Traveling is something we all do from time to time. Whether we travel for work or recreation or even to visit family, we are a country that is constantly on the move.
And when people travel, some like to take their firearms with them.
From shooting matches down the road to hunting in other states and even taking a firearm across the country for personal protection, traveling with firearms is becoming the norm.
You can take your gun legally and safely no matter what part of the country you are going.
Is traveling with your firearm legal?
Yes, it is legal to travel with firearms. Federal law specifically allows you to transport a firearm between states. However, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. State laws can vary greatly.
Some states have very liberal laws surrounding firearm transportation, while other states have very strict laws. The safest way to travel with a firearm is to check state laws ahead of time.
If you live in a state that has very strict laws, it’s best to plan your trip around being able to travel with your firearm.
Driving with your firearm
Many people find traveling with firearms and the accessories that go with them is easier if they drive to their destination.
A shooting match or class can require 300-1000 rounds of ammo. Some airlines only allow 11lbs of ammunition. It can quickly add up.
Combine the ammo with gear, holsters, slings, bags, cleaning equipment, and more, you’ll quickly find it’s not just the gun we have to worry about when traveling.
Driving with a firearm in your vehicle is perfectly safe and legal. Federal transportation laws require guns to be unloaded and inaccessible to the driver.
If you put the case that has the unloaded firearm in the trunk, storage area in an SUV, or behind the back seat of a truck you’ll be fine.
Some states do require locked cases so be sure to know the state laws too as you travel.
A good general rule for driving with guns in the vehicle is to keep the guns unloaded, in a locked container, and inaccessible to the driver (not in the console or glove compartment).
Flying with your firearm
Flying with a firearm can be a little intimidating, but just remember people do it every day. For handguns, make sure it’s unloaded and in a hard-sided locked box. This is the tricky part. The lock must be secure, like with a padlock, and the box unable to pry it open.
If your lock is only on one side and the ticket agent can open the other side and slide a finger in the box, they may require you to have another lock put on that unsecured side. These locks on the handgun case cannot be TSA locks.
Only you should have the combination or key to open the handgun case.
I like to travel with a small handgun case inside my regular suitcase. The handgun case has a padlock and the suitcase has the TSA lock on it. This allows TSA to look in my bag, but not have access to the gun.
In addition to having the firearm secure, ammunition cannot be loose. It must be in boxes or containers specifically designed to contain ammunition.
I tape my boxes closed. If ammunition comes loose in your suitcase, you could be in trouble. And remember, nobody is gentle with your bags!
For long guns, the same rules apply. The gun must be unloaded in a locked container. The only difference is that these won’t fit in a regular suitcase so the hard case is exposed.
That is perfectly fine, just make sure you have a sturdy hard case and strong locks. Don’t forget the key and remember, it’s not a TSA lock.
After checking the bag and before you go through TSA, it’s always a good idea to wait 10-15 minutes to let your bag get through first.
If there is a question, they will call you back and possibly need to look in your suitcase. Always be present and be the one to open the gun case. At no time should anyone handle your gun.
Before you embark on any kind of trip, it’s important to be familiar with the local laws and rules. Each state has its laws online so you can know the laws before you go.
If you aren’t sure, you can contact the local sheriff of where you’ll be going and ask if they have any specific laws you should know.
This is particularly important if you have Concealed Firearm Permit. While it may be called different things in different states, some states do honor permits issued in other states. Even though the permit may be good and you can legally carry your gun in the new state, some carry laws may be different than your state laws.
For example, some states will allow you to carry in a restaurant, regardless if a sign says ‘No Guns Allowed.
Other states may require you to honor the sign and yet some states may require specific signs before you are required to honor it. Know before you go!
Traveling with firearms is a completely legal activity. However, it is important to be safe when doing so. If you are willing to do a bit of research and put a few safety precautions into place, you can travel with firearms safely and responsibly.
Wherever your travels take you, be safe and carry on!