Previously, we looked at the honor roll of states that fully protect the rights of travelers to keep and bear arms. Now let’s talk about the other end of the spectrum: the five states that hide behind federalism to justify wholesale denial of a civil right to hundreds of millions of Americans.
This isn’t a dishonorable roll call of the usual anti-gun rights states. I’m listing states that treat non-residents inequitably when it comes to gun rights compared to their own residents.
Three of our Hall of Shamers are “shall issue” states. One in particular has voted for the most pro-gun presidential candidate in every election since 1980. The criteria for the list are:
(1) The state must require a license for concealed carry.
(2) The state either bans or requires a license for open carry of a firearm in all or part of its territory.
(3) Non-residents either cannot apply for a firearms license from the state, or else the application is contingent on some nexus that many Americans would not meet (e.g., owning property in the state.)
(4) The number of out-of-state licenses recognized must be less than 50.
(5) The state will not recognize out-of-state licenses that ARE NOT issued by the non-resident’s home state. (E.g., it won’t recognize a Utah license issued to a resident of Vermont.)
(6) Vehicle carry — licensed or not — didn’t keep anyone off the list. We’re not impressed with laws requiring us to leave a firearm in a vehicle, where it’s hammer blow away from belonging to someone else, when we stop for more salmon avocado rolls and cold brew coffee.
[Note: The Firearm Owners Protection Act provides a legal defense for interstate travelers with firearms during their journey. It does not apply to persons carrying a loaded firearm for self-defense purposes.]
In descending order:
(5) Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s laws on firearms licensing are convoluted, as TTAG’s jefe (and former Rhode Islander) attested.
The RI State Attorney General issues concealed weapons permits on a ‘may issue’ basis. Alternatively or additionally, municipalities issue licenses on a”shall” issue basis.
Non-resident applicants must provide a copy of their “home state permit” — which immediately kicks Vermonters to the curb, as well as anyone else who lives in a state that respects the right to keep and bear arms even less than Rhode Island.
As RF demonstrated repeatedly in the past, Open Carry is permissible in America’s tiniest state — as long as you have an Attorney General-issued Rhode Island carry license (the municipal permits do not allow it, but eliminate the 7-day waiting period for new gun sales).
Reciprocity? None. No out-of-state licenses are recognized.
Persons with a license from their home state may carry a concealed firearm in a vehicle as long as that person does not have “any intent…to detain him or herself or remain within the state of Rhode Island.” So keep on driving, and don’t stop until you get to Vermont, Maine, or New Hampshire.
Oregon isn’t a particularly onerous place to live for the gun-owning community. The state is shall-issue. State law preempts local governments from interfering with open or concealed carry by licensed gun owners. There’s no state law banning open carry, either.
If you’re not a local, though, you might have some difficulties.
Like Rhode Island, the Beaver State doesn’t recognize any out-of-state firearms licenses. Non-residents may apply for an Oregon license only if they reside in one of Oregon’s four bordering states: California, Nevada, Idaho, or Washington. If you live anywhere from Tucson to the Portland on the east coast, you’re excluded.
Non-residents can openly carry a firearm. In theory. The state’s firearms preemption law (ORS 166.170-176) specifically allows local governments to regulate unlicensed open carry.
As a result, some municipalities with a grandstanding left-wing city council (e.g. Portland) have banned unlicensed open carry. There may very well be others. Better research the local ordinances before you cross a city or county line.
Oregon does not require a license for open carry of firearms in a vehicle. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a 2008 Court of Appeals decision held that local government ordinances banning unlicensed open carry in public places applied to people in vehicles, too.
Keep that in mind when driving through the Beaver State on your way to Idaho.
(3) South Carolina
South Carolina! Surely you can’t be serious?
Before you hop on a plane to visit Charleston for the eclipse in August, remember that going South does not necessarily mean you’ll have more firearms freedom.
The home of Strom Thurmond, Ft. Sumter and the BMW Performance Center has always looked a little askance at outsiders. This attitude is reflected in their firearms laws.
