FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More

Is There a National Carry Permit or Federal Authority to Carry a Handgun Throughout the United States?

A common question presented attorneys who handle firearms cases relates to a national license to carry a handgun.

There is No such license, except for qualified active duty or retired law enforcement officers. At almost every session of Congress, a national civilian carry license is introduced. However, such bills have never had a statistical chance of passing.

Furthermore, it is key to remember that if a national license did pass congress and become the law, it is certain that it would be riddled with exceptions. Logically, these would include local, state and federal property and buildings.

The exception for qualified and retired law enforcement officers came not long after the September 11 attacks. The perceptible difference between these bodies is law enforcement officers have some uniformity in training in constitutional law, deadly force, and qualification with a firearm.

In addition, a FFL may be able to transport and ship firearms throughout the United States, this does not equate to national license to carry. In other words, a FFL is not an end-run way to carry throughout the nation.

The present way to carry a handgun in another state is by reciprocity. This is an agreement, called a compact, between states. With this, one state recognizes another state’s license. However, it is critical to note that when in another state engaging in reciprocal carry, one must follow the reciprocal state’s laws, and, if there is no preemption, any local rules and regulations.

Federal laws apply in all states, as it relates to federal property, lands and areas/fields the Congress has chosen to regulate, which typically overlaps with concurrent state regulation. Two common examples are guns in school zones and at airports and on aircraft.

Hopefully, this blog post aids in your base knowledge relating to carrying a handgun in a reciprocal state. If so, this blog post has met its educational objectives. This blog post was written by attorney Bryan L. Ciyou, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana. This is not intended to provide legal advice, nor is it a solicitation for legal representation.

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36 comments

  1. What’s the criteria to be considered a “qualified active duty or retired law enforcement officer”, to gain a permit to carry. I’ve worked for the Michigan Dept. of Corrections for over 25 years and I’ve been a Transportation Officer for the last 13 of those years. I carry almost daily, I’ve had extra training and yearly qualifications to maintain my Dept. issued permit. Would this qualify me as one of the ‘exceptions’?

    Comment by Kevin Sorenson on September 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

  2. I’m a former LEO from NC… It is my understanding that as a correction officer, you are restricted to carrying a firearm only in the performance of you duties as such… However, most states are reasonable in granting concealed carry permits as a civilian would, do to your profession… I know that it does not seem fair, as you all come in contact with criminals every day as well… The way we would generally get around that for the jailers in our county were to swear them in as deputies… This would require additional training within 1 year to become a sworn officer, who also has arrest authority… I hope that helps answer your question… I don’t think it’s right, but that’s how I’ve found it to work in most states… Best of luck…

    Comment by BL Guthrie on November 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm

  3. I am curious how one would go about taking up a profession as a bodyguard and carry a weapon. If you were protecting someone, the chances of traveling across state lines are good. Personally I have been an officer for over 10 years and could get a commission card from an agency to be able to carry but it seems like that would be an issue if you were using your firearm under working conditions without a specific license. In addition to law enforcement I have also worked over seas as a bodyguard subcontracted through the state department and qualified through state department course and required weapon systems. How would that translate in the private sector or an it?

    Comment by Chris Fogleman on January 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm

  4. SO a retired police officer has more rights in the US to protect himself vs a citizen who never worked in law enforcement. As if police have never been know to loose their button and misuse their firearm. RIDICULOUS! Seems all to often retire LEOs are on the front page for illegal shootings or killing their entire family, including the fact they “have constitutional, firearm, and deadly force training.

    Notice a “civilian” who has taken the same training still doesn’t qualify to carry in all 50 … Welcome the the Police State of America. Yes police are much more capable to carry fire arms, their training apparently entitles them to shoot unarmed popcorn assailants. TOTAL retired police are no more or no less responsible as Law Abiding Citizens, training or not. as a matter of fact many can’t handle not having their asses kissed once their uniform and badge are gone. I know more then a few.

