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Thinking of traveling this summer? You’re not alone. Millions and millions of people hit the road or take to the not-so-friendly skies when the kids get out of school. But, what if you want to take your gun along? Can you? In this article, I want to tell you that you probably can, but there are a few things you need to know.

To those of us who regularly travel the country (and maybe even beyond) with our firearms, this article might seem a little silly. But, when I was instructing full time, I frequently had students who thought they couldn’t leave the state with their gun, or thought it was too big of a pain to bother with (especially for air travel). With all of the new gun owners who have jumped aboard in the last few years in constitutional carry states, this is a topic we should be regularly reminding people of so that everyone can exercise their rights to the fullest.

International Travel

The first thing I want to make clear is that this article is only going to cover domestic travel. It is definitely possible to take a gun to many other countries, but every country has different laws that you’ll need to consider. Basically no country is as easy going about guns as the United States, so definitely check ahead of time to see what you can do without getting into serious trouble.

For example, Canada doesn’t really respect the right to keep and bear arms for the crown’s subjects (who think they’re citizens) and any visitors. But, if you look into the laws you’ll find that you can take along a “nonrestricted” firearm without too much hassle, and this class includes things like lever-action and pump rifles.

If you can reasonably claim to be transiting through Canada or protecting yourself from wild animals in remote areas as well as hunting, you can get a temporary license that allows you to possess it in your vehicle as long as it’s unloaded. For this reason, pump action versions of the AR are popular up north. But, keep in mind that Canadian use of force laws differ from those in the United States.

So, don’t assume the answer is always “no” outside of the United States. Sometimes it’s a soft “yes,” so it pays to do your research and make some phone calls.

Traveling In The United States

For domestic travel, keep in mind that regardless of any state’s laws, you’re protected by the Firearm Owner Protection Act. This means that even in California and New York, you can pass through the state with a firearm. You have to unload it, lock it in a case and store it in another part of the vehicle than you’re in (and keep it inaccessible), but this keeps such states from legally disarming you if all you need to do is drive through. But it only covers you when passing through states like California, New York, New Jersey and maybe a few others, not if you stop there, even to rest.

The act also similarly covers you for air travel. You can’t take the gun with you into the passenger space on the plane, but you can declare a firearm to the airline and have it in your checked bag to get back out at your destination. Check ahead with your airline for procedures and arrive early to have extra time to check in. The gun will need to be in a locked case, and you absolutely need to declare it with the airline.

Driving, in most states, you don’t have to worry about locking the gun up and having it inaccessible in your car. The majority of states now have constitutional carry laws allowing you to carry, and more will let you carry on your home state’s permit through reciprocity. But, you need to check ahead and know the laws and off-limits places in each state you’re going to. For that, I usually use Handgunlaw.us and check for reciprocity on USA Carry’s interactive reciprocity map.

Here’s what the map looks like for my New Mexico and Utah permits:

Beyond the state off-limits places you’ll find at Handgunlaw.us, there are a few off-limits places under federal law to keep in mind in your travels as well. The big ones you’re likely to encounter while traveling include:

  • Federal buildings, including things like visitor centers on BLM lands, national forests and national parks (national parks outside of buildings are no longer restricted since 2010, but bathrooms may still be as they are considered a building on federal lands)
  • Airports beyond the security checkpoints
  • Army Corp of Engineers lakes
  • Military bases
  • Any Indian reservations that prohibit firearms (check ahead, as not all do)

A great service of a company like U.S. LawShield is if you’re a member, you can also call your state’s nonemergency line and have an actual attorney provide detailed information on where and how to carry or transport your arms through whichever states you will travel. It’s like the old AAA Triptik for guns.

So, yes, you CAN travel with your firearm on most summer vacations. Just be sure to do a little bit of homework before you go.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent.
    Your comment on the Crown well taken. We did not all move to America for religious freedom. We moved to get away from the Crown. You family, land, money, any freedom was at the mercy of the Crown. Well said.

  2. Good(elderly)friend’s recently traveled to Alabama and spent a couple weeks there. Only our female friend carried a gat being careful to only travel through Indiana CCL reciprocity states. They had no problems🙄

  3. NY isn’t much of an issue if the firearms in question are SAFE act legal with extra attention to pistol issues (have a permits one for here or it is FOPA). MA on the other hand FOPA or you are going directly to and from a sanctioned shooting sports event or don’t bother as you need a permit to handle ammunition or firearms to begin with.

  4. Washington recognizes a vehicle is a residence supported by federal judges. It would be interesting to see how another state would react to a firearm in your residence.

  5. These are BADDLEY in need of litigation and legislative attention

    Federal buildings, including things like visitor centers on BLM lands, national forests and national parks (national parks outside of buildings are no longer restricted since 2010, but bathrooms may still be as they are considered a building on federal lands)

    Army Corp of Engineers lakes
    Military bases
    Any Indian reservations that prohibit firearms (check ahead, as not all do) – Again with the BS “were an independent nation when it is convenient/give us handouts”

    And stay out of Canuckistan and other marxist places/states.

  6. If you ever fly through NYC (Kennedy & LaGuardia) and you miss a connecting flight, NEVER EVER pick up your checked firearm. Make the airline hold onto it and put it on your next flight the following day otherwise the NY/NJ Port Authority police will arrest you for possession of an unregistered firearm even though that’s unlawful per federal law 86’ FOPA and violates the US Constitution. This was common for decades.

    • Moral of the story:

      Do NOT fly through New York City and you will never have to worry about NY/NJ Port Authority police arresting you for possessing a firearm.

        • Oddly enough, the map varies depending on where you have a permit. Why does PA honor my permit (as well as others), but it doesn’t honor NM? What’s so bad about the NM permit?

          I remembered this from a few years ago. I unloaded my piece and kept it in the trunk while in NJ. On the way back, I armed myself after I crossed into PA.

          I’m sure it looked odd if anyone was watching. It was in a Waffle House parking lot. I got it out of the trunk, loaded it, chambered a round, and walked into the restaurant lol.

  7. How many mezkins did Alaska crush when it grounded into Mexico?
    I tell yah that state gets around.
    Since there are more States with constitutional carry then not it’s time for National Reciprocity.

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