How to Travel With Guns (Legally)
Every person who owns a gun should be intimately aware of the laws governing firearms in their state. Most people know this, but some forget that if they travel out of state with a firearm, they are under the governance of the hosting state’s laws. So, how can you avoid legal trouble when transporting your firearms from one state to another? Here’s a brief guide to traveling legally with guns.
Carrying on Your Person
If you carry a firearm on or about your person at any time during your travels, laws regarding the carrying of firearms in the state you’re physically in apply. This means that even if you’re legally allowed to conceal carry in your home state, you may not be able to legally do so in another state. Some concealed carry, or CCW, permits are legally recognized by states outside of the issuing state. For example, if you receive a CCW permit in Arizona (a CCW is not required to open or concealed carry in that state, but is still beneficial to have), 36 states, as of the date of this article publication, will honor your permit. To find out what states will offer your CCW, do a quick online search before traveling.
It is essential to note that if you come from a state that offers Constitutional Carry and doesn’t require a permit even for concealed carry, you need to be extra cautious before traveling to other states. Most states do not have constitutional carry laws, and you could find yourself in a lot of legal trouble if you break gun carrying laws in another state.
If you are transporting firearms for lawful purposes, the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may protect you from local restrictions that would normally prohibit passage. For example, under this federal law, you are entitled to transport a firearm from a location where you are lawfully allowed to carry such a firearm to a destination where you are lawfully allowed to carry such a firearm. However, the gun must be locked out of reach and unloaded during transport.
To keep yourself safe during your travels, it is wise to carry copies of all official publications or websites documenting FOPA and other federal laws regarding legal firearm transport. It is also wise to have copies of any firearms permits or licenses you may have with you while you travel.
Motor Vehicle Firearms Transportation
If you are traveling in a motor vehicle, most states allow you to transport firearms as long as they are unloaded, secured in a case and locked inside your vehicle’s trunk. If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, you should keep the firearm in a locked case out of reach of you or any passenger. Some states may have exceptions to this rule, so it is very important to carefully review gun transportation laws in any state you plan to visit or drive through.
Traveling by Plane With a Firearm
You are legally allowed to transport firearms by airplane as long as they are checked with the air carrier inside checked luggage or in a locked case checked in as luggage. All firearms must be unloaded and carried in a hard-sided container for which there is only one key (held by you, the passenger). You are not allowed to carry firearms, ammunition or firearms parts in your carry-on baggage under any circumstances. All checked firearms must be declared in writing or orally in accordance with the procedures established by the air carrier. Failure to comply could result in criminal penalties.
It’s also important to note that there are various firearms regulations for national and state parks and wildlife refuges. To make sure you’re always in compliance, take time to review firearms regulations for all your travel destinations before you go.