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Clarifying the Impact of Virginia’s Change to Permit Reciprocity

mark herringLast week the Attorney General in Virginia made national headlines when he announced that on Feb 1st, 2016 Virginia will stop honoring permits from 25 states. He has been accused of using his authority to further a political agenda while hurting law abiding citizens… which is true. Because we (USA Firearm Training) have promoted the Virginia non-resident permit for some time we have had to field a large number of questions from our students and readers about the implication of these changes. The purpose of this article to to clarify those implications more completely.

Understanding Reciprocity

The first key to understanding the changes is in knowing that any given state can only decide what other permits from other states they are going to honor. States do not have the ability to decide what other states will honor their permit. So while Virginia has the authority to decide they will be only honoring permits from 5 states instead of 30 starting in February they cannot decide what other of the 49 states are going to honor the Virginia permit moving forward.

The next key is understanding the difference between reciprocity agreements and state laws. Texas and Virginia have a formal reciprocity agreement. This is a document signed by the authorities of both states committing to honor each other's permits. On the other hand, North Carolina chooses to honor permits from all states without exception. This doesn't require that they obtain a written agreement with any state. They just honor all permits regardless.

Understanding How This Applies

So, to put this into context let me share the example of Arizona. Currently Arizona and Virginia have formal reciprocity. They honor each other's permits. Effective Feb 1st Virginia will no longer honor the Arizona permit. This means that anyone who has an Arizona permit may no longer carry concealed in Virginia. HOWEVER, Arizona will continue to honor the VA permit, making what was previously a 2-way agreement now only a 1-way agreement. So anyone with a Virginia permit may continue to carry concealed in Arizona.

Now, not all of the 25 states whose permits Virginia will cease to honor will continue to honor the Virginia permit. There are some states who require a 2-way agreement. Specifically six states whom are being dropped by Virginia will return the favor and drop Virginia. Those include Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wyoming.

So, as of February 1st there will be 25 state permits out there that will no longer be honored in Virginia and there will be six states out there that will cease to honor the Virginia permit.

For Residents:

So, if you are a Virginia resident who has a Virginia concealed carry permit the number of states that will recognize your permit will be decreased by six effective February 1st. You may no longer carry in Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wyoming with your Virginia permit.

For Non-Residents:

For everyone who does NOT live in Virginia but does have a Virginia permit the numbers are slightly different. Some states do not recognize non-resident permits at all. The number of states that have honored the Virginia non-resident permit has always been a smaller list than those that honored the resident permit. Of the six states that are ceasing to honor the Virginia permit, three of them never did recognize the Virginia non-resident permit (Florida, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina). So effectively, if one looks at the states that currently honor the Virginia non-resident permit there are 28. Effective Feb 1st there will be only 25. The decrease is attributed to Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

How Does Virginia Justify the Change or Determine What States?

Obviously the decision by the state Attorney General is a political decision. In short, he decided to identify the states that have requirements at least as high as Virginia in order to obtain a permit. That includes the training requirements but also criteria relative to what would disqualify someone from applying. In total Virginia has 20 different criteria that could disqualify someone from getting their permit. They identified five other states that shared those requirements. These are the states whose permits will continue to be honored: West Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

So if my Permit is No Longer Honored in Virginia What Do I do?

Virginia does allow open carry under some circumstances and in some places. As a organization of firearm instructors you might imagine that we generally don't recommend open carry. Your other alternative is to obtain either the Virginia non-resident permit (details below) or the Utah non-resident permit which will continue to be honored by Virginia for the time being.

What About Obtaining A Virginia Permit?

Anyone in the USA regardless of where you live may apply for the Virginia non-resident permit. You must obtain documentation from a firearm training course (can be taken anywhere including online) and mail it in along with the required documentation in order to apply. You can review our detailed guide here. Click here to learn about our online video course that qualifies.

Understand That This Stuff Changes All The Time

As a last thought I would remind you that reciprocity is a moving target. States continually make decisions that change or effect what other state's permits they will honor. Visit our dynamic reciprocity permit map builder tool to check to see what states honor your permit(s). At the bottom of that page you can also subscribe to get emails anytime reciprocity changes.

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9 Responses to Clarifying the Impact of Virginia’s Change to Permit Reciprocity

  1. Mikial December 31, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    I had a conversation with the owner of our local range, who is also a firearms instructor, about this and he made some good points. Now, before anyone gets offended and tells me I’m part of the enemy, stop and think about this.

    Yes, it was a political decision because he’s buddies with the Liberal Governor who is himself a buddy of Bloomberg and a gun control nut. But, he does have legal justification for the decision. For example, Virginia has a law that anyone who has had a DUI conviction in the past 3 years cannot obtain a CHP. 15 of the states he cut do not have that requirement, so they technically didn’t qualify for recognition of their permits in Virginia.

    The solution to this kind of drama is national reciprocity. Each state has their own requirements for obtaining a driver’s license, but DLs are recognized nationwide. For that matter, foreign tourists can drive on their licenses in the USA. So if you want to fix this sort of thing, contact your members of Congress and tell them to deal with this situation.

  2. ArtBrownSr January 1, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

    The difference in Drivers license laws and ccw laws are that to drive a vehicle the signs are plain language, posted prominently,and the driver follows very precise patterns.
    In the course of CCW the carrier only knows his state laws UNLESS he has looked up the laws to the state he is visiting ( which I recommend) but often the look up depends on the sight they use as to whether it is kept up to date and when the next law is to take affect. which is NOT something that is a common practice for drivers.

  3. Richard Harden January 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    Why do I as a military Vet need to go back and take a class for knowing how to handle a firearm. I had to qualify many years ago on both handguns and rifles as part of basic training going thru OCS.

    • Jacob Paulsen January 8, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

      If you have documentation of any past firearm related training it would likely suffice to meet the VA training requirements.

    • Charles Giles February 2, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

      In South Carolina, veterans only have to take the classroom portion, which is about the carry laws of the state and firearm familiarization. The cost for the range time is subtracted from your cost. You must also show an active military ID or dd formy 214.

  4. Edmon muradyan January 8, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    Not at the moment.

  5. Kenneth Szorosy Jr January 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

    It’s a full time job. Thank you for the clarity.

  6. Richard Hendrix February 2, 2016 at 9:43 pm #

    Will Missouri still accept the non resident permit?

    • Jacob Paulsen February 3, 2016 at 8:01 am #

      Yes they will.

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