“Top” Five States That Disrespect Non-Residents’ Gun Rights: A Traveler’s Guide

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

Former RI Governor, Presidential candidate and gun control supporter Lincoln Chaffee.

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.

(4) Oregon

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.

(2) Illinois

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.

(1) California

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.

comments

  1. avatar Ed says:

    massachusetts should be in this list for sure!

    1. avatar DDay says:

      You can’t even possess a single round of ammo in MA without a gun license. And you can’t possess a gun, an magazines, etc. without a gun license either. You cannot buy any ammo in MA without a gun license.

      You can apply for an out of state gun license in MA but you must do it in person just north of Boston and the license is only for 1 year costs $100 and you must take a state approved firearms course. You also probably won’t get a license to carry, you’ll get a restricted one that only allows you to hunt and target shoot. And the license takes many months to get, then you need to apply in person for the renewal.

      NJ should be on the list too.

      1. avatar Ed says:

        You can’t even buy a box of BBs or CO2 for BB guns without a firearms identification card (permission slip)!!!

    2. avatar Louis says:

      Yep. I live in southern NH and Massachusetts is badly missing from this list. It’s bad enough to need an entire article. Starting with a non resident “carry permit” that will probably be limited to mere possession.

    3. avatar RyanC says:

      No Ed, MA should not be top of the list..

      1) Out-of-state licenses are SHALL ISSUE and as long as you have a home-state permit, they are rubber-stamped by a board. In fact, out-of-state licenses are easier to get than some of the in-state licenses.

      2) There are no restrictions on places where you can carry, that you wouldn’t get in Pennsylvania or Tennessee.

      3) Magazines are still restricted; if you are carrying a compact single stack or double stack…for the most part the gun you choose should be fine.

  2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    That is the most awesome billboard that I have ever read.

    I am going to share that image/sentiment with a LOT of Progressives.

  3. avatar former water walker says:

    Really? Illinois 2nd?!? Worse than NYC? Or Maryland? Or Massachusetts? Or Connecticut? Somehow Chicago is a top vacation destination. And Illinois has shall issue CC. All surrounding states accept Illinois liscenses too.

    1. avatar Ed says:

      Yeah, more effort really needs to be put into these “lists”.

    2. avatar Norincojay says:

      NYC isn’t a state and NYC did get an un-honorable mention even though it’s not a state.

      1. avatar former water walker says:

        Golly gee the author went on about Chicago as if Illinois WAS Chicago. And NYC controls NY State. Whatever it’s intellectually lazy to dump on Illinois without keeping up how it’s gotten BETTER. Indiana caters to Illinois in a whole bunch of instances.

    3. avatar Anon in CT says:

      CT makes it reasonably easy to get a non-resident handgun permit, and then you can do anything a resident can do (which isn’t much any more, but at least we’re not discriminating against non-residents).

      NY, on the other hand, doesn’t issue non-resident permits and doesn’t recognize ours.

      So NYers who live near the border can get the CT non-resident permit and come and go as they please. But we daren’t cross the border while carrying.

    4. avatar Ralph Mouth says:

      Amen! Where did they find this Paulsen guy? Talk about Fake News and an absolutely poor understanding of gun rights and regs around the country. Do you guys need content so bad that you allow anyone to write for you? You guys put out some fantastic stories but this one took you to from a gun news blog to the un-moderated message board level.

      1. avatar Johannes Paulsen says:

        Where? Way down in Louisiana, close to New Orleans.

        To repeat : “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.”

      2. avatar Ing says:

        You chose your handle well, Ralph. You’re all mouth.

  4. avatar Mr. Woodcock says:

    We should frame one of these and send it to 2Asux. Seems like an appropriate monument to him.

  5. avatar Rick says:

    Nothing about NJ???

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      Sorry. MY list was off the top of my head?

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I can only assume that NJ seceded and no one bothered to report it because nobody really cared. I’ll google it right now to see if anything pops up.

      1. avatar Anon in CT says:

        No – NJ treats residents and non-residents alike like sh1t. This list is about states that are a-holes to non-residents, compared to how they treat residents.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Ah… Frankly, I was hoping they seceded. Maybe find out they took CA with them.

    3. avatar Bob says:

      Ah, yea.

      Jersey should be number F!ing one!

      I would rather deal with California’s very restrictive gun rights than Jerseys lack of any.