    Comment by Curious Citizen on January 26, 2014 at 1:41 am

  5. I would like to know if there is a federal carry concealed carry liscence that can be purchases and carried from state to state without a problem from the FBI-ATF- or other Federal Offices, and or state officals.

    Thanks Kraig J. Colburn. FFL

    Comment by Kraig Colburn on March 22, 2014 at 4:17 am

  6. As a retired Military person who has been in combat, I to have received training in the use of firearms. Am I to read, that as a retired LEO (who in all probability has never fired a shot) is more capable of receiving and carrying a conceal permit than myself? RIDICULOUS!!! I know that I have received more specialize training in my 20 years of MILITARY service, than any common LEO has. As one writer stated, “welcome to the police states of America” the same country that I served and fought for.

    P.S. Honorable discharged.

    Comment by George Wilkinson on March 22, 2014 at 12:54 pm

  7. please send more information on Federal carry concealed. Thanks

    Comment by Donald A. Williams Sr. on April 4, 2014 at 7:43 pm

  8. why is a law officer given a right to carry and a citizen is not? only government officials have constitutional rights?

    Comment by Dr. David M. Berman on April 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm

  9. Do I understand this properly? As a retired federal law enforcement agent I do not require a federal firearms carrying permit to travel within any state in the Union. All that is required is my federal ID and a recent firearms qualification from my local/ state law enforcement agency.

    Comment by Ronald Denton on April 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm

  10. Granted this is my opinion…POLICE & CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS should have the same carry rights…police lock them up…yet corrections keeps them contained. There is no “I” in TEAM.

    Comment by ROBOLAW on July 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

  11. I served with the Air Force Security Police from June of 1970 until August of 1990 (20 yrs) I then worked for 13 years as a County Corrections Officer (Tippecanoe County Indiana) what do I need to get a federal firearms carrying permit.

    Comment by William C Doremus III on August 2, 2014 at 5:46 pm

  12. Hmmm Well as both a Military and Law Enforcement Veteran I will say this. Yes the Military gives a lot of training however that training is geared toward combatants in hostile situation and Law Enforcement training is geared toward Shoot no Shoot situations involving very restrictive laws and regulations that govern Civil and Penal codes. On their face being trained with weapons would seem to cross over but in truth, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

    As it pertains to Corrections Personnel, some states do not define them as Peace Officers and therefore they are not granted the same rights. California is one of those states. I would say that if your are NOT able to carry a weapon off duty, then there is no recognition as a Peace Officer by your state no matter how many times you carry during the commission of your duties.

    One comment was there is no “I” in team, well unfortunately there are lots of TEAMS but until your individual State or Agency defines you as equal to LEO’s … there is nothing to compare… Sorry

    Comment by The Oracle on September 1, 2014 at 4:37 pm

  13. I am a retired police officer and also retired military. What must I do to obtain a federal concealed carry permit. I live in NC and since retirement my wife and I have been doing a bit of traveling and would feel much more secure if I am able to carry a weapon.

    Comment by Joseph Lemay on October 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

