Have A Concealed Carry Permit? Be Careful, Gun Regulations Change At the Border.

Leaving Wyoming with a firearm can put gun owners into dicey situations if they arent aware of states differing regulations. If you make a mistake, you could be in deep trouble.

Mark Heinz

March 02, 20235 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Those who almost never leave home without a gun might think twice about leaving the state with one, some Wyoming concealed carriers said. 

“If I go to Washington State, I leave my gun at home,” Bob Berry of Cody said. “What’s the point of going to jail?” 

Berry, along with Vince Vanata of Cody and former Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker of Lander, told Cowboy State Daily that gun regulations can get convoluted once one crosses a border out of Wyoming. 

“When you go from state to state, you really put yourself in precarious position (without full knowledge of other jurisdiction’s regulations),” said Vanata, a retired Marine and law enforcement officer. 

Hornecker agreed. 

“You’ve got to do your homework,” he said. “I’d have to do my homework. If I, as a retired sheriff, were to consider carrying concealed in another state, I would have to do my research. So, an ordinary citizen certainly should.” 

Colorado Quagmire 

Colorado has concealed carry permit reciprocity with Wyoming. Technically, that means the states each respect the other’s concealed carry permits. So, somebody from Colorado with a permit can also legally carry in Wyoming, and vice versa. 

However, “technically” is the key term there. 

Colorado has no preemptive state statute. That means that in addition to state gun regulations, counties and municipalities in Colorado can implement their own regulations. 

So, even if a gun owner has a valid concealed carry permit – which the State of Colorado recognizes – the county or municipal jurisdiction they’re in at any given time might not. 

That’s true in other states as well, Berry said, so carrying concealed outside of the Cowboy State can quickly get confusing. 

“It used to be, you just had to check the reciprocity from state line to state line,” he said. “Now you have to check legality between county lines and city limits.” 

Wyoming Loophole Closed 

Wyoming supposedly had state-level preemption, meaning, the state’s gun laws should supersede and county or city regulations. However, there was a loophole in it because of an inadvertent error in the wording of the state’s firearms freedom act, passed in 2010, Mark Jones, a lobbyist for Gun Owners of America, recently told Cowboy State Daily. 

However, Senate File 148 was drafted to plug that hole, he said. It passed the Wyoming Legislature, and Gov. Mark Gordon signed it into law on Monday. 

What’s Concealed, And What Isn’t? 

Even the definition of what a “concealed” firearm is can vary from state to state, Hornecker said. 

“I’ve had a lot of people approach me and ask if carrying a firearm in your vehicle is considered carrying concealed,” he said. “In Wyoming, it isn’t, but in some other states, it is.” 

Some clothing and accessory companies have commercialized concealed carry. Some purses are made with pockets or compartments specifically for carrying a handgun. 

However, women should be mindful about variances in regulations if they pan to pack heat on the go outside of Wyoming, Hornecker said. 

“If a woman is carrying a gun in her purse in Wyoming, that is considered concealed carry, but it’s permitted in this state,” he said. “But in other states, having a gun in your purse is restricted, or even completely prohibited.” 

Hunters Need To Watch It Too 

Those who travel across state lines to hunt might think it’s just as simple as tossing their gun and some ammo into the back seat or the trunk and going on their merry way. But it isn’t, Vanata said. 

Some states require that firearms and ammunition be stored in separate, locked cases, kept in separate areas of the vehicle, he said. 

He added that if somebody gets pulled over and nailed for unlawfully carrying a handgun on their person in another state, anything they have in their vehicle could be up for grabs too. 

“You could have one of those high-end hunting rifles in the back of your vehicle and lose it too,” he said. “Because they look at everything as dangerous. So, they take everything.” 

And hunters who travel by air need to be aware that it’s not just states, or nations that will have different firearm laws than Wyoming. Each airline tends to have its own firearms protocols, Vanata said. 

“Always check with the airline you’re planning to fly on, so you know what their specific rules are in regard to transporting your hunting rifles or shotguns,” he said. 

Circumventing The Constitution? 

Vanata said that with gun regulations in other states getting increasingly complex, it’s good to have resources available to keep gun owners from running afoul of the law. 

He recommended checking on the U.S. Concealed Carry Association’s website before venturing outside of Wyoming with a concealed piece. It has a detailed breakdown of regulations by location. 

Berry said he thinks that a patchwork of regulations is a hindrance and a burden that law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t have to deal with. 

“It’s a violation of my Second Amendment right to carry a firearm,” he said. “They do understand the Constitution, but they’re just circumventing it.” 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter