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Transporting A