  14. 1. David As an (P.T,) look out for deonest Gun Dealers Retailers Busineses too! No#1To obay Federal Laws of B.A.T.F.E.A.Divsion of the U.S.A. Treausy Dept too! Agree! Reports on disonest Roge Retailers Store Fronts & Commercial Lots Busineses too! on Class-1 is (01 Regular Gun Dealers . And Pawn shops Junk Dealers & Regular Gun Shop is Class-2 is (02) Regular Convential Firearms & Semiautomatic Firearms too! And Class-3 is (09) Option Laweforcement Retailer Dealers too! 2. Import & Export Licences; F.F.L.s is (08)Regular Guns ! N.F.A. 09) Machine Guns of foreign Imports &exports too! Reason is !! Is not Gun Dealers Retailers Dealers Store Fronts Busineses!!! Licences too! Agree! Commercial Companies, Corp. I.N.C Not And Gun Dealers Retailers Busineses too! Gun Rules been change too! Application is Is off Limits too! Agree! 3. The Mfg Licences Busineses Are F.F.Ls Licences is (06) Ammo Mfg (07) is Regular Firearms Mfg only too! The Fullauto Weapons Mfg is N.F.A Rules do appy too! (010),020 too! Only too! The Class-2 Rating only to is Gun Rules been Change too! Off Limits to All Retailers Regular Gun Dealers Store Fronts & Commercial lots units too! Is Class-1 is (01) Pawn shops & Gun Shops too! is Class-2 is (02! too! And Combanation Busineses & Gun Dealers, is Class-1 is (*01)! & Pawn Shop & Gun Dealers Busineses is (Class-2 (02! By new Fun Laws been Change too! Reason is : The F.F.L.s Licences is Applications is off limits For (Import & Export Licences) are( F.F.L.s (08)& N.F.A. Rules Apply is (011) too! ) Class-2 Rules too!Agreed!!!! ) The Mfg Licences is off Limits too! is (06) Ammo mfg . Gun Mfg is (07) Regular Guns too! Class-2 too! Class-2 Is N.F.A Rules is Fullayto Weapons too! Is F.F.L.s is (010) & (020) too! Agreed!!!!!

    Comment by David P.Curcione on November 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm

  15. 1. There Should not be no Federtal Law Issued Conceal Carring Permit at all too! This Permit don”t exist at all on the Federal Level too! The Federalk Permit Licence Applications Don”t exist at all too! It should be banned by the Federal Geroverment of Justice Dept too! It Banned Forever too! Is no more too!

    Comment by David on November 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

  16. William, William, William,

    “however that training is geared toward combatants in hostile situation and Law Enforcement training is geared toward Shoot no Shoot situations involving very restrictive laws and regulations that govern Civil and Penal codes” As an Army solder, Combat Vet retiree I totally disagree with you. Why do all police cars have computers to reference law if they are so good at law? The civil and penal codes vary from state to state but you are to tell me that because a police officer went to POST (Peace or Police Officer Standards and Training depending on where and which state you are in) or an academy (which most are not difficult to any degree) you know all state laws? Then why is there a need for officers to have the referral access to definitions of law in the vehicle online?

    Your answer is a true cop out, pun intended. At 45 years of age, I can out run, perform, shoot and don’t shoot better then over 50% of the retired LEO’s out there. (Even the so called SRT/SWAT s well)

    I can dissemble weapons quicker, know their abilities and have already been placed in many situations with “combatants” or perps if I am a cop with civilians “non threats” in the same area. We did it day in and day out. In the Army we train in shoot/don’t shoot scenarios as well, range time every month, work on shooting techniques, and have honed our split second decision making process better than LEO’s.

    Do not sit back and think our training is less about when and when not to shoot and yours is more law school. It is not. If anything, our training, decision making and rationality is higher then the majority of LEO’s. Where do you think the Police Academy’s get their training devices and digital training from? It was developed for and to train soldiers.

    Most soldiers are ten times more proficient then most active LEO’s on weapons training, marksmanship and shoot/don’t shoot since the budget, ammunition and range time is very much ours and at our disposal. So please, do not for one minute try to persuade others here that the United States Military personnel do not train in shoot/don’t shoot and all we are trained at is direct combat. Last time I looked, we are world police officers as well.

    Most LEO’s I know on duty should not even have been given a gun. Let alone a permanent right to carry concealed that “ALL” Americans deserve. So your welcome for my service, those who have, still and will serve. Those who have been seriously injured and those who will never come home. SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED is still written on paper, and we defended that right as well.

