2 Essential References for Concealed Carry

by Dean Rieck

It is said that ignorance of the law is not an excuse. And that is especially true for those who choose to carry a firearm for self defense.

However, gun laws change at a fairly rapid pace, so how can you stay current on the law?

You can join a state gun rights organization to get their emails and updates. You could learn how to search your state's online legislative resources. You could even take regular legal classes, which are often part of the training offered as part of getting a concealed carry license in many states.

However, I suggest two other easy ways to stay current. The first is a website, and the second is a book.

Handgunlaw.us is my preferred website when it comes to keeping up with changes to laws affecting concealed carry. It is well-maintained by the owners and offers a simple point-and-click map to navigate to the laws of any state, where most gun law changes happen.

Each state page is tailored to concealed carry, covering key topics such as whether you must inform law enforcement that you're carrying, reciprocity of your license with other states, applying for a license or permit, areas that are off-limits for carry, vehicle transportation of firearms, deadly force laws, and many other details.

The Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States is a highly popular book written by an attorney and updated regularly, with a new edition coming out at the beginning of each year. It summarizes the gun laws of each state on one page, which provides a quick reference on the laws you most need to know when crossing state lines.

This includes a handy checklist of key laws at the top of each page with more in-depth details at the bottom. There's are also advice for hunters traveling with long guns, restrictions on sporting rifles and fully automatic guns, tips for traveling in Canada and Mexico, and state rankings for firearm freedom which gives you a general idea about the state's attitude about the Second Amendment.

Even with the internet available on your cell phone and other mobile devices, a book can be a faster way to reference key laws when you're traveling. It's something I have in my vehicle whenever I plan a trip out of state.

One final tip: the mostly likely way for you to trip up on gun laws is when you're pulled over while driving. So make a special effort to know car carry laws and practice your interaction with police.

I keep my driver's license, concealed handgun license, registration, and proof of insurance together in my wallet so I can hand them all to an officer at once. And I've practiced the sequence of pulling over, putting on my emergency brake, turning on my dome lights, opening both driver and passenger windows (because you never know which side an officer might walk up to), turning on the emergency blinker, and turning off my engine, then putting my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.

You should aim for every law enforcement interaction to be a good one, for your sake and for the sake of the next person.

Dean Rieck is Marketing Director for Second Call Defense, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, former competitive shooter and business owner.