Concealed Carry

Top 5 States to Avoid with Firearms

Just because it is the holidays, does not mean we can let our guard down. In fact, traveling to areas you are not as familiar with, crowded shopping malls, or on significant holidays all raise the threat from the everyday criminal as well as the lone wolf attacker. As a result, sadly, we need to be more vigilant and ready to take responsibility for our own safety. However, crossing state lines could land you an invite for Christmas dinner in the pokey. Here’s a list of the top five states to avoid while carrying with firearms, along with a handful of (dis)honorable mentions.

Picture shows an open concrete road through a plain, a blue sky with whispy clouds and a sign that reads, "open road."
If you plan to be driving through many different states, know each state’s laws and regulations on traveling with a firearm.

The passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act through the U.S. House of Representatives is a step in the right direction, but not a law yet. The U.S. is a patchwork of confusing and cumbersome laws that change the rules of what you can carry, where you can carry, and whether you can possess the firearm, ammunition of magazine at without running afoul of the local laws.  Now, 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” allows travel through any state as long as the firearm is unloaded, in a locked case, and not easily accessible to the passengers. However, that is not to say that certain states that are less friendly to firearms have not created their own loopholes that would snare unsuspecting otherwise law abiding firearm owners. This led us to the top 5 states to avoid while traveling with a firearm this holiday season.

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
  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 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:
  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.

States to Be Cautious traveling Through or To

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

Where are your holiday travels going to take you? Will you be transporting a firearm? What precautions will you be taking? Share your answers in the comment section.

For firearms protection, check out U.S. Law Shield.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (38)

  1. I am reading this with a great sigh of relief that i survived. florida is very lax on traveling with a gun. You can carry a loaded pistol in your glovebox as long as you inform an officer immediatly you have it. which leads me what i survived. Being ignorant of other state laws i assumed all to allow transport.A couple of years ago i was going to give some of my firearms to my son who is in the army and stationed in mass.i took an assault rifle which had a bayonet on it and three thirty round mags, 1200 rounds of ammo. also had two tactical shotguns, a 22 rifle with four 20 round mags and two hand guns and about a 1000 rounds of ammo for these. they were boxed and wrapped as i had first planed on shipping them to him but decided to take them up ourselves. my wife and i first went north to buffalo to see the falls and went across n.y. to mass. outside of boston. reading this article made my knees weak just knowing what would have happened to us had we been stopped. i know ignorance is no excuse of the law so from now on everything will be thourghly researced for each state. thank you NY for not extending our vacation by thirty years or so.

  2. “Where are your holiday travels going to take you?” — Nowhere I can’t/won’t carry.

    “Will you be transporting a firearm?” — You betcha. Everywhere I go. [also, see above]

    “What precautions will you be taking?” — Situational awareness and.Cooper’s Rules

  3. Hey folks, take the time to read all the feedback. It’s not about who’s special or white or black or young or old! It’s about a federal government that has become unconstitutional. State’s right’s are guaranteed by the constitution. But when the commonwealth becomes so devided by secondary issues. The door of oppression by a centralized government swings wide open. When the commonwealth looks to government for free food, free phone’s and preferential treatment based on ethnicity or gender. The powerful will give you there table scraps in exchange for your freedom every time. Evil exists folks. Personally my faith is in Jesus so I don’t need a presumptuous government. Oh now I did it didn’t I. I just had to bring up the Lord. Well yes we are a Christian nation.

  4. I would put Rhode Island and Maryland in the Top category, IMO. If you are flying with a gun in your checked baggage, don’t go thru these states either. If for some reason you get delayed, change planes or flight is cancelled and your luggage is given back to you, when you check back in to continue your journey they will arrest you when you declare the gun again. It’s happened at LaGuardia that I know of. You also don’t want to have an emergency landing or your plane diverted to an airport in one of these states for the same reason, but that you can’t control other than using a different hub if possible.