    SFC (R) GT Hartwell

    Comment by GT Hartwell on November 21, 2014 at 6:57 pm

  17. Yes: I was in the 82nd Airborne and also was a Trainer for the U.S. Military. I served this Country for 39 yrs. 11 months and 12 days. After 9/11, I was one of the Soldiers that had the training so the military pulled me out of retirement so I can help train Soldiers to go down range and help save lives in other Countries. Please take a minute to read what SFC (R) GT Hartwell wrote and think for a minute about what this country those every time they need people like us to go and (FIGHT) for what they be-leave in all over the world and give us all kinds of weapon’s to do whatever it takes to get the job done. But then when we come back home to this ” the greatest Country in the World”. This Government takes or restricts our rights to bare arms. We have more training then ANY law enforcement officer in the USA. Congress has passed (HR-822) the reciprocity law back on Nov. 2011, but it has been held up in the Senate. I’m sure every Soldier that has a CCP would like this law passed all the way up to the President of the USA. I have served and will always protect the laws of this Country, So Help us God until we pass. God Bless the people of this GREAT NATION and GOD BLESS AMREICA!!! Again, Please pass this reciprocity law so the law abiding people and those whom have served this Country in the Military can carry a weapon to protect themselves, there families and the people when necessary. If anyone has the right to bare arms, It’s us. Thank you very much for allowing me this opportunity to express my view. 1SG Acevedo (R) U.S. Army (ABN) OC/T Observer Controller Trainer.

    Comment by Eulogio Acevedo Jr a/k/a 1SG Ace ( Retired from the Florida National Guard and also Retired from the Army reserves) on January 13, 2015 at 6:01 am

  18. In Tennessee as of 2-01-15 A retired police officer with a minimum of 10 years “certified” can get this federal permit ( I am in the process of getting this permit) Once a year you have to get a criminal history check, finger printed, and 8 hour firearms training and qualification. Sucks to be a civilian.

    Comment by Red Golden on February 13, 2015 at 7:34 pm

  19. I was a Federal officer in the US Coast Guard and completed Coast Guard Law Enforcement school. I also retired from Clark County Sheriffs Office as a Sgt. in the Custody branch. I completed regular Firearms training and qualifications,(which include shoot don’t shoot) with the Coast Guard and the Clark Co. Sheriffs office. I did need to serve warrants for arrest and take people into custody from the court rooms. I currently have a permit for the state of Washington & Oregon. My only job in the Coast Guard was Federal Law enforcement. Would this qualify as LEO?

    Comment by Bob Tidwell on February 21, 2015 at 1:34 am

  20. I did forget to mention, I am also retired from the coast Guard.

    Comment by Bob Tidwell on February 21, 2015 at 1:39 am

  21. This is all crap!!! 2nd amendment. As a citizen I have the right to bare arms!!! The government and state should just back off and quit charging out the a@@ for me to have my right!!!! The gun stores are required by law to run you through ncis before you can buy!! That should be the end of there interruption to my RIGHT TO BARE ARMS>

    Comment by Jamie Russell on February 24, 2015 at 7:13 pm

  22. It’s unconstitutional to require a license at all. I’ve never been a LEO, or military. My father, grandfather, cousins, great-grandfather and friends and their fathers have been or are LEO’s, and/or military. I’ve been through a lot of qualification runs thanks to them. I know I can punch paper as good or better than them, and I have the proper mindset in regards to self defense, home defense and constitutional duty. I travel through four states several times a year. Two of them don’t honor my permit. So it makes me a criminal if I wish to be protected. I don’t need a background to carry anywhere. It’s my constitutional right as a citizen. I comply, reluctantly. Hopefully my wife and baby, or other citizens, don’t ever need me and my gun when we travel outside our state. Seems we’ve lost the meaning of “shall not be infringed”.

