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How to Summer Vacation in the US with your Carry Gun

How to Summer Vacation in the US with your Carry Gun


As the Summer travel season inches closer, Americans are more likely than at any other time of year to take to the road, sky, or water as part of their plans. Often this means crossing state lines, and if you intend to carry a self-defense weapon for some, or all of your trip, you must plan accordingly. So lets look at a few things to consider before strapping up and taking off for a week or two this summer.

Permit Issues

Firstly, while over half of the country has some sort of Constitutional/Permitless Carry law, many of us still have concealed carry permits, and they can be of significant benefit when travelling. The primary one being that permits come with some reciprocity. There are still 21 states that won’t be rolling out permitless carry anytime soon, though they all must have some kind of shall-issue concealed weapons permitting law. The entire West coast, New England, central Atlantic, and Northern Midwest regions will be off limits if you didn’t have a permit with reciprocity in those states. Check local laws on carry (especially how it's treated inside a vehicle) before crossing the border, figure out who will allow you to do so legally through permitless carry or reciprocity with your permit state(s), and plan your route accordingly.

It may be beneficial for someone who plans to travel frequently across state lines to get a non-resident permit in a high reciprocity state. Several offer legal out-of-state carry for 30+ other states, such as Utah(36), Alabama(32), Missouri(36), and Arizona(36), and can greatly expand where you can lawfully carry while on the go. Check a reciprocity map to see which permit might work best for you.

Weapons Law Issues

Once you know you can lawfully carry, there is the consideration of what’s actually in your holster. The legality of a specific firearm, magazine capacity, (and in the case of NJ, even ammo) and use of force varies from state to state. 12 US states and the District have some sort of magazine capacity restriction, with 9 of them actively barring the importation/carry entirely. While you may technically carry above the restricted limit in the remaining 4 states, you might run into some pointed questions from Law Enforcement should you encounter them. What constitutes lawful self-defense, and which firearms are legal to own/carry varies state-to-state as well. Once again, taking the time to research the laws in the state(s) you will be visiting can be vital to keeping your vacation on track down the road. And maybe just skip New Jersey entirely.

Travel issues

Transporting firearms is often less legally fraught than carrying them, though it can raise issues of its own. If you are planning to stick to ground-based transport on your trip, things are relatively straightforward. No matter which state you are travelling through, you can bank on 18 USC § 926A, otherwise known as the “peaceable journey” law. According to this federal statute, if your travel begins and ends in a state in which the possession or carry of a given weapon is lawful, you may transport it across a state which would not otherwise allow such possession. To comply with this law, the weapon in question must be stored securely, while unloaded, and both it and any accompanying separate ammunition must be inaccessible to the passenger compartment (such as in a trunk). If there is no trunk, the ammo and firearm may be in locked containers (excluding the vehicle console or glove compartment).

There are other factors that may come into play that impact a lawful gun owner, but those are three of the big ones. With a little research, a bit of planning, and a proactive plan, you can go almost anywhere in the US (or at least drive through) without accidentally winding up on the wrong side of the law. So this summer, travel safe, travel smart, and travel armed!

By Lars Smith

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