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STATE BY STATE
MAKING THE CASE FOR RECIPROCITY
LEGALLY ARMED CITIZEN | IT’S JUST THE LAW
| BALLISTIC BASICS RETURN FIRE CITY LIMITS
ILLUSTRATION BY: JASON BRAUN
Creating accidental felonies for the otherwise law-abiding does nothing to enforce order. However, individual state regulations on lawful carrying of concealed firearms create numerous opportunities for such lawful citizens to end up in legal trouble. While promising initiatives to establish national concealed carry reciprocity face an uphill battle, Second Amendment advocates are in an excellent position to advance reciprocity between individual states, which can build momentum for future initiatives. Let’s look at how to make a strong case for interstate reciprocity.
Law-abiding gun owners face an obstacle course of rules to purchase, possess, carry and use firearms. Owning a common item in one state might be a crime in the next state over.
This leads to a treacherous compliance path for concealed carry. Some states are exceptionally restrictive while others are exceptionally permissive, and many are somewhere in between. Even just finding the laws can be a challenge. One of the most useful tools in this area is brought to you by this very organization and can be found at
THE ACCIDENTAL CRIMINAL
Concealed carry reciprocity is a serious concern because Americans travel, and travel involves elevated risk of criminal encounters. As such, there are more reasons to carry while traveling — and that leads to a very real risk of accidentally becoming a criminal. All concealed carriers are responsible for compliance with the law wherever they are, but if a man or woman takes a wrong turn or misses an exit, it’s possible he or she will end up in a state he or she has no intention or desire to enter. Even intentional passage across a non-permissive state may require a traveler to stop, get out in a public place and handle a firearm in order to secure it, which poses its own risks.
This concern over inadvertent illegality is not an abstract phobia; many people have been arrested (particularly in New Jersey) for illegal concealed carry while holding valid outof-state permits. New Jersey police arrested Pennsylvania mother-of-two Shaneen Allen on an expressway, and after she lost her legal battle, Gov. Chris Christie ultimately pardoned her. In 2017, 59-year-old Donna Marie Gracey of Florida was arrested in Frenchtown, New Jersey, for carrying concealed and also for transporting hollow-point bullets. I myself have accidentally driven into New Jersey. It isn’t difficult to do.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
At first glance, this seems like a simple policy problem with a simple fix: If my Minnesota driver’s license is recognized in Virginia, and my Hawaii marriage license is recognized in North Carolina, shouldn’t my Texas License to Carry be recognized in California? The problem is that there is a longstanding precedent that individual states have the power to regulate concealed carry.
expressly acknowledged the constitutional legitimacy of prohibitions on concealed weapons. Even some gun-rights advocates are torn on this issue over the principles of federalism and state rights. But I would submit that there are ways we can achieve a national construct without violating state rights. A cluster of states with strong support for the Second Amendment could replicate the driver’s license compact: creating a data-sharing framework to ease reciprocity concerns and making it easier for more-hesitant states to sign on. Data sharing on us may rightly irk many gun-rights advocates, but it also disarms a critical (if unrealistic) argument from our opponents: A criminal in one state should not be able to lawfully carry in another state.
When we look at the political landscape, particularly in regards to gun-control policy, it can appear daunting to make any tangible impact on gun rights. Political parties spend a lot of time and money convincing us that one politician or another will either save or destroy the Second Amendment, but the reality is usually much more subtle. We may not have the momentum right now to achieve a national concealed carry construct, but what we can do is pressure individual state legislatures and state attorneys general to recognize concealed carry permits from more states. This is a line of effort where we are already making progress, and it can help us ultimately build national consensus.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
Every time a state loosens rules on lawful carry, our opponents cry “wolf” that there will be blood in the streets from all the gunfights. The alternate reality in which some of our opponents seem to reside sounds like a cheesy ‘80s action movie. We know that concealed carriers tend to be exceptionally upright and law-abiding when compared to other Americans. So when anti-gunners engage in hysterical predictions about this, capture their rhetoric and use it against them when experience proves them wrong.
As gun-rights advocates, we often find ourselves playing defense while reacting to headlines and gun-control blitzes. National concealed carry is an area ripe for us to turn the ratchet in our favor, but we have to pursue it delicately, starting at the bilateral, state-agreement level and working for a multi-state framework toward a national victory. And every step of the way, we must hold anti-gunners accountable for their ridiculous rhetoric about what these advances will mean for public safety.
Jim is a concerned citizen and gun rights advocate. His opinions are his alone and do not reflect the official position of his agency. References and links to other gun advocacy groups do not imply endorsement of those organizations. He can be reached at Jim@tacticaltangents.com.
PRIVATE GUN SALES
CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
LEGALLY ARMED CITIZEN | IT’S JUST THE LAW | BALLISTIC BASICS | RETURN FIRE CITY LIMITS
Private gun sales are legal in many jurisdictions, but as with everything else in the world of self-defense, you need to know your local laws.
