*I am not a lawyer and none of the information in this post is to be construed to be legal advice.*
Late last month, my father and I began a discussion about traveling with firearms. My dad has purchased a small RV and was keen to hear my opinions on carrying a firearm while on the road. This sent me on a trip of my own to do lots of research on the subject. I rarely travel myself so I had to rely on the experiences of others to formulate an educated answer to my dad.
The first thing I did was look through several forums and blogs that are more dedicated to this particular issue. The one thing that I was able to take from them is that research on your destination’s local and state laws is paramount. First and foremost is the importance of the decision to carry a firearm with you in the first place. Carrying a pistol or rifle come with an inherent responsibility that you owe to every single person, place or thing that you encounter. Your decision to carry could affect the lives of many more than just yourself and travel companions. Once that decision is made, the decision on what to carry comes into play. The primary question here is; what is your perceived threat? Do you spend a lot of time out in more primitive camping areas? Are predatory animals a concern? Do you tend to just pull up to any ole’ parking lot to take a rest for the night? Truck stops? What kind of lockable storage is available in your rig? These are important questions to ask yourself and making a list of your answers is helpful.
Once you’ve narrowed down your needs then a selection is to be made. One thing to keep in mind is that RV’s are small cramped quarters. Shouldering a shotgun or long rifle isn’t going to be a practical option inside the RV. My suggestion here is to have a couple options on board. A handgun of course makes excellent sense inside a vehicle, I also suggest the consideration of a pistol caliber carbine that shares an ammunition and magazine commonality with your handgun. The same system applies if you’re more of a wheelgun fan, carbines are available in .38spc/.357mag and .44mag. Of course you have the option to carry whatever you wish but this pairing in my opinion works well for the traveler. Whether you decide to go the route of a two firearm solution or a single firearm is a very personal decision and budget certainly comes into play here however, there are a few budget friendly options in these categories that offer all the benefits at the price of one “top shelf” handgun.
Gun laws are what will be the most important thing to consider after you’ve decided to carry a firearm in the first place. Different states and municipalities have different laws and ordinances and when you place yourself with a firearm in that area, your ignorance of these regulations will not be a defense to your prosecution if you are discovered armed. These laws can limit the magazine capacity, length, and size of what weapon you can legally possess. There are a few websites that consolidate applicable laws in an easy to find database. handgunlaw.us is an outstanding and very well researched example of one of these. Getting yourself a concealed handgun permit/cwp/chl…whatever your state calls it, is a very advisable thing for you to do. Many states have reciprocity with other states that allow you to freely carry your loaded and concealed handgun into and through that state, without fear of prosecution. Be advised though, that these reciprocity agreements do tend to change some, so research immediately before your trip to see if anything has changed. There are also many states that are so called “open carry” states. This means that a loaded firearm can be openly carried without breaking any laws. What this means to the RV traveler is that your firearm can be close at hand provided that it is not concealed from view in your rig.
If you still have any questions after your research is done, a phone call or visit to the attorney general’s website for the state you plan to travel to could help to clear up a lot of things. Many places also recognize the fact that when your RV is no longer moving down the highway and is serving as your “home”, the legal definition of your vehicle changes to a dwelling much like a hotel room is recognized as your dwelling when you’re inside. This is a good question to have in mind while you’re researching laws or if you call to the attorney general’s office. If traveling through more restrictive states, the federal standard for transporting of a firearm is to have it locked in a secure area (locking storage box or safe) and ammunition is to be locked away separately. I myself have no desire to visit places that would require me to give up my right and ability to protect myself and my family. The important thing to take away from this post is that your own research is necessary and so important to keep yourself on the right side of jail walls. The reason for traveling is to see wonderful sites and enjoy your time on the road. Simply ignoring the laws will result badly for you. Make good choices and train with your chosen firearms. That is what will make the difference if you’re ever forced to use them in defense. Enjoy your travels and have fun. As always stay safe, train and have a good un’.
If you’re looking for more information on the RV lifestyle, I urge you to head over to yourfulltimervliving.com. It is a great resource on the in’s and outs of living full time in an RV and has plenty of information for even the casual traveler.
Great post! I actually had to consider all these issues while traveling to my grandfathers funeral a few days ago. While your CCW may not be an issue, the places that you can carry are. From one state to the next laws differ and you can get into hot water easily if you aren’t careful. A quick internet search, common sense, and not advertising that you are carrying are always a good Rx to stay out of trouble.
All excellent points Dave, thanks for your welcomed input!