Closing thoughts

Editor's Note, September 2010: Laws and rules change. While the author sought to ensure accuracy at the time this article was published, it is incumbent upon the reader to verify any potential changes since then.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article is no longer being updated by the author and will become increasingly out-dated.

Every license obtained provides additional freedom to move throughout the country, in the states to which you travel, able to defend yourself and your loved ones. Each license also lends validity and political weight to the pro-gun community's efforts in each state to lobby for improvements to their respective concealed carry legislation. Appendix B of this publication shows a map of the United States. Make photocopies of that map to scribble on and use, as you plan your own strategies for expanding the number of states in which you can legally carry your concealed handgun.

Obtaining these additional licenses, for me, demonstrates the need for national reciprocity. As I think about my concealed handgun licenses I know how I would feel if I had to apply for, and carry, a wallet full of non- resident drivers licenses. I have to consider what I would do if I had to drive through a state that either didn't honor my home-state's license, didn't offer a non-resident license, and didn't honor the non-resident licenses of other states. What would I do if I couldn't obtain such licenses by mail? What would it be like if the only training that passed muster in a given state was training offered only by an instructor certified by that state?

Researching this project has revealed to me the complexity of the concealed carry licensing situation throughout this country. I am not so naïve as to think that within my lifetime the states will all adopt "Vermont- style Carry", wherein no license or permit is needed, in order to carry concealed. Quite to the contrary, I expect that Vermont will at some point lose it's no-license-needed enjoyment of the right to self-defense. It is far more likely that one state (Vermont) will add restrictions, long before 49 others decide to give them up. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in DC vs. Heller allows that "some restriction" is permissible. For many years to come, opponents of lawful carry, everywhere, will test the limits of the word "some", with emphasis on the word "restriction".

One might also think that Vermont residents are out of luck, when traveling to other states. Vermont, though it requires no license for carry, likewise provides its citizens no license with which to seek reciprocity when traveling to other states. This very situation was addressed in Alaska, another state where no license is required, by offering licenses to Alaska residents – not so they could carry in Alaska, but so that they could carry outside that state.

Vermont residents aren't completely without options, however. The neighboring state of New Hampshire will issue non-resident licenses specifically to residents of Vermont, if the Vermont resident submits a letter from their local Police Chief stating that the Vermont resident has no record of disqualifying convictions. This letter is accepted by New Hampshire, in lieu of a photocopy of the resident license required of applicants from other states. As well, since Florida does not require an applicant to first possess a resident license before applying for the Florida non-resident license, the Vermont resident may obtain a Florida non resident license directly, and enjoy concealed carry in states that honor the Florida non-resident license. If New Hampshire removes the Vermont exception from their law, or Florida begins requiring a non-resident applicant to first possess a resident license from their home state, then Vermont residents will suddenly find themselves without options, and will likely petition their own legislators to provide for a Vermont license similar to the Alaska scheme.

I do not expect any federal legislator or special interest group to successfully push for either federally mandated unilateral acceptance of state issued licenses across the board, or a National Concealed Carry program of any type, without opponents doing everything they can to drown the program in bureaucracy, make it cost prohibitive, and so encumbered with restrictions and requirements as to be ineffectual and impossible to comply with.

Any proposed federal program would likely require application of the constitution's "Full Faith and Credit" clause (the clause that allows marriage and driver licenses to be honored across state lines), or that the 2nd Amendment first be "incorporated" over the states via the 14th amendment, in the same fashion as the 1st, 5th, 9th, and other amendments. The DC vs Heller case, along with lawsuits pending (at the time of this writing) against several other gun-phobic cities that prohibit gun ownership and carry, will at least open the door to incorporation, and subsequently, a federal program. Until this incorporation occurs, the argument exists that the 2nd Amendment to the federal constitution only limits the federal government's ability to infringe, without limiting the ability of the states to do so, each in their own way, and to varying degrees.

It is my hope that the states will continue moving forward, making careful, deliberate progress toward the goal of coverage across the board. Let objective "shall issue" replace discretionary, capricious and arbitrary "may issue". Let reciprocity agreements continue to expand the number of states in which a given license is honored. And where no reciprocity is available, let states adopt a system of offering low-cost non-resident licenses (ala New Hampshire) such that law abiding citizens, licensed in their home state, could obtain coverage throughout any of the 50 states and U.S. territorial possessions through which they need or choose to travel.

For now, there's just something about knowing I can legally carry my concealed handgun in 38 states (76% of the country.) And if relating my experience in obtaining these additional licenses helps others realize what's possible, and can motivate them to obtain one or more non-resident licenses for themselves, then I've done "A Good Thing™" helping fellow Ohio CHL-holders enjoy greater levels of freedom and personal safety, in their travels throughout the United States.

For more information on carrying concealed in other states, check out

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