IF YOU, AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN, WANT TO SELL OR GIFT YOUR GUN TO, OR RECEIVE A GUN FROM, A CITIZEN IN ANOTHER STATE, THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT IS THROUGH THE ASSISTANCE OF AN FFL.
hat may appear to be a simple exchange could get you into a lot of trouble.
For the majority of gun owners, a firearm is nothing more than a tool.
When we buy or sell a tool, we don’t give it much more thought beyond whether we are getting the price we want. Firearms sales involve a bit more, but the good news is there are fewer federal laws on private sales than on commercial sales. However, if you happen to violate the bit of federal law that does govern private sales, you could lose not only your Second Amendment rights but also your freedom and liberty. You can utilize the USCCA Reciprocity & Gun Laws Map at
to stay up to date on federal and local laws.
If you commonly sell or buy guns, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suggests you apply to become a Federal Firearms Licensee. This requires a background check, your promise to keep good records and a few other terms that are beyond the scope of this column. But under certain circumstances, becoming an FFL can be quite lucrative.
FFLs are able to receive firearms from manufacturers and wholesalers around the country. FFLs can transfer — as in deliver — firearms to private citizens in their home states or to other FFLs out of state utilizing Form 4473.
CROSSING STATE LINES
Depending on where you live, you may be legally allowed to transfer a firearm to another resident of your state without involving either state or federal government. Everything changes as soon as you’re going from a resident of one state to a resident of another. There is a lot of old information, new information and misinformation floating around with regard to transferring a firearm to someone who resides in a state other than yours. If you, as a private citizen, want to sell or gift your gun to, or receive a gun from, a citizen in another state, the best way to do that is through the assistance of an FFL. This is not only the safest way to legally transfer a firearm from one citizen to another but also the law.
Again, there are a lot of “Well, I know it used to be...” stories online and at local gun clubs, but if the transfer crosses state lines, you will have to bring FFLs and Form 4473s into the equation.
Speaking of which, a lot of people
think Form 4473 is firearms registration. It’s not. The 4473 is the mandated federal form for recording firearms transfers, and that 4473 doesn’t get sent to your local police, state police or even the ATF. Like your tax documents, Form 4473 is protected by the Privacy Act of 1974. There are very rare instances where anyone would ever see it. If a firearm were found at a crime scene, police would contact the manufacturer to identify to which distributor the serial number was transferred. Once the distributor identifies the retailer, law enforcement would contact that FFL to review who purchased the gun in question. The ATF requires that an FFL maintain 4473s for not less than 20 years.
IN-STATE PRIVATE TRANSFERS
Individual sellers living in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington or Illinois (as of 2022) will need to sell through a dealer. In most instances, the dealer may collect a fee, and the FFL holder can decline to facilitate the transfer. Why might an FFL decline a transfer? Seasoned FFLs develop a certain sixth sense, and there are some key tells that someone may be attempting what’s known as a “straw purchase” — when someone who is eligible to buy a firearm attempts to purchase a firearm for someone who is not eligible.
Even if you live in a state that doesn’t require the use of an FFL for the transfer of a firearm, it’s your duty to be just as diligent as an FFL. Whenever you sell a firearm to an individual, it’s your responsibility to ensure the buyer isn’t prohibited from possessing it. Prohibited persons include felons, habitual drug users, minors, the mentally ill, those under certain court orders, and those that have been arrested for domestic violence.
Even if you’re not legally obligated, you’re morally obligated to make sure that you’re not placing a lethal weapon in a prohibited person’s hands. Laws regarding firearms sales, possession and reciprocity change often, so keep that USCCA Laws App handy. Because to be a truly responsibly armed American, you must take the time to review and understand the laws in your state.
USE YOUR HEAD
Can you just jam any old pistol into any old pocket, as pictured here? Sure. But doing so is unsafe, and failure to employ the right equipment and techniques will drastically compromise both your performance and your ability to conceal the gun.
Pocket carry is among the most enduring types of concealed carry. Samuel Colt offered his popular pocket percussion pistols during the mid-19th century, followed by other manufacturers such as Iver Johnson and Smith & Wesson. In Arthur Conan Doyle’s
(1902), the Victorian-era detective Sherlock Holmes asks Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade if he is armed.
“As long as I have my trousers I have a hip-pocket, and as long as I have my hip-pocket I have something in it,”
Holmes replies, “Good! My friend [Dr.
John Watson] and I are also ready for emergencies.”
While these characters and story are works of fiction, the scene demonstrates the main role of pocket carry in the 19th and early 20th centuries: that of an emergency backup plan. Even though technology has certainly evolved over the last 100-plus years, pocket carry still serves the same purpose. While it may seem like nothing more than dropping a handgun into your pocket, choosing to adopt this type of carry requires a basic knowledge of — and ardent adherence to — the fundamentals.