      But its not all bad, as long as you’re a retired cop in Jersey you get a free pass for life!
      Hows that for preferential treatment?

  6. 70k in CA have a CCW. My little 835 sq mi PA county has 40,000 active LTCF issued.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      People who say Pa residents are gun restricted, obviously have never been to PA 🙂

  7. avatar rt66paul says:

    Just as there are many registered Democrats that own firearms and even are NRA members, there are homosexuals and others that identify with them that own, use, and support the NRA and like organizations.
    It is like the old joke about the old hunter that came out of the closet and his friend asked him about the time they shared a sleeping bag in -20 weather. He asked him what he was thinking. He replyed that he was thinking that he was glad for his friend being there, because without shared body warmth, he would have died. There are times when you don’t think about sex.

  8. avatar Somebody says:

    NJ should be tied for 1st with CA. At least MA and CT actually issue an appreciable volume of permits. NJ, despite having a population of over 7million, only has about 1,000 non-LEO concealed carriers. They reciprocate with NOBODY. God help you if you use a hollowpoint…

    1. avatar Dilbert says:

      WEll, you know – the Mafia hates competition….

  9. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    madigan is a bigger crook than alphonse was.

  10. avatar Tom says:

    I’m pretty sure Hawaii needs to be there too. May issue in theory, no issue in practice, and no reciprocity period.

  11. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I knew my state would be there. ?
    But hey, at least I can hunt with a suppressor.
    And shoot my squirt guns.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Yeah, for some reason the writers here seem to really hate Oregon. Maybe they have exes here? There’s no way an honest and properly thought out list would put Oregon even close to the bottom 5 in terms of respecting gun rights.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        If it’s a list that compares the state’s treatment of residents to its treatment of outsiders, then yes, Oregon belongs in that particular hall of shame.

        Sure, if you live there, it’s fine. If you’re traveling in from another state, you’re SOL. I looked into the process for getting a nonresident permit, and finally gave up on the idea of ever legally carrying when I visit family in OR.

        1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

          I’m not saying Oregon shouldn’t be criticized for disrespecting non-resident civil rights. But in the top 5 worst above New York, New Jersey, etc? Please, that’s just not reasonable.

          As an aside, I do wish we’d recognize non-resident permits* but IIRC there’s a procedural snag keeping it from advancing.

          * ideally we’d recognize the US’ and our own constitution, but you know what I’m saying.

        2. avatar Ing says:

          You do have a point. At least I can take a firearm to Oregon and have it with me while I’m on family property, which I couldn’t do in California (where my modern rifle and carry pistol are outright illegal) or the other states you mentioned. They objectively and completely suck; all things considered, there’s no comparison.

  12. avatar skiff says:

    In Rhode Island, if you have a Pistol Permit issued by the city or town, (there are 39 cities and towns) you can buy a firearm at a gun store and the seven day (not five day) waiting period is waived. In RI, they are called Pistol Permits. If you have a PP issued by the Attorney General, you must wait seven days for the state background check. Convoluted, yes! Go figure. Every year, a Republican state representative introduces a bill to streamline the pistol permit process to no avail.

  13. avatar Larry says:

    Well NYC and NYS are two different worlds that’s for sure, but no part of the state honors any other state permit or license , and NYC won’t even recognize permits for its own state . Neither upstate or out of state folks can have even a long gun with them in NYC , how NYS isn’t on the list is mind boggling .

  14. avatar skiff says:

    Fortunately, RI Governor Lincoln Chaffee, aka “the missing Link” is now a private citizen. Unfortunately, there isn’t a gun control bill that present Govenor Gina Raimondo wouldn’t sign.

  15. avatar Hannibal says:

    Nonsense. Putting ‘shall issue’ states before MD, NY, NJ, HI?

    Just absurd.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      It’s about differential treatment. Those states certainly suck in 2A terms, but they treat everybody like crap, not just nonresidents.

  16. avatar Mike Betts says:

    I was going to carp about Maryland not getting even a dishonorable mention until somebody reminded me that these were states which treat outsiders badly as compared to residents. Indeed, Maryland is non-discriminatory (as every nanny-state should be) in that they treat POTG dismally regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, where you’re from, or any other parameter you’d care to mention.

