Reciprocity and Reciprocal Carry, Part 5 in a 9 Part Series

Reciprocity and Reciprocal Carry, Part 5 in a 9 Part Series:

Common Areas and/or Events in States Where a License May Not Be Valid For Carry

In Part 4, I touched upon a key point that every person who carries a handgun with a license to carry in his or her own state, or in a reciprocal state, must understand to avoid continual violations of penal law and risk of arrest and prosecution: A license to carry a handgun is not a blanket right to carry throughout (anywhere in) the state.

There are numerous places that always except licensees (such as federal buildings, as the federal government does not recognize state licenses for the most part) or may in any given state, both specific places (such as bars and taverns) or during certain events (like parades or political rallies). The only way to stay compliant is research, understand and internalize the laws of any state in which you will be carrying.

In a subsequent blog post, I summarize how attorneys do legal research to come up with potential answers to any question, such as where carry might be prohibited, even with a state-issued license. As with other legal topics, since our legal system was imported from England and is a central basis for all state law, patterns usually emerge that flag suspect areas.

This is true with places firearms may be restricted or prohibited even with a license. This does not mean that in any given state, it may not be prohibited, but in many, if not most, it will be a restriction or prohibition. Thus, understanding this checklist of places and events of sorts will help you short cut your research, make the most of it, and ultimately develop a high base knowledge so your reciprocal research becomes progressively easier and more thorough.

A. Common State Prohibitions.

For learning purposes, with states, it is useful to breakdown prohibitions by events versus places. The more distinctions you make, the easier it is to develop a systematic analysis and approach to every firearm question you face. Moreover, in most situations the prohibition is not just limited to handguns and licensees, but to all firearms, at all times (save for law enforcement needs and similar situations).


With carry exceptions (prohibitions) for events, it can be somewhat difficult to determine and follow because you have to be able to identify the event, along with when it begins and ends. Moreover, an event may occur at a place that would otherwise have no carry restriction at any other time. Some of the most common are the following:

  • Fairs.
  • Parades.
  • Political rallies.


Across the state, there is remarkable uniformity in places where firearms are prohibited, including carrying with a license (including reciprocal carry). On the other hand, this is tricky because licensees may be allowed to carry in these places when everyone else is prohibited. The common places are identified and listed:

  • Bars and taverns.
  • Casinos.
  • Courts and courthouses.
  • Cemeteries.
  • Financial institutions.
  • Hospitals.
  • Jails and prisons.
  • Parks.
  • State and local government buildings.

B. State/Federal Prohibitions.

In a handful of circumstances, usually driven by a tragic event, the states and federal government have both adopted restrictions with regard to firearms at certain places. The two most common are set forth:

  • Airport secure areas and commercial aircraft passenger’s cabin.
  • Schools and school zones.

C. Federal Prohibitions.

Federal prohibitions are neatly organized into and best thought of as 1 of 4 types. Generally, there is a prohibition for carrying a firearm into a federal building, and there is no general exception for state licensees, including a person carrying in reciprocal state. The remainder of federal law addresses specific federal properties.

Federal buildings and offices(i).

For the average citizen, the most visited federal buildings and offices he or she may visit to which this prohibition against firearms applies are enumerated as follows:

  • Social Security Administration.
  • IRS offices.
  • FBI/DEA/ATFE offices.
  • Postal offices.
  • Federal buildings with specific prohibitions.

Some secure areas in the federal system have specific statutory provisions that make it an enhanced crime and punishment to possess a firearm.

  • Court and courthouses(i).
  • Prisons(ii).
  • Military bases.
  • Federal property.

There is a broad federal statute covering all federal property that makes it a crime to carry a firearm upon such property. There is no exception for licensees, except as it relates to property administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

National Wild Life Refuge System, National Monuments, and the National Park System.

Effective February 22, 2010, in accordance with a law passed by Congress, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services looks to the state’s law where its properties are located to determine if carry with a license to carry is allowed. If the state allows such, it follows state law. Thus, if you are carrying in a reciprocal state which allows this, it is lawful, except within the federal building on these properties.

The foregoing presents a complex set of carve-outs for firearms on state and federal property. The key points to remember are that a state-issued license does not allow a licensee to carry a handgun any where in a state. Instead, it allows him or her to carry through the state, except in places where there is a specific prohibition.

For the rest of the citizenry (non-licensees), they may not carry outside the clearly delineated places set forth in the penal law. At a minimum, the Heller and McDonald decisions indicate a state cannot prohibit possession carrying within one’s home. So a state-issued license to carry is a powerful legal right, but it is not absolute in scope. This, however, would only apply to your home and not a home in another state that belongs to someone else.

This blog post is written for GST ( by Bryan L. Ciyou, attorney at law, who practices in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is intended for general educational purposes. In Part 6, I will turn to how you may effectively research another (reciprocal) state’s laws on carry.

Disclaimer/Warning: This Blog is not intended to provide legal advice nor a solicitation for legal representation. Specific questions relating to carrying a firearm should be directed to knowledgeable counsel in your state or the state of proposed carry.

(i) 18 U.S.C. § 930(a),(d).
(ii) 18 U.S.C. § 930(e)(1).
(iii) 18 U.S.C. § 1791.

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