Family vacation – a lesson in other state gun laws

By Jim Irvine

I just finished a family vacation traveling through and spending time in several states including West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is interesting what is legal or illegal as you travel across state lines.

I have concealed carry licenses from Ohio and Florida which allowed me to carry in each mentioned state, except Maryland. It is important to follow the laws of the state you are in, not where your license was issued. For researching state laws I used “The Traveler’s guide to firearms laws in 50 states” and as well as information from states Attorney General or State Police web sites.

Traveling through West Virginia is simple since signing a reciprocity agreement with them last year. There are no serious restrictions in cars, and very few victim zones where one can't carry their gun.

North Carolina restricts carry in several places Ohio does not, including all school property (including parking lots owned by a college) events where admission is charged and public events including parades and funeral processions. I was in North Carolina for the anniversary of September 11 and the events of that day are quite personal to me. But the restriction kept me from attending any memorial service. Carry in churches and religious sanctuary is permitted.

South Carolina prohibits carry in a church, but like Ohio makes an exception if authorized by the church. I found a Catholic church that is friendly to CCW inquiries, unlike my experiences in Cuyahoga County. Other restrictions are similar to Ohio.

Virginia’s most interesting difference is in restaurants that serve alcohol. Concealed carry (including the premises, not just the building) is prohibited, but open carry is legal. We enjoyed dinner and a beer while open carrying. No one seemed to notice or care. Other prohibited places are similar (though fewer) than Ohio, with the main difference that infractions are minor, often low level misdemeanors.

Delaware is a “may issue” state that has surprisingly few restrictions. Federal buildings and state approved slot machine casinos were the only restrictions I found, though only traveling through Delaware and didn't research them extensively.

Pennsylvania is very CCW friendly. While there is no agreement between Pennsylvania and Ohio, many states (including PA) issue license to non-residents. I carried on my Florida license. The only prohibitions I found were, “court houses” and “Elementary and Secondary educations schools.” That’s it! It was interesting looking around a busy restaurant and wondering how many other people were armed. As a father, it was comforting to know that no killer could easily target this establishment, as they would also have to wonder how many (and which ones) were armed.

Maryland was the only state I traveled though that I could not carry concealed. I unloaded my weapon and carried under federal law.

Section 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver's compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

For such trips, I plan to not stop in the state for any reason. Food, water, fuel, gas and bathroom brakes are all planned to happen in a friendly state. I take pride in knowing that I used their infrastructure and polluted their air, but did not spend one cent in their state.

While each state has some things that are better than Ohio’s law, several also have provisions that are more onerous that our law. Of the six other states that I CCW’d in, only two (North and South Carolina) required notification of law enforcement officers during official stops or prohibited the carry of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. None of the states impose the restrictions on carry in a motor vehicle that Ohio does of it’s CHL’s.

While Ohio certainly does not have the best CCW laws in the country, we no longer have the worst. With your support we will continue to improve Ohio’s firearms laws.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

Related Story:
Non-Resident Licenses (When the Ohio Concealed Handgun License Isn't Enough)

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