Have you ever wondered about how to safely and legally travel with your firearms in your vehicle? While some might tell you that it’s not legal to travel across state lines with your guns in the car, transportation regulations involving guns can differ a lot from state to state. These regulations are subject to change often, so before you hit the road to visit family or hunt, it's important to know what you need to do to be in compliance.
Federal law states that if you have a felony conviction, you cannot be in possession of a firearm. So this one law, because it’s federal, is true of all the states. There is also the Firearms Owners Protection Act, a federal law that discusses the legal method to transport firearms as unloaded and locked away and out of reach in a trunk, or a locked case out of reach of the driver and passengers of the vehicle. The same is true of ammunition. If you're traveling into or through a state that requires storage while driving, make sure to use a locking gun safe.
If your travels do not take you across state lines, the trip is an easy one. Know the laws for that state and follow them from point A to point B.
However, if you’ll be crossing one or multiple state lines, the trip gets a bit trickier. Not only do you need to know and comply with the laws in the state when your trip originates and your destination state, but you’ll also need to know the laws in every single state you will be traveling through - laws between states could not be more different.
Some states have an open carry policy where guns can be transported in the vehicle without issue. However, some states are very restrictive in their laws, such as New Jersey, where transportation of firearms is illegal unless you have a carry permit issued by the State of New Jersey. Making things even more complex, New Jersey does not recognize carry permits from other states.
If your travels take you through a heavily regulated state, it can end up being easier to leave your guns at home.
Transporting your firearms from Point A to Point B in a vehicle is completely different than expecting to be able to open or concealed carry your firearm in a state other than your state of residence. Be sure to note the differences from carrying in your vehicle and carrying on your person.
If you are a concealed carry holder and wish to carry in other states, you will need to do a little research to determine which states have reciprocity with yours as far as concealed handgun permits are concerned. Some states are open carry and require no permit to have a handgun on your person. Other states may recognize a concealed carry permit from your home state as a permit for concealed carry. While other states do not recognize any other state’s permit, requiring you to have one of their permits in order to carry your handgun while in that state.
An online search will reveal several different websites that cover the current state laws involving firearms transportation through the different states you may be visiting. Just be sure to cross-reference any information with more than one site, or count on a site that specializes in firearm laws, such as Handgunlaw.us or NRA's Gun Laws website. Remember to review the law for each state that you will travel through and purchase the necessary equipment such as a separate locking container if needed.
Traveling with firearms can be complex, but arming yourself with information when you need to take your gun on a road trip will help you when you're ready to hit the road. Make sure to carry all permits and documents with you and it can't hurt to have your lawyer’s contact information handy as well. As long as you follow the laws in the states you will be traveling in and through, your trip should go smoothly.
The information in this article does not in any way construe legal advice.