Reasons To Keep Your CCW

So, you live in one of the great states which recognize Constitutional Carry. You are tickled pink that you can finally dump your concealed carry permit. But does that mean you should do so? No, and here are four (4) reasons why you should keep your permit.

Reason 1. Reciprocity. Many states recognize concealed carry permits from other states. Of those that do, not all of them (yet) are Constitutional Carry states. So while your state may be Constitutional Carry, a state you need to travel into may have a reciprocal arrangement with your home state, but may not be a Constitutional Carry state, so a concealed carry permit will be required.

Reason 2. NICS (Background Checks) is often bogged down. Gun owners are getting background checks performed at a record setting pace between concealed carry permit applications and gun purchases. So, often the system is slow to respond. In nearly 50% of the states, a concealed carry permit qualifies as an alternative to the NICS background check requirement. If your state’s carry permit laws qualifies as a NICS exemption, the process is streamlined and sped up dramatically. It can mean the difference of walking out of the gun store with your new purchase versus having to return later after NICS responds.

Reason 3. Reality. If you ever had to use your gun to defend yourself or a loved one, inevitably the prosecution will raise the issue of your qualifications, training and experience. Then it will come down to the jury. You need just one juror to have the perception that if you have a permit, you were probably following the law. That singular juror could make the difference between you showering at home and you showering with Bubba. Imagine a prosecutor during closing arguments saying “And the defendant did not even have a license to carry that handgun…”

Reason 4. Reality, part 2. Law enforcement. Imagine during a routine traffic stop, being able to start the interaction with “officer, I have a concealed carry permit and am carrying. How do you want to handle this?” rather than “I’m carrying a gun.” This is especially true if your concealed carry permit is tied to the car owner’s registration (like Pennsylvania is) and the officer already knows that you have a permit, if you are the driver. That officer will already know that you passed a background check and that you probably are law-abiding.

So, the decision is yours whether or not to keep your concealed carry permit if your state goes permit-less. Here in PA, the only benefit you get is the savings of $20, the cost of the permit every five years.

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Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice on this matter, retain a licensed, competent attorney in your relevant jurisdiction.

You have a concealed carry permit of your home state of Pennsylvania. You want to travel to another state AND conceal carry while doing so.

You want to go elk hunting in Idaho or visit the woke mouse in Florida. Can you conceal carry legally in order to do so? In order to safely concealed carry on your trip, you need to know which states honor Pennsylvania’s concealed carry permit. Below is a map identifying which states honor or reciprocate with Pennsylvania and which states do not. This particular map was chosen because it is very simple to understand…green means “go” and red means “stop”.

Not surprisingly, except for very pro-second Amendment South Carolina, those states which do not honor Pennsylvania’s concealed carry permit are those which are politically “blue” states such as Soviet New York, the People’s Republic of New Jersey and Commiefornia. When a state, such as New Jersey does not honor Pennsylvania’s concealed carry laws, it is because that state’s gun laws are stricter compared to Pennsylvania’s more gun-friendly laws. (Delaware would honor Pennsylvania’s concealed carry permits except that Delaware permit holders must attend a certification class. Pennsylvania does not require a permit class, therefore Delaware does not honor Pennsylvania’s permits.)

As you can see on this map, except for Ohio and a bit of West Virginia, Pennsylvania is surrounded by liberal gun-fearing states. If you want to drive from Pennsylvania to Florida, there are two routes of travel which provide the least hassle if you want to carry along your route. You can either go into Ohio, then south through West Virginia, or travel south on I-81. This route takes you through that tiny section of Maryland near where the eastern end of West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania all converge. This section of I-81 is only about 13 to 17 miles of travel within Maryland. You will have to stop prior to crossing the Mason-Dixon line and store your firearm and ammo in the trunk. Then after you cross into Virginia, you can retrieve you firearm from the trunk. Then further south, instead of continuing on I-95 through South Carolina, deviate further west and travel down I-85 through Chattanooga and Atlanta. Out of the way, yes, but you won’t have to store your firearm in the trunk. Bottom line, is that once you know the reciprocity agreements, you can plan your route accordingly.

My personal advice is to stay the f*ck out of Soviet New York and the People’s Republic of New Jersey with your gun! Period! Let’s say you decide to not heed this warning and carry into New Jersey. You lock your gun in the trunk, and since ammo must be in a separate compartment from the gun, place a box of hollow points under the passenger seat. Then, traffic suddenly stops and you rear-end the car in front of you, forcing the box of hollow points to slide out from under the passenger seat. You are not aware this happened because you are more concerned about contacting your auto insurance agent. A police officer then approaches you to check your condition, and notices that box of hollow points on the floor. Since hollow points are completely illegal in New Jersey outside the home, you will be spending 18 months in the gray bar hotel for EVERY round in the box.  If it is a 25-round box, you will be showering with your new best friend, Bubba, for the next 25 years. So, heed my advice and stay the f*ck out of New Jersey.

Another scenario. Let’s say you are flying direct from Miami to Philadelphia. You call the airline and get their rules on how to transport a firearm. You pack your firearm in accordance with guidelines of both your airline and TSA and everything is good. During the flight, a snowstorm socks in Philadelphia and the plane is rerouted to O’Hare in Chicago, requiring an overnight stay. At the luggage carousel in O’Hare, if you pick up that bag containing your firearm, you are committing a felony in Illinois. Leave the bag on the carousel. When the baggage claim agent wants to know why your bag is the only one still on the carousel, tell them there are firearms in there and you are not touching it. Let O’Hare’s TSA agents deal with it. The airline will deliver your bag to your final destination after the storm clears.

If you want to travel into states which do not honor Pennsylvania’s permit laws, my best advice is to get non-resident conceal carry permits from those states which have reciprocity agreements with the state that bans Pennsylvania’s permit holders. As mentioned above, in order for me to travel into Delaware, I need a non-resident concealed permit from a state which has an agreement with Delaware. Fortunately, a few of them do, and are available to Pennsylvanians. Among them are Utah, Arizona and Florida.

Utah is probably the best. I have a Utah non-resident permit. Now I can safely conceal carry from my home in Pennsylvania into, or through, Delaware. If you want to travel from Pennsylvania to New Mexico, you need an Arizona non-resident permit. But New Mexico is the only state an Arizona permit opens up for Pennsylvanians.

To get a Utah or Arizona non-resident permit, you need to attend a class. This can be accomplished very easily by taking a class offered by a company called Legal Heat. They have the nationwide contract with all Cabela’s stores. Every Cabela’s location has a meeting room where these classes are held. The classes are about 4 hours long. These states require passport photos and fingerprint cards, which the instructor takes care of for every attendee. You walk out of the class with your application filled out, your photos and your fingerprint cards. You do the rest at home. For example, Arizona requires payment to be via money order, cashier’s check or certified check. But before you can apply, you must have a carry permit in your home state.

One thing to keep in mind with regards to Utah. If you commit a crime in your home state, say DUI, Utah will know about it within 24 hours. Every night at midnight, Utah polls the NCIC, the national crime database. If you suddenly appear in that database because you got busted for being drunk…and stupid, you will be receiving a letter from the state of Utah telling you your permit has been suspended pending the outcome of your DUI case.

Below is the same information conveyed on the map, but in tabular form.

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