Colorado Concealed Carry Reciprocity
A Road Trip Through 6 States
My wife and I have been permitted Concealed Handgun Permit holders for over a decade. In that time we have traveled numerous times, both by air and on road trips; both for work and for fun.
In that time neither of us put much thought into carrying our pistols for self defense on those trips. We would keep a firearm locked up in the car or trailer when we went camping, but that was the extent of it. We didn’t carry our pistol on us when we explored new towns and states, and never even considered fighting the hassle of bringing it with us when going through TSA.
Needless to say, the times have changed, circumstances have changed, and our opinions have changed.
Our family is panning a road trip from Colorado to Alabama. We will be traveling through 6 different states outside of Colorado, where we are licensed to carry a concealed handgun. This is where the Colorado Concealed Handgun (CHP) Reciprocity comes in. And since our focus is on Colorado, all information is assumed to be from the perspective of a Colorado CHP holder.
What is Concealed Carry Reciprocity?
Simply put, concealed carry reciprocity refers to how states treat concealed carry licenses from other states. Each state is allowed to determine what criteria it will set to allow residents and nonresidents to carry concealed weapons in the state. For example, Colorado Revised Statutes 18-12-203 requires that an applicant to be “a legal resident of the state of Colorado” to be eligible for a Concealed Handgun Permit, among other things. Colorado does not recognize (or does not have reciprocity with) states that issue permits to nonresidents of that state. Other states have different requirements. From next to impossible, such as California, to permitless states, like Arizona, where if you can own a pistol then you can legally carry it concealed with no permit needed. Other states also treat concealed carry permits issued by other states differently.
Why Does Reciprocity Matter?
Now that we know what concealed carry reciprocity means, why does it matter? Back to the road trip that I am planning with my family. We will be traveling through 6 states outside of Colorado. I want to be able to keep my pistol with me, concealed, no matter where I go while on this trip. Will those 6 states let me do that? The answer to that depends on the states I will be traveling in, and the reciprocity laws they have set up with the state of Colorado and the permit that I have from my state.
Do Your Research
Do it! As I mentioned, every state is different. If I will be traveling through 6 different states, then I need to research the reciprocity laws and gun laws for each of those states to make sure that I am in compliance with their laws at all times.
Additional research will be needed for me to understand when I am legally allowed to use my pistol in self defense, if I have a duty to retreat or am able to stand my ground, or if there are any places where I am restricted from carrying, such as bars. All of this is outside the scope of this article, but is important enough to mention briefly here for awareness.
A great resource to start your research with is USCCA, and their CCW Reciprocity Map. As always though, it is entirely your responsibility to know the state requirements, so I recommend following up your research by finding the law on the official state websites.
The 6 States
Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. Those are the 6 states that my family will be traveling through. Now, Admittedly, this is a pretty easy list of states to check. A quick look at the Colorado Handgun Permit (CHP) Reciprocity page shows that Colorado has established reciprocity with all 6 of these states. This means that as long as I have my Colorado Concealed Handgun Permit with me, I can legally carry my pistol, concealed, on my person at all times.
To double check I can view the USCCA CCW Reciprocity Map specifically for Colorado. With the state of Colorado selected, it’s clear that all 6 of these states are yellow which indicates that yes, concealed carry is allowed in those states with my Colorado permit.
Know the laws for the states that you are traveling through! It is 100% your responsibility to understand and adhere to those laws.
In addition, if you will be doing anything more than just driving through a town, check the laws for that particular city. I am not aware off-hand of any citites that do not allow concealed carry if their larger state does, but cities can have their own laws about where you can carry. It is your responsibility to know and follow those laws as well.
Finally, my family will be considering reciprocity laws of various states as we make any future travel plans. I’m not going so far as to say we won’t travel to states that do not have reciprocity with Colorado, but being able to defend my family is very important to me, so obviously it will influence any traveling decisions that we make.
If you would like to learn more about getting your Concealed Handgun Permit in Colorado, please check out our NRA Certified CCW Course! If you would like to learn more about firearms but aren’t ready for a concealed carry focused course then our NRA Basic Pistol Course is a great place to start!
Until next time!