Top 5 States to Avoid With Firearms This Holiday Season

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The holidays are a time for family and friends. We know many of you choose to travel and have concerns about where you’re lawfully allowed to carry your firearms. Let us help ease those concerns.

Every state and its laws are not created equal. The laws can be confusing and cumbersome to understand on what you can and cannot do with your firearm. If every state was like Vermont, law abiding gun owners could freely travel with their firearms with no worries. Unfortunately, many states have a history of being hostile to traveling gun owners.  The federal “Firearms Owner Protection Act” enacted in 1986, allows travel through any state as long as the firearm is:

  1. unloaded,
  2. in a locked case, and
  3. not easily accessible to the passengers.

But some states have a documented history of creating loopholes in the law. This led us to the top 5 states to avoid while traveling with a firearm this holiday season.

U.S. & Texas LawShield’s Top 5 States to Avoid with Firearms

  1. CONNECTICUT—Connecticut does not have any gun reciprocity agreements with other states. This means nonresidents are not allowed to carry handguns in Connecticut under a permit issued by another state.
  2. HAWAII—Every person arriving into the state who brings a firearm of any description, usable or not, shall register the firearm within three days of the arrival of the person or the firearm, whichever arrives later, with the chief of police of the county where the person will reside, where their business is, or the person’s place of sojourn. For more information, visit http://www.hawaiipolice.com/services/firearm-registration
  3. MASSACHUSETTS—Massachusetts imposes harsh penalties on the mere possession and transport of firearms without a license to carry. Prospective travelers are urged to contact the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau at (617)660-4780 or the State Police at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/massachusetts-firearms-laws for further information.
  4. NEW JERSEY—New Jersey some of the most restrictive firearms laws in the country. Your firearm must be unloaded, in a locked container and not accessible in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that anyone traveling within the state is deemed to be aware of these regulations and will be held strictly accountable for violations. Revell v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, 10-236
    If you’re traveling through New Jersey here is information from the New Jersey State Police regarding transporting firearms through the state: http://www.state.nj.us/njsp/about/fire_trans.html
  5. NEW YORK—Use extreme caution when traveling through New York with firearms.  New York state’s general approach is to make the possession of handguns and so-called “assault weapons” illegal. But the state provides exceptions that the accused may raise as “affirmative defenses” to prosecution in some cases.  NY Penal Code s. 265.20(12), (13) & (16).
    A number of localities, including Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Suffolk County, and Yonkers, impose their own requirements on the possession, registration, and transport of firearms. Possession of a handgun within New York City requires a New York City handgun license or a special permit from the city police commissioner. This license validates a state license within the city. Even New York state licenses are generally not valid within New York City unless a specific exemption applies. Such as when the New York City police commissioner has issued a special permit to the licensee. Or “the firearms covered by such license is being transported by the licensee in a locked container and the trip through the city of New York is continuous and uninterrupted.” Possession of a shotgun or rifle within New York City requires a permit, which is available to non-residents, and a certificate of registration.

Honorable Mention States

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Rhode Island

If you have any other questions or concerns remember to call your Member Services Hotline at 877-448-6839.

61 comments on “Top 5 States to Avoid With Firearms This Holiday Season

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  • David Braswell says:

    This is one reason I am glad I live in Texas and very seldom travel outside of my state. There is something wrong with a state when they want their citizens and their guest unable to defend and protect themselves. With the times being what they are there is more need for concealed carry then not. The police cannot always protect us and the politicians run and hide. Thank you Texas for being the great state you are.

  • Dean Chapman says:

    If I can’t avoid them entirely, I try to avoid even stopping for gas in such anti-gun states as Illinois. I’ll spend my money elsewhere!

  • Still need an answer
    To travel correctly, it was stated that weapon had to be unloaded, separate location in secure area (vehicle trunK), etc.
    What is the rule for SUV’s that do NOT have a “Trunk” as such – just the cargo space behind seats??

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi David. Thank you for reaching out to us. We are waiting on a response from our network of Independent Program Attorneys and will keep you updated as soon as we hear back from them. Thank you for your patience!

    • In New Jersey the hand gun must be in a locked case as far away from the owner as possible and the ammo also should be locked in a case as far away from the gun as possible. I was told in the case of having a pickup truck, behind the seat would be acceptable. With an SUV they should be as far away from you as possible. Also there should not be any loaded magazines.

  • I live in Colorado and it is a mixed bag. Open carry is allowed, but avoid doing so in the cities. Unless you are in Rifle, Colorado! The big cities are problematic. Denver prohibits the possession of “assault weapons” and hi-cap magazines. Boulder is probably worse. The “resort” locations should be researched before your trip. Try to fly in to the Colorado Springs airport and avoid DIA. I drive to the vacation areas within 1,000 miles.