    1. Personally, IF I was forced, through no fault of my own, to land at one of the mentioned locations, and assuming I wasn’t arrested the second I picked up my baggage, the FIRST thing I’d do would be to high-tail it as conspicuously as possible to the nearest car rental kiosk, rent WHATEVER car they had available, and GTFO whatever airport I was in RFN!!!!
      THEN I’d drive to the border of the NEAREST state who didn’t have similar DRACONIAN laws and, above all else, KEEP MY DAMNED MOUTH SHUT!
      Once out of said state, I’d make are arrangements to continue my journey whether by getting my flight(s) re-booked or drive the rental car wherever.
      If I COULD get a connecting flight to somewhere else, I’d make a call to the car rental agency and tell them I need to drop off the rental, preferably at one of their facilities.
      Hall’s Bell’s! I’d take a damned Greyhound bus or even an Uber.
      ANYTHING AT ALL, and take the point clear, I wouldn’t GAF what the method was or the cost!
      The important thing is to GTFO Dodge WITHOUT the Police making contact with you! And if they WERE to call me at a later date to make ANY inquiries as to my thereabouts and why I didn’t make my connecting flight (in other words, FISHING to get you to implicate yourself or make some kind of confession because you know DAMNED good and well they KNEW you were on that flight AND had checked a bag with a firearm) I’d just tell them I was feeling air sick and decided to drive a rental, catch an Uber, walk, hitchhike, run or bungee across state lines.
      ANYTHING but to admit you’d walked out of the airport with your firearm!
      I feel bad for their circumstances but, SERIOUSLY, WHAT “SMART”(?!?!?!) GUN OWNER would be STUPID enough to trust “the system” after hearing about all the HORROR stories like this?!?!
      Like I said, I feel bad for their predicament but I SERIOUSLY question their mental competence, frankly. And as far as that goes, I, for one, wouldn’t bother to donate to their legal defense fund as I just couldn’t feel bad for their STUPIDITY!
      Like I said, land in the belly of the beast, engage in SERE and GTFO Dodge WITHOUT getting back on ANY airplane. That is if I couldn’t convince some Private Pilot who had his or her own plane to fly me out of that state.
      So what if you lose the price of the airline ticket. Argue with THEM to get a rebate but moat IMPORTANTLY:
      G.T.F.O. of Dodge RFN!!

  5. In a perfect world, yes. However, you could easily find that you will be required to spend your own money. To establish that fact in a county where demonic democrats control the agenda. Which is to disarm the commonwealth. And liberal’s laugh at the blue line. If you retired, your expendable!

  6. A gun free state is as dangerous as any gun free zone! Any conservative American who sets foot in a blue state (which all of these are) deserves whatever they get. I boycott all blue states, they simply do not deserve my presence and money.

  7. I am a retired Police Officer and possess a HR-218 CCW permit. My understanding is that I am legal to carry in all 50 States. Am I wrong?

    1. I don’t think you are wrong by the State but in the cities like NYC your permit carries no protection. You would also have to abide by all their laws like magazine capacity, and in NJ you can’t have hollow point ammo. Things like that are bound to trip up folks with the national law enforcement permit. The only way out of them is a Pardon from the governor after your conviction. Still best to read the laws of any city and state you intend to pass thru or stay in.

  8. Use extreme caution when air travel takes you lnto a airport in these anti possession states. A checked firearm in Texas, puts you at risk of mega trouble in certain states, if only for a flight connection. Followup prior to your trip. Stay safe!

  9. As a retired police officer I have a Retired Law Enforcement Officers Firearms permit, which was mandated by Congress after 9-11. Does this affect any of the laws of those states mentioned in this article?

    1. No, it only exempts us from having to have a carry permit from that state (or a permit with a reciprocal state). To be safe you will want to carry a single stack pistol . I like a SIG 290 for that reason. A 7 round mag capacity and two spare mags in a cell phone case and you don’t have to worry about any capacity restrictions. There are many others that fit the bill like the Ruger LCS or the Kimber micro 9 for example.You still have to know if the state has prohibited places like churches, restaurants that serve alcohol, public buildings, etc. and you have to observe those restrictions.

  10. I used to live in NJ and as far as gun rights/issues go this state is the worst and I’m speaking as a long time lover of firearms. Take my advice, avoid NJ at all costs.

    1. In 1986 I moved to Newark for my job, didn’t know a thing about gun laws in the state and I was head of security at an airport hotel (unarmed). Because I owned a couple guns I filed for their FOID card and got it, no problem. It’s required to buy ammo, shoot at a range and buy a gun. I’m sure things changed, probably after Sandy Hook, but I never knew they were so strict until I studied the gun laws before I started carrying 4 years ago, living in MO.

  11. There are no CAVEATS contained withing the twenty-seven words of OUR second amendment! Any law or statute restricting (infringing) the “peoples’ right to keep and BEAR (carry) arms is unlawful, illegal, and UN-CONSTITUTIONAL. ALL states must abide by the RULE OF LAW the fourteenth amendment does not allow individual states to circumvent our God given and Constitutional rights.

