in public. For example, some states require extensive firearms training, while others issue permits to people with no training. And some systems are so ineffectively run that they issue permits to people with felonies.
  • Three in four Americans live in a state that refuses to recognize all or some out-of-state carry permits. For nearly one in three Americans, their home state does not recognize any out-of-state permits.32.5% of Americans live in CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OR, or RI, states that do not recognize any out-of-state permits. 2015 Census estimates. In most other US states, only some out-of-state permits are recognized—typically those with equivalent or higher standards.75.3% of Americans live in either a state that does not recognize any out-of-state permits or else one of the following states that do not recognize all out-of-state permits: AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, KS, LA, ME, MN, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, ND, PA, SC, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY. 2015 Census estimates.
  • Reciprocity simply overrides these states’ laws. It would force each state to recognize permits for all out-of-state residents—even if the permit holder would otherwise not be allowed to possess a gun.
    • Under H.R. 38, a person denied a permit in his home state—e.g. after a criminal conviction—could simply get an out-of-state permit, and carry back at home.

Reciprocity would have a profound impact on state public safety, making the state with the weakest standards into the law of the land, and letting criminals and other dangerous people carry concealed guns in every state in the country.

  • No Training: Thirty-nine states and Washington DC require gun safety training for any permit applicant,AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI, WY and 25 of those states and DC require live-fire training experience.AK, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, IL, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MN, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OK, RI, SC, TN, TX, WV Reciprocity would force all states to allow concealed carry without any training whatsoever.
  • Certain Domestic Abusers: Thirty-five states and DC deny permits to abusive boyfriends (in addition to husbands) convicted of abuse and/or subject to domestic violence restraining orders.CA, CT, DE, FL, DC, HI, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, and WV. Vermont does not issue a concealed carry permit, but does bar certain abusive boyfriends from having or carrying firearms. Under reciprocity, these abusers could carry hidden weapons across the country.
  • People Who Pose a Danger: Thirty states and DC allow law enforcement to deny applicants who pose a danger to the public.AL. AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, HI, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MO, MT, NJ, NY, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, UT, VA, WY Local authorities may know a person has a red flag in their history—for example, domestic disturbances, assault arrests, or dangerous mental health issues. In several states, the law also requires an applicant to demonstrate “good cause” (or a similar showing) in order to get a permit. Reciprocity would gut those laws.
  • Violent Criminals: Thirty states and DC deny permits to people convicted of crimes of violence.AK, CA, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, IL, IA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, TX, UT, VA, WV. These states block people convicted of a) misdemeanor "crimes of violence," as classified by the state; or of b) certain serious violent misdemeanors such as assault and battery, threatening, or crimes committed with a weapon. Some disqualifiers lapse after several years. Alaska disqualifies people with multiple offenses. New Jersey disqualifies offenders convicted of offenses punishable by more than 6 months. While New Jersey crimes in this category are generally punishable by at least 18 months, misdemeanor crimes from other states are disqualifying in New Jersey. Reciprocity would allow people with violent criminal convictions to carry across the country, even if they are barred from possessing guns at all in a given state.
  • Convicted Stalkers: Twenty-eight states and DC will not grant permits to convicted stalkers.AZ, CA, CO, DE, DC, HI, IL, IN, IA, LA, MD, MA, MI, MN, NV, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WI. Vermont does not issue a concealed carry permit, but does bar convicted stalkers from having or carrying firearms Reciprocity would override those states’ laws and force them to allow people with stalking convictions to carry hidden, loaded guns.
  • Teenagers: Thirty-five states and DC will only issue permits to people 21 and older.AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, IA, KY, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MS, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WY Eighteen-to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at a rate nearly four times higher than adults 21 and older. Reciprocity would force these states to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to carry.
  • Drunk Drivers: Twenty-seven states and DC won’t give permits to people with multiple DUIs within the past 3 years. Reciprocity would enable these people to carry across the country.AK, AR, CO, CT, DC, FL, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NV, NM, NY, NC, OK, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV. MD and PA bar people with three recent offenses and IA bars people with three or more recent arrests and one conviction.
  • Felons and Other Prohibited People: States vary widely in the quality and effectiveness of their permitting. Some states have such poorly administered systems that they have mistakenly granted permits to (or failed to revoke permits from) people legally prohibited from having guns under federal law.Everytown for Gun Safety, “Federally Mandated Concealed Carry Reciprocity: How Congress Could Undercut State Laws on Guns in Public”, January 2015, available at: Under reciprocity, all states would have to recognize permits from states that inadvertently issue to felons and other dangerous people.

The gun lobby’s legislation would even allow people from several states with no permit whatsoever to carry firearms across the country.

  • Twelve states have effectively dismantled their permit systems, dramatically lowering their standards to carry in public and removing any permitting or background check requirement. H.R. 38 and S.446 would force all states to allow residents from those “permitless” states to carry with no permit whatsoever.

This legislation would present serious risks to law enforcement and would even put officers in danger of being sued for trying to confirm the validity of an out-of-state permit.

  • Unlike with driver’s licenses, police often have no way to verify the validity of an out-of-state permit—meaning they would be unable to confirm if a person presenting a carry permit is a law-abiding gun owner. And because some bills would even allow concealed carry by people from states with no permit whatsoever, out-of-state visitors would be armed without being screened by a background check—and law enforcement would have no permit to evaluate.
    • Some legislation would put police in danger of lawsuits if they attempt to verify a permit.
  • Law enforcement organizations have denounced concealed carry reciprocity—including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Foundation to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which includes the Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs of the sixty-six largest law enforcement organizations in the country.National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, April 15, 2013, available at:

The gun lobby has been trying to pass reciprocity legislation for over two decades.

  • Gun lobby-backed Congress members have introduced more than two dozen billsH.R. 2634 (1995); H.R. 3838 (1996); H.R. 2722 (1997); H.R. 407 (1997); H.R. 950 (2001); S.514 (2001); H.R. 990 (2003); H.R. 1243 (2005); H.R. 226 (2007); S.388 (2007); H.R. 861 (2007); H.R. 5782 (2008); S.3207 (2008); H.R. 197 (2009); S.371 (2009); S.Amdt.579 to S.160 (2009); H.R. 1620 (2009); S.Amdt.1618 to S.1390 (2009), H.R. 822 (2011); S.2188 (2012); S.2213 (2013); H.R. 578 (2013); H.R. 2959 (2013); H.R. 986 (2015); S.498 (2015); H.R. 402 (2015) to override state laws on who is too dangerous to carry concealed weapons on their streets. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now part of Everytown, has led the fight to defeat these bills—including when 58 senators voted for it in 2009S.Amdt.1618 to S.1390 (2009). and when it passed the House in 2011.H.R. 822 (2011)