Many years ago, when I owned a business, I decided I needed protection and obtained a license-to-carry in Massachusetts. In that state the issuing authority is the local police chief, and you need to give a valid reason of need. The chief can accept that and issue the license or he can deny it for any reason. I then purchased a .32 calibre H & R revolver, which I carried in a shoulder holster for a few months. The problem was that such a firearm is bulky and heavy, and even if you wear a jacket, it is noticeable and clumsy. I then purchased a much more expensive firearm, a .380 Walther PPK semi-automatic pistol, which can be carried nicely in a pants pocket, and which is much more likely to stop someone intending to hurt you.
There is a tradeoff, though, because a semi-automatic is more complicated and more likely to jam at the wrong time. Having qualified in the Army Reserve with an M1 rifle and with a .45 semi pistol, I just fired a few shots to familiarize myself with the Walther, and went on to carry it routinely for 13 years.
After I sold my business, I had no further need to carry, so I put the pistol away and never touched it again for many years. A few years ago I retired and started spending seven months a year in Florida and five months in Rhode Island. Florida is a wonderful place; it has everything, including quite a few crazies. Over the past year the thought that I might run into a situation there or on our trips down and back where I would wish I had access to a firearm had begun to enter my mind. After the Cho shootings at Virginia Tech., I made my decision: I would try to get a license-to-carry in Florida.
I found that there are classes there for persons desireing such a license, and I took one. I found also that Florida has many restrictions that Massachusetts did not have. The Florida license is called a Concealed Carry Permit, and this means your weapon must be concealed and kept in a holster with a restraint, a bag that is zippered or snapped or a box that can be secured. There are many places, like restaurants that serve liquor that you must not enter with a weapon, and Florida makes clear that your license is intended only for the personal protection of yourself and those in your party. You are not a peace officer, and you cannot use or brandish the weapon to stop the theft of property. If you see someone stealing your car, you cannot use your weapon to stop him. If someone tries to carjack you, you can kill him.
I turned in my application after taking the course and getting fingerprinted at the local sheriff's office, and received my license about a month later. Then I began researching the laws of various states to make sure I would be in compliance when I travelled. That's where it gets interesting. Apparently, with my Florida license, I can carry a loaded weapon at the ready through Florida and up through Georgia.
Before I reach the South Carolina line, though, I have to stop and unload the weapon, transfer it to the trunk of my car and store the ammunition in a separate place in the car. After I leave South Carolina I can regain use of the pistol up through North Carolina and Virginia, but before I go into Maryland, I must again unload it and transfer it to the trunk as before. (I never drive through Washington, DC if I can help it). I have to keep the weapon in the trunk through Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, except that if I venture into New York City, I must also secure the unloaded weapon in a locked box.
There is a federal law that states that a gun owner can transport an unloaded handgun (obtained legally) through any state while traveling through that state. I believe that there is also a federal law that permits a handgun owner to travel from his home and back to a target range or a gun repair shop so long as the gun is unloaded, broken down and in a locked container in the trunk.
What is needed is a federal law that permits a person with a license-to-carry to carry his weapon normally (loaded and ready to use) through any state he is traveling through on the way to his final destination. You don't get such a license anywhere until and unless you have proven that you are a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record, no mental illness noted and no domestic disturbance injunctions issued.
This is especially appropriate since violent crime has always plummeted when states enact right-to-carry laws.