  17. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    Oregon USED to offer border-state residents the chance for a permit. It is still technically on the books but it is at the discretion of the local sheriff. There were a few permit-friendly 2A supporters there but recently, I’m not aware of a single sheriff that is processing out of state applications. The political climate in Oregon has changed markedly toward the anti-2A side and the elected sheriffs are caught in the political crossfire.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      The Multnomah County department is issuing and afaik always has issued out of state permits, at least to Washingtonians.

  18. avatar Bob says:

    The whole cluster **** system needs cleaned up.

    Imagine if your drivers license was treated the same way your carry license is? (I agree you shouldn’t need a license)

    Even so, we’re even comparing a RIGHT to a PRIVILEGE!

  19. avatar Luis Rodriguez says:

    What about the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a US possession that is marketed as a great vacation destination since no passport is required and all island residents are US citizens. It also has no reciprocity and has very restrictive gun laws that makes almost impossible to get a gun license due to cost (almost $400). Also in order to carry concealed you have to go to court and show reasonable need to get approved which increases the cost by almost $1,000.

  20. avatar Ing says:

    It’s amazing how many people failed to grasp the premise of this article (or just chose not to).

    Having recently traveled to California and being a frequent visitor to Oregon, I think it’s past time we started calling out some of these places — especially those, like Oregon, that are good on the 2A for residents but assume all travelers and visitors are criminal scum who deserve no rights.

  21. avatar skiff says:

    Present RI Governor Gina Raimondo (will sign any gun control bill that comes before her) is currently using RI as a stepping stone to become POTUS. She is presently raising lots of money from out of state.

  22. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I’m glad I didn’t return to California when I retired from the military. It will take time but there is a steady and strong progression to disarm the citizenry in California and Oregon. They have banned the right to bear arms in California. Now they are working on banning guns in your home unless you follow the California government rules.

  23. avatar Andrew Nappi says:

    States are under no obligation to alter their internal rules for anyone. The 2A is a prohibition on the federal government despite the 20th century and gun rights enthusiast supported left wing hoax known as the Incorporation Doctrine of the Bill of Rights. The US also has no authority to impose a national reciprocity act on the states. This would be repulsive to the framers and ratifiers. Personally, I don’t travel to states that won’t allow me to carry. That sucks, but that is federalism as it’s intended.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I disagree. That’s not federalism as intended.

      For one thing, if the Bill of Rights does indeed protect pre-existing, unalienable rights which government is not allowed to take away, it has to apply to both federal and state governments. Otherwise, it’s a dead letter.

      For another thing, there’s Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution: “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.”

      A national reciprocity law would be constitutional in the same vein as marriages and driver’s licenses, and it’s Congress’s job to help such things happen.

  24. avatar Russ H says:

    I think about maybe 20% of the people commenting actually understood what this article was about.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      I disagree.

      I believe 95% know what its about, but it fuels a fire that’s been burning for decades and that is the need for fairness to all no matter which state you are from, resident or not.

      Yes the article was about the unfair treatment of out of staters compared to residents, but that’s just one part of a larger problem, if the big problem is fixed, that problem will go away (for the most part).

      I still strongly believe that if for example, Jersey was forced to recognize my PA permit, that I would be a target when in NJ.
      No doubt in my mind that I would be “randomly selected” by my PA plates and then the car gone over with a fine toothed comb looking for ANYTHING.

  25. avatar 5WarVeteran says:

    I am a South Carolinian and we are not proud of our state when it comes to the Second Amendment just a we are no proud of our RINO liberal politicians like Sandy Senn.
    I am also a founding member of SCCarry South Carolina Carry a Second Amendment 501c3 rights group. An all volunteer organization. We have nearing 1000 members and 3 lawyers who work pro bono advocating our rights in our state.

    We have a phone tree and facebook where we contact members letting them know which laws are coming up.So they can write call and contact our representatives regarding out rights.

    We also have get togethers and group shoots at local ranges. Please consider joining and becoming a paying member so we can continue to move forward in the process of regaining our Second Amendment rights.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/southcarolinacarry/

  26. avatar Matthew Groom says:

    All of the original 13 states are “….the birthplace of secession”; the 11 states of Dixie just get extra credit for seceeding from two empires instead of just the British one. Actually, Texas seceeded from 3 empires, and a part of Virginia seceeded from itself, so don’t give SC all the credit.

  27. avatar Warp says:

    Doesn’t Illinois have that vague definition of “transporting” of a handgun that basically means that someone can carry a bum bag with the unloaded firearm (handgun and mag separate) around with them wherever they go?

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