If you’re a gun owner who resides in the Palmetto State, life is . . . acceptable. It’s a “shall issue” state. While state law prohibits the carriage of firearms into churches and a few other privately-owned places, the nanny-state gun laws seem no more egregious than average.
For non-residents, however, life is not so good.
Outsiders can only apply for a license if they’re in the military and permanently stationed in the State, or if they own property in South Carolina.And don’t try any of that open carry stuff in the Palmetto state. It’s completely banned, even with a license.
The Palmetto State only has reciprocity with twenty-three other states. The list seems fairly random: Michigan, Texas, and Florida are in, but residents of states generally friendly to the Second Amendment like Iowa, Pennsylvania, Montana, and Indiana can go pound sand.
Those poor souls who managed to jump through the communistically oppressive hoops to get a license in California, Maryland, New York or even New Jersey are also out of luck (they’re probably used to the whole “lack of civil rights’ thing by now).
The birthplace of secession allows law-abiding gun owners to carry a loaded firearm “secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle.”
So if you’re driving through on your way to Atlanta or the OBX, that’s something.
The Land of Lincoln is shall issue territory for its residents. Unlike Oregon and South Carolina, it doesn’t always make things easy for gun owners, especially in Chicago, which is filled with veritable no-gun-zone land-mines for the unwary.
Although Illinois does not recognize any out-of-state licenses, its shall issue law, passed under threat from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to turn the whole state into a Constitutional Carry zone, does allow non-residents to apply for a license.
If, that is, they have a license from their home state. And also if that home state has laws related to firearm ownership, possession, and carrying that are “substantially similar” to those in Illinois.
Why they included this requirement is wholly unclear. It’s not like Illinois grants reciprocity to states that have “substantially similar” firearms laws, or exempts those residents from training.
Being from an “approved” state simply means that out of staters now can apply for an Illinois license — after attending a sixteen hour Illinois training course and mailing in $300. Adding injury to insult, that’s twice as much as residents pay.
In its defense, Illinois does permit travelers without an Illinois license to transport a concealed handgun in their vehicles as long as they’re not prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, and are eligible to carry in their home states.
That said, they have to leave those guns in the car if they get out and walk around. The wise gun owners will probably keep on driving until they get to any of the bordering states.
Contrary to popular belief, the right to keep and bear arms is wounded but not dead in California. Seventy thousand Californians have concealed carry licenses from their state.
A dedicated band of brave souls keeps the watchfires burning, hoping for the day when some of the state’s misguided firearms laws can be rolled back through a combination of Court decisions and changes in public opinion in the Golden State.
They’re hoping to liberate the state’s six million legal gun owners. Which represents a full 15 percent of the population — as opposed to the four percent of the state’s population who identify as being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. (Just saying.)
One thing California residents can be assured of: they have more rights in their home state than outsiders do.
Non-residents cannot apply for a California firearms license, no outside license is recognized, and unlicensed open carry is banned for all.
People trying to carry a firearm without a license are subject to being charged with a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of potentially one year in jail, up to a $1,000.00 fine.
Vehicle carry? No, not unless the heater is unloaded and stored in a locked container.
The Dishonorable Mentions
New York City’s abusive treatment of non-resident firearms owners passing through its transportation facilities deserves The People of the Gun’s ire as well. Since the Bloomberg-esque revenge fantasy appears to be limited to New York City and its environs — not being inflicted on travelers in upstate New York — it didn’t meet the criteria for this list.
The Commonwealth of Guam is a “shall issue” jurisdiction that has no reciprocity and issues no non-resident licenses. It is also excluded from the list because it’s not a state, but an unincorporated territory whose government derives its power not from its people, but rather from an Act of Congress.
Georgia and Nebraska escaped inclusion solely because they accept non-resident Utah permits.
Michigan technically recognizes all other state-issued licenses, which is good. But it leaves Vermonters at a disadvantage, as the Wolverine state does not allow non-residents to apply for a Michigan Concealed Pistol license. Permissive unlicensed open carry for all kept the author’s state of residence off the list.
DISCLAIMER: The above is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice on this subject, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. Firearms laws change regularly, and you must always research the law before traveling to a different state. What was legal in the past may not be in the present of the future.