Saturday, December 20, 2008

Michigan Concealed Pistol License: Reciprocity Agreements

Reciprocity agreements are formal accords - between two states - in which each state agrees to recognize and honor Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPL) of the other state. For example, Michigan and Ohio have CPL reciprocity. Thus, Michigan CPL licensees can carry a concealed firearm in Ohio. Accordingly, an Ohio CPL licensee can carry a concealed handgun in Michigan.

Currently, the state of Michigan has CPL reciprocity with 35 other states:
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

The official record of states that have CPL reciprocity with Michigan is maintained by the Michigan Attorney General.

Traveling Tip 1: Do Some Research Before Leaving
Before heading out of state with your loaded pistol, you need to first do some basic research. Make a list of all states that you will be traveling through on your way to your final destination. Visit the Michigan AG's Page to see if any, all, or none of the states have CPL reciprocity with Michigan.

If there are any states on your list that do not have CPL reciprocity with Michigan, you have two options. The first option is to plan another route to your final destination that does not require you to travel through states that do not have CPL reciprocity with Michigan.

If this is not possible or practical, you can follow the federal law which allows you to transport your properly secured handgun. In short, when you arrive at the state line of the non-reciprocal state you will need to unload the pistol, separate it from ammunition, and place it in your trunk. If and when you reach the state line of a reciprocal state, you may then reload and carry your loaded firearm.

Once you have planned your travel route, you will then need to visit each state's web site to research the specifics on their CPL laws. CPL laws can vary significantly from what a CPL licensee has to do to be in compliance in his home state. Pay particular attention to all of the following:

  • Pistol Free Zones
  • Police Stops
  • Castle Doctrine
  • Duty To Retreat
  • Lethal Force

Armed travelers are expected to know the firearm laws in the states they will be visiting. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and won't garner vacationers any leniency if they afoul of the rules because they didn't do their homework.

Traveling Tip 2: CPLs Are Limited To Home Privileges
A CPL licensee can only exercise concealed carry privileges recognized in his home state. For example, in Michigan a pistol is the only self-defense apparatus that a citizen can carry concealed in Michigan. Thus, if a Michigan licensee travels to a more "liberal" reciprocal state, he will only be allowed to carry a concealed pistol in that state.

Two years ago I visited the great state of Kentucky to attend the 2007 Gun Rights Policy Convention. Kentucky's version of our Michigan CPL Permit is called a CCDW (Concealed Carry Deadly Weapon). Their CCDW allows its residents to carry concealed devices - including pistols - that are illegal for Michigan residents to tote at home: batons, throwing stars, TASERs, stun guns, brass knuckles, and etc.

Thus, while in Kentucky I legally carried a concealed pistol. However, I could not carry the other "tools" that local state residents could carry. In a likewise fashion, a traveler from Kentucky with a CCDW could only carry a pistol in the state of Michigan. The limitation in this case is that those other devices - while legal in Kentucky - are not allowed in Michigan.

Bottom Line
As a gun rights activist, I believe that a person's right to carry a firearm should not be infringed simply because he crossed the state line. However, the law is the law and should be obeyed until we have the laws changed. There is a process for changing laws. We need to band together and get the laws amended. Until then, do your research before traveling outside of the state and stay in compliance of all firearm laws.

Be safe!

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