With some knowledge and preparation, you can travel state-to-state or even cross-country with your firearms to hunt, compete, or just see the sights.
I live full-time on the road shooting 3-Gun and USPSA competitions all over America. As a concealed carry license holder, I also concealed carry in all states I'm legally allowed. People often ask how I travel with firearms, so here's the scoop.
Remember, It's up to you to understand your state and federal laws!
Firearms Owners Protection Act and How It Helps You
The Firearms Owners Protection Act is one of the most important laws to know when traveling with guns. FOPA “permits the interstate transportation of unloaded firearms by any person not prohibited by Federal law from such transportation regardless of any State law or regulation.” In a nutshell, if your firearms are legal at point A and point B of a trip, they are protected in other states you may pass through --regardless if they are legal there or not.
For example, New England has what locals refer to as “the gauntlet" -- a herd of anti-gun states in-between New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Pennsylvania. (i.e., Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, to name a few.) These anti-gun states do not have reciprocity with any other state gun licenses and have very strict gun laws. I'm from New Hampshire, a firearm friendly state, and because of FOPA, I’m protected as I pass through those anti-gun states.
It's a good idea to keep documentation in the car as you travel. This includes a copy of FOPA and the laws pertaining to your destination. If you are going to a shooting competition, hunting, or partaking in another firearm-related activity, it never hurts to have documentation about that event as well. Brush up on FOPA in its entirety here.
What It's Like Traveling Cross-Country with Firearms
Every state has different laws regarding the transportation of firearms and ammunition, so educate yourself before getting in the car. The best practice is to keep firearms and ammo in separate compartments in separate containers. If you have a car, store them in your trunk. If you have an SUV, secure them in a spot that is inaccessible to the driver or passenger.
Have designated cases for your guns and separate containers designated for ammo. Though not every state requires this, it's a good practice when traveling. Pelican cases are great options, as they are rugged and lockable. Another option for ammo I like to use is ammo cans. They are cheap and easy! Conversion kits make them lockable, and the kits are simple to install.
What about licensing? You'll want your home state's concealed carry permit if the state issues one, but it can be advantageous to invest in other CCW permits. For example, Utah offers nonresident permits to out-of-staters who take a class. Utah permits are good in a large number of states. I have licenses in other states, but Utah is my most valued one.
If you haven't already, download the USCCA app right now. This is the most useful app you can have as a gun owner. USCCA allows you to plug in the firearm licenses you have and will visually show on amap where you have reciprocity.This tool also gives the ability to select states and further read their laws.
What About Full-Time RVers?
Discussing firearm transportation for full-time RVers is speaking to a niche market, but there is a community of full-timers who most likely have firearms. So here are some tips for full-time living. A travel trailer is considered a separate compartment. That means if you are towing with a truck or SUV, the RV provides a space to hold your goods -- keeping up that separate compartment practice.
Some states, not all, consider an RV a domicile, and thus it's protected under the Fourth Amendment -- meaning that if you are pulled over, a search warrant would be needed. This only applies to full-timers, though -- not weekend RVers. I have full-timer’s insurance to prove this, should I ever be pulled over.
Not every state recognizes an RV as a domicile, so research is key. Bust out that USCCA app and check laws regarding home protection.
Other Tips for the Road
Though you should always obey all traffic laws, be especially conservative when driving with firearms. Resist the urge to roll a stop sign or go over the speed limit. Just do the right thing and give no reason to get pulled over.
We can all agree gun stickers are awesome, but to a criminal eyeballing your rig, gun related stickers say you might have something worth stealing. Driving locally, I loved supporting local shops and favorite brands. Setting out on cross-country adventures, though, the advertisement wasn’t worth the risk.
Now Go Travel!
Many people skip going out-of-state to hunt or shoot competitions because they simply don't understand how to transport their firearms. I feel an additional number of people do not bring their concealed carry guns due to fear and anxiety of other state laws. With some easy research and preparation, traveling with guns is easy.