  • Ralf Kreling says:

    As for topics for future articles, LEOSA HR 218 would be of interest to me as a retired LEO, who besides that still has a Florida Carry Conceal permit.
    I’ve heard some states ban certain weapons due to magazine capacity, I’d like to know which ones those are.
    Also, based on your data research, whether some states are more prone to hassle retired LEO’s.
    Chatter within some retired LEO websites indicate some states do just that. However, I’ve not been able to nail down specific instances.
    Thanks

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Ralf. Thank you for your feedback and for your question. We will make a note of the topic for future reference. Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys.

      “LEOSA concealed carry must conform with any state imposed magazine capacity. While I have no statistical data, I can tell you our Retired Officers, even those who retired from NYPD, overwhelmingly complain about being “hassled”.”

  • JAMES STEFFEE says:

    We live in Pa.,our daughter lives in Maryland,each Christmas Morning we travel to her house and have a Christmas Breakfast and Present opening,I leave my carry piece at home,but,for those several hours I feel absolutely NAKED in doing so.I really am hoping the Reciprocity Bill gets through the Senate,I do know there are riders on this Bill that are not that desireable,but,I feel the Second Ammendment NEEDS to be upheld.It has already been infringed upon too many times.

  • Hi Mike. I would rather a prospective perp have no idea I could be armed. Also I do not wish to cause discomfort among people who do not know me and may not be self-defense friendly. Not to mention the chance, however remote, that someone might see my weapon and attempt to take it.

    In general, I keep my carry status a private matter. Someone who who has never been in a potentially life threatening encounter may have difficulty identifying why, just because something happened to me one time, years ago, I would still feel the need for self defense.

  • I’m a retired police officer who resides in New Jersey.I have a permit to carry from Jersey and also have my retired police identification card from phila.I’m covered under Leosa.I certify with Jersey twice a year. I should have no problem carrying concealed in those states?

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Dan. Thank you for your question. We reached out to one of our Independent Program Attorneys in New Jersey. He shared that since LEOSA is a Federal preemption law that covers all states, that you should be fine. If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to reach out to us or call our Member Services team at (877)448-6839.

  • TIMOTHY PAINTER says:

    maybe if we all protest going too and threw those states and not spend a damn dime there (which helps their economy) maybe, just maybe they will get the drift. till then i will be spending my money in friendlier states. oops their loss.

  • I hope the Congress will pass the bill which allows CCW permit holders to carry gun with out any hesitation in all states

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Timothy. Thank you for your question. Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys.

      “LEOSA trumps state law in one respect. LEOSA provides a Defense to Officers carrying concealed if the officer can show a photo ID which reflects current employment as a Qualified Peace Officer or an Honorable Retirement with at least ten years of service AND is carrying documentation of firearms proficiency within preceding 12 months. However, the States can restrict LEOSA carrying in places such as prisons, courts, etc. Additionally, private property owners do not lose their right to restrict LEOSA carry.”

  • Nancy McPherson says:

    I have relatives in CT and NY. I don’t visit them; they can come to Florida if they want to see me. I am a petite elderly female and refuse to travel unarmed.

  • I would think that the reason that most people don’t open carry is because they don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they have a gun on them. One of the videos that US Law Shield linked to in the past, showed a short animation of a guy who just got his concealed carry permit, and was showing off his concealed carry gun, when a guy with a gun, stuck it in the back of the concealed carry guy and stole his gun.

  • Steven Bonneau says:

    I’m originally from MA. (FL Resident now) It’s such a shame that the New England states…once the cradle of liberty…have become practically socialist republics. I believe these states even make it extremely difficult to procure and use pepper spray, etc. You are not to defend yourself at all against the poor, misunderstood criminals. SMH That’s ok, pretty soon there won’t be anyone left to tax or otherwise no way for them to squeeze more blood from a lemon. Just ask CT and RI. Still a Pats fan though…Go Pats! And I’m a REAL fan…suffered through many losing seasons before the first Superbowl win.

  • David Chirinsky says:

    I’ve often wondered if these restrictions apply to Retired Police Officers that carry under HR 218. Does Federal law trump State and Local restrictions?

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi David. Thank you for your question. Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys.

      “LEOSA trumps state law in one respect. LEOSA provides a Defense to Officers carrying concealed if the officer can show a photo ID which reflects current employment as a Qualified Peace Officer or an Honorable Retirement with at least ten years of service AND is carrying documentation of firearms proficiency within preceding 12 months.”

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi David. Thank you for your question. Please see the below response from one of our Independent Program Attorneys below.

      “If you are in a motor vehicle that does not have a trunk or outside compartment, then it is imperative that the firearm be in unloaded and in a locked container that is “inaccessible” to the driver. The best place for this is in the extreme back area of the van or SUV, usually where the tire tools are located.”

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