    Apathy has allowed this to occur as once the foot is in the door the rest will soon follow. Apathy gives tacit approval that what governments do is acceptable!!!

    1. Well said Marine. I lived in, and have family in: NJ, NYC and L.I., R.I , Mass. and Ct. (the Constitution State). When I visit any of my siblings or my children in any of those States, I never carry for fear of being stopped and charged with possession of a firearm. I am an Ohio CCW holder and fear losing my right to possess a firearm due to a possible conviction for possession in those other States.

    2. You are on the money…now if only the States would bring back the STATE MILITIA’s…’we the people’ could arrest the POLITICIANS would can not read and understand 27 words….as with the remainder of our Constitution….imho….Semper Fi

  12. Interesting that all states listed plus D.C. are all D-dominated, Liberal/Progressive/Marxist governments with high across the board taxes. Seems there’s a message there for non-believers: avoid these areas if at all possible.

  13. You have to especially cautious traveling through NJ. In many instances even if you comply with the lock container etc. the NJ law enforcement will still seize your firearm and although you will win in court you still have to go through the expense and time of getting it back. Recently an individual was arrested for possession of a handgun which was a pistol dating back to the 1700’s. Many years ago I lived in NY and went to the NJ state troopers to get a firearm ID card. After six months they kept stalling and saying they lost my application, lost my fingerprints, kept me waiting at the trooper barracks for two hours. Eventually I called the head of the state police and I had my ID card 48 hours later.

  14. My rules for travel are down to one simple rule: If you do not respect my gun(s) and my right to protect my family and myself, then I will never spend $1 of my money in your state for any reason. Each year my family and myself have a wonderful vacation from 1 to 2 weeks in length and never once has anyone whined or complained about not visiting the 10 states mentioned in this article.

  15. In New Jersey it is unlawful to have any handgun ammunition other than plain old ball ammo. NO hollow points or specialty ammo of any kind.

  16. What about the federal law (FOPA) The Firearm Owners Protection Act? It states you can travel though any state as long as you are going to a state that you can legally possess those firearms and they are locked and separated from ammo that is in another locked container.

  17. I’d be interesting in seeing how many of the potential issues with Illinois could be avoided simply by avoiding Chicago.

    (Other than the lack of concealed carry reciprocity, that is)

  18. Four out of five of the worst violators of the second amendment were part of the original thirteen states !
    What has this country come to?

    1. It goes deeper yet. Within some states are counties that are totally anti-2nd amendment. I can prove it. Just go into a sanctuary city and you’ll find out, what I know to be true. Start with a county where a college or university is located. Like every law on the books. Local prosecutor’s do interpret the 2nd amendment according to the influences of local power brokers. That is if they want to be re-elected. And should you find yourself in opposition to there political agenda. You will pay for your defense, while they expend tax payer dollars to press there political agenda. Innocence can be geographically manipulated. Comforting isn’t it!

    2. We have a law in Nevada prohibiting counties and municipalities from making any law or ordnance more strict on firearms than state law already allows. Really pissed off Vegas strip security when the ordnance prohibiting open carry on the strip was found to be in violation of state law. Choose your state according to your values. That’s why we have state sovereignty.

    3. When I retire (in 30 years) I’m moving to Nevada.
      First thing I do after I move into my house is get 10,000 rounds of .223/5.56 and shoot my AR till the barrel is as smooth as a musket and I’m ankle deep in brass.

    4. > What has this country come to?

      ALL of the states that approve of homosexual marriage are located to the west of the Rio Grande and left of the Chattahoochee. This includes FL where the latter river ends at the GA line and basically where IRMA died. These states pretty much happen to be the ones with the worse gun laws, excepting IL.

      If you are Christian, read Zech 13 and look up what the word PART means in Hebrew. Then the above thing with the rivers and why they reject Jesus’s own words make sense.

      Luke 22:36
      Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

      Peter carried a sword when with Jesus and knew how to use it, he deftly cut off the ear of someone in Matthew 26.

      In case someone argues that the gun is not today’s sword, read Lincoln’s 1863 speech about the slaves blood being repaid drop by drop with the sword for their 250 years of slavery (5x Jubilee periods). 7 died in office, 1 by poison, four by the sword aka handgun.

      Rejection of the Bible, Jesus who clearly said to arm yourselves, and common sense is what these states have come to.

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