    Comment by Dan on February 26, 2015 at 11:34 am

  23. To comment,

    The police treat civilians as combatants ( have you seen the the news in the last 40 years )

    as a retired vet as well I have to agree with 1SG Ace

    We defend the country
    We defend ALL citizens good and bad
    We swore an Oath to defend the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights
    We get paid a mediocre wage and still do it for God and Country
    We have more training than any “law” enforcement agency in the country

    The Government does not want people with our skill sets to still be armed

    They left our brothers behind in Vietnam
    They send us to die for oil
    They send us to die for big business

    After all the MIAs, KIAs is the world any better or worse

    Are they fearful?

    Comment by SGT steve 82nd All American on February 28, 2015 at 6:25 pm

  24. H.R. 218 is a special concealed carry permit for actively working cops and retired cops. There is a process to apply depending on each State’s protocol. You have to qualify each year on the handgun you plan to carry and when you have your H.R. 218 permit you can travel the 50 States and all US Territories with your legal handgun.
    This includes: Washington D.C., New York City and the dreaded anti-gun city of Chicago.
    The problem was when H.R. 218 first went into effect it failed to include Federal retired law enforcement such as FBI or ATF agents. So the bill was amended and they included military police both active duty and retired, but the wording was allegedly confusing to civilian law enforcement, so retired military police of any and all branches of the DoD and Coast Guard were denied the ability to have the H.R. 218 permit.
    H.R.218 has been amended again this year and now there is specific wording that addresses military police both active duty and retired.
    If you are retired military police, security forces, or master-at-arms you can qualify and carry a concealed handgun. Each State has (I believe-don’t quote me, (New Jersey may not)) set up an application procedure for former Federal law enforcement (this includes old military cops) members to acquire an H.R. 218 based concealed carry permit that has to be honored in every state.

    Comment by Robert Plested on March 3, 2015 at 8:39 pm

  25. As a former Marine in a weapons platoon and Recon, I don’t understand why I am prohibited from carrying in every state. I have been well trained and still remain proficient at the range. I have no criminal record and have passed numerous military background checks. I have paid the fees and passed my state required background check to obtain my permit. Why do some states refuse to accept permits from other state? I can understand the need for background checks and am not opposed to the idea that those wanting a permit should have one. How can it be ok for me to carry in at least 30 states and have other states say no? Do we have to pay each state? Is that it? I spend money in those states I visit. It is time for our lawmakers to exercise common sense and realize that people are going to carry regardless of a state line. Don’t care if retired cops can carry and not even going to go into the who is better trained debate. I know my capabilities and understand the responsibilities of carrying a firearm. As a veteran we defend the rights of all Americans and I believe I have the right to defend myself and family. Do the right thing lawmakers and make it happen.

    Comment by Sgt. D G Odle - USMC on May 11, 2015 at 9:16 pm

  26. 1. There is no such thing for a National Federal Permit Licence too! The Lawenforcement Police jobs is National Carring Permit while you are employed as an Federal Lawenforcement Officer jobs too! While you are working on the job too! Agreed! F.B.I. B.A.T.F.E.A. Divsion Of U.S Treasury of U.S.A too! Job. U.S Sereret Service Lawenforcement is Federal too! There is no such thing asa Federal Carring Permit Paper Plastic Card says Federal Concearl Casrring Weapons Permit Licence that covers all Fifty Stastes too! Do you agree!Or Disagree! too. Is not,Like the States Carring State Wide Conceal Carring Weapons Permit is State wide in 50 States too! Do You Agree? Or Disagree! too! Thankyou, David

    Comment by David P.Curcione N.R.A./I.L.A /L.E.A.A. Member too! on May 19, 2015 at 4:12 pm

  27. I believe all corrections officers should be able to carry in all 50 states

    Comment by Jesus Puentes on July 24, 2015 at 11:20 pm

  28. I will take the time and read (H.R. 218) as posted by brother at arms Robert. I understand that our Government Leaders work in a very slow pass, but I don’t understand why they can’t work this out. Take a minute and think about what we, the defenders of the people of this great nation are saying. If we are allowed to carry in all 50 States. Now you have very well trained Soldiers and X-soldiers that have served this country against all foreign and domestic enemies, that includes saving lives. We must all call our representatives in Washington and let them known about H.R.402 (Reciprocity) and H.R.218 (permit to carry in all 50 states). Please tell them to please pass these two laws ASAP!!! Thanks for all you do.