As with every other decision in self-defense, you’re going to need to carefully weigh your options. The most efficient carry mode is a strong-side belt scabbard, but that requires a covering garment. The next best carry method is inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry. This requires only a light covering garment, since the majority of the handgun is concealed in the pants. Other carry modes that work well in certain circumstances are shoulder carry and cross-draw, but they also require substantial covering garments. Sometimes, pocket carry is the best way to go.
THE POCKET ITSELF
Your gun pocket should be free of keys, debris and any other material that might restrict your access to the firearm or cause a malfunction. I have seen one semi-automatic and one revolver tied up and rendered useless by material from a pocket. Worse yet, foreign items introduced to the gun pocket can induce a negligent discharge.
The style of your pocket determines how you will access your gun. Trouser pockets and exterior jacket pockets are usually side-loading. Jeans pockets, back pockets and interior jacket pockets are usually top-loading. Know your pockets — inside and out — because you will have to fit a holster not only to your gun but also to the pocket in which you intend to carry that gun.
The holster (which is anything but optional for pocket carry) keeps the gun separated from dust and lint in the pocket and stabilizes the pistol for a sharp, repeatable draw. Some of the best holsters conceal the shape of the handgun, but whatever type or style it is, make sure the holster is securely in place and properly positioned.
Most pocket holsters, such as the DeSantis Nemesis, are ambidextrous.
Wright Leather Works also offers an excellent unit, the Insider, for pocket carry.
You must remember that other holster types are stabilized by the gun belt, but the pocket holster is not stabilized except by compression.
Gun selection will also play a major role. My favorite backup handgun is the snub-nosed .38 Special, but I would only consider a hammerless revolver (with the hammer entirely hidden by the frame) for pocket carry. The five-shot .38 is ideal, and Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Charter Arms all offer quality “hammerless” .38s.
There are plenty of quality striker-fired pistols without a protruding hammer as well, but whatever you opt for, a firearm without an external hammer is the best choice to achieve snag-free access.
Pocket carry almost always incorporates a strong-side draw. When you begin, it is important to blade your hand into the pocket with your fingers extended.
This allows grasping the handgun and drawing smoothly. This may seem overtly and even comedically obvious, but you might be surprised how many carriers manage to get it wrong — especially those who’ve trained a bit in other modes of carry.
RIG UP RIGHT
A quality pocke t holster and magazine carrier will keep both gun
IfA quality pocket holster an you have practiced other types of
draws, then you have practiced grasping
the pistol’s grip frame as soon as you make contact. But with pocket carry, if you make a fist inside of your pocket by immediately acquiring a firing grip, you will likely not be able to successfully draw without getting both your hand and gun caught. Instead, blade your hand in, grasp the grip frame without making a fist and, as the gun is drawn, only then affirm the firing grip. The holster will then either remain behind out of adhesion or will hook on some part of the pocket as you complete your draw. Train on this, as if you do not practice effectively clearing your holster, you will end up drawing both the handgun and the holster.
Pocket carry is useful but often misunderstood. Since almost everyone has experience with retrieving items from their pockets, all too many concealed carriers believe that drawing a firearm from a pocket is just as easy and that they can skip training on this style of going about armed. This is anything but true, and it can lead to everything from fumbling the draw to negligent discharges to being unable to draw when the gun is needed.
You won’t benefit from pocket carry if you don’t have a basic understanding of it and are not accustomed to doing it. Practice drawing the handgun from your pocket extensively before you trust a specific handgun-and-holster combination. This mode of carry is an important part of the overall self-defense picture and demands as much practice as any other type of carry despite its apparent simplicity.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
York: McClure, Phillip & Co., 1903), 218.
SOURCES DeSantis Gunhide:
THE TURBIAUX LE PROTECTOR
In 1882, French inventor Jacques Edmond Turbiaux patented the unique “Turbiaux Le Protector.” The nickel-plated pistol was designed to hold either 10 .22 rounds or seven 8mm rounds. The palm pistol could easily be concealed in the user’s hand since it was not much larger than a pocket watch. To open it, the user had to rotate the top plate until it released, exposing the revolving cylinder ring. The pistol was fired by pressing the trigger against the palm. Peter H. Finnegan, of the Minneapolis Firearms Co., licensed the design in the U.S. the following year. In 1892, Finnegan established the Chicago Fire Arms Co. and continued to produce Turbiaux’s pistol. Instead of firing the traditional .22 or 8mm rounds, Finnegan’s pistol fired seven .32 cartridges. The company advertised it as being compact, light, strong, quick, safe, effective and reliable. Finnegan contracted Ames Sword Co. to produce 15,000 of these pistols to sell at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, but it failed to fill the order in time, leading to a lawsuit between the two. The pistol remained in production until 1910.
— Frank Jastrzembski, Contributing Editor