In my March 1st article “On the Road Again?” I discussed travel tips including the importance of being prepared for vehicular travel to (and through) states beyond your own. I recommended that all armed individuals do some basic preparation before travel.

The Devil Is in the Details

Over the years, I have heard first-hand tales of unfortunate experiences while traveling with firearms. Most of these incidents share a common bond: a lack of awareness of the subtle issues that can create problems.

Most states either require concealed carry or allow open carry (with concealment being an option). In others, you need a license or permit to carry concealed, but you can carry openly without one. Each state has its own nuances.

The same goes for carry in bars or restaurants where alcohol is served. Some allow carry with no restrictions. Others have downright bizarre rules. Here in Florida, I can carry while seated at a table in a restaurant, but I am breaking the law if I sit at the bar 10 feet away! (Note: Drinking while armed is always a bad idea.)

Reciprocity Tango

Reciprocity refers to one state accepting another state’s license/permit for carry. Step one is to check which states on your itinerary accept your home state’s permit. But what if one or more states do not?

To deal with non-reciprocity, many people apply for and receive a non-resident permit from a state that is accepted by the state they expect to visit. Utah is a popular choice because of the large number of states which honor non-resident Utah permits. Several states have recently restricted reciprocity to resident permits only, but as of this writing, 21 states will still honor a non-resident Utah permit.

For example, say you live in state “A” and want to carry in state “B” (which does not accept your state’s permit). You can get a non-resident permit from state “C,” which state “B” does honor. However, an increasing number of states have changed their laws and now only accept the permits issued to actual residents of that state.

A Shocking Surprise

This is exactly what happened to “Gary,” a student of mine who lives in state “A,” where he has a permit. He frequently traveled to state “B” to visit relatives, where his home-state permit was not accepted. State “B” accepted permits from state “C,” so Gary got a non-resident permit from “C.”

When he originally obtained his non-resident permit from state “C,” it was accepted by state “B.” He enjoyed several uneventful trips to state “B.” But unknown to Gary, state “B” eventually changed its laws to no longer accept non-resident permits.

Gary only found out during a traffic stop while on a recent vacation. When he dutifully produced his non-resident permit, the officer asked, “Sir, are you aware that this permit is no longer valid in this state?” Gary’s vacation took a very serious downturn at that point. Remember, laws change. It is our responsibility to stay informed.

Are You TOTALLY Up to Date?

You’d be surprised at the number of people who call me up to renew their permit or license, sheepishly admitting that it had already expired weeks — even months — before! Some of them only discovered their carry permit had expired when they showed it to a police officer!

The same goes for things like your vehicle’s license tags, your driver’s license and even your vehicle insurance card. Especially when we are traveling, being current with all of our documentation is simply common sense.

Safe travels!