    Comment by Eulogio Acevedo Jr. a/k/a 1SG Ace on September 3, 2015 at 8:51 pm

  29. I understand that I am not able to carry on every state .. But seeing that I travel the country for a living I live in my vehicle. That is a part of my home .. Prior to heading into a state that does not recognize my license I ask them how to place the wepon in the vehicle such as jersey and California the wepon has to be in a lock box and the bullets in a different location.. Which makes it that I can not protect my self or my family .. I have a Honorable discharge with 20years three wars and can’t Cary in my own country.. How do I get a federal license .. I Escort for a living . nassa and Lockheed and I want to be able to carry.. Anyone have any idea please feel free the help stay safe everyone ..

    Comment by Russ morse on November 15, 2015 at 9:46 pm

  30. I am a retired NYC Correction Officer and want to know how I go about getting my Federal Concealed carry permit

    Comment by usmc1765 on December 24, 2015 at 3:59 am

  31. i was a pennsylvania constable for eight years , with experiance as auxiliary police officer for lebanon city and lebanon sheriffs dept . sworn in as a deputy sherrif .would i be able to apply for a federal concealed carry permit . thanks gerry,aka inkman98@yahoo.com

    Comment by gerard smetana on February 22, 2016 at 11:40 pm

  32. I am a retired corrections officer from Bucks county Corrections Pa for 23 yrs and also was on the shooting teame and cause we are not sworn the department will not issue retied ID cards so you cant get Hr218 Permit.can i get attorney who will fight for me.

    Comment by Anthony Linzalone on February 26, 2016 at 9:40 am

  33. As a traveling nurse, I think I should have the ability to protect myself in any state I go to for work. I’m sure other professionals who travel for work feel the same way. What can we do to get lawmakers on the same page? Why is this a right we have to constantly defend? All the mass shootings is an excuse. If more law abiding citizens were carrying, there likely wouldn’t have been as many casualties. Something has to change.

    Comment by Sandi on March 26, 2016 at 10:30 pm

  34. I agree all correctional officers no matter what state you live in we should have the opportunity to carry in. Its true the LEO bring them to jail and we have the rest of 365 days a year to watch over them, they get to know more about us what we do, they study us day in and day out. So you guys can not count us out we have to be included to carry a weapon in every single state that we drive through. Just because we choose to be a correctional officer we have families just like the rest of you and like to go home to them also. And we take the same training as a certified LEO. Thank you and don’t count us out we are brothers all the way.

    Comment by Frankie on March 27, 2016 at 10:02 pm

  35. 1. If you have a clean record of no violations of no criminal record too! The Any counties Sheriff’s Dept : should issued self Defense & personal Protection Permit is State Wide of the State of Residence too! agree! To carried conceal carried only an pistol or Revolver too! It depends what country you live in too! If you own an house too! Street Address is needed too! It will cost you about $ & 5.00 dollars for the 30.00 back round check of your Record too! For 3 months Waiting period too! They will call you to pick up your first permit too! You give your phone number too!

    Comment by David N.R.A. Hunter of Pa. & Member too! on June 24, 2016 at 4:33 pm

  36. You can also buy a cheap ATM machine If you are servicing it you have the right to defend it and yourself. It would be hard to prove if you were actually going to it or not This would be for very restrictive places like NY etc.

    Comment by Darryl on January 2, 2017 at 5:53 pm

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FIND GUN LAWS BY STATE

Table of Contents

About the author
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bryan L. Ciyou is a trial and appellate attorney at the Indianapolis law firm of Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. He earned his BA with distinction and graduated through the honors program, along with his JD,... Read More