You can begin to understand concealed carry reciprocity by comparing it to a driver's license. When you obtain a driver's license from any state in this country you know it is valid or honored in every other state in the country. You perhaps have never thought about it but can you imagine driving into the neighboring state, getting pulled over, and being told by the officer that they don’t honor driver's licenses from your state? The federal government regulates it. This is also why you can’t have more than one driver's license at the same time.
Why Does Reciprocity Vary So Much?
Concealed carry permits are far different. Recently some federal court decisions have forced all states to allow citizens to carry a concealed firearm legally. Now, while all states must somehow allow citizens to carry concealed weapons, each state varies significantly in their system to issue permits. Because states have such unique processes and qualifications for citizens to obtain permits, states are less likely to feel that they can honor permits from other states.
As an example, in Nevada citizens must take a lengthy class that includes classroom instruction and range time. In Wyoming citizens need only pay a fee and pass a background check. You can see while Nevada would be distrusting of people who have a Wyoming concealed carry permit. In their view, Wyoming permit carriers don’t meet the Nevada state qualifications to have a permit.
Therefore, each state has a list of what other state permits they will honor. There are a decent number of states that don't discriminate but the majority of states are selective.
Resident VS Non-Resident Permits
Reciprocity is further complicated by the fact that you can obtain as many permits as you wish and a number of states will issue permits to out of state residents. So any given gun owner may have a resident permit from their own state and out of state non-resident permits from other states. Knowing that many gun owners “game” the system some states (like Colorado, Florida, or Michigan) only honor permits from certain states and even then only when the permit is in the hand of a resident from the state where the permit was issued.
How can you check on what states honor your permit (or combination or permits)? We have an amazing tool on our site we call the Dynamic Concealed Carry Map Generator. Input all your permits and it will give you your current map. Also, at the bottom of that page you can subscribe to get email updates when reciprocity changes.
What questions do you have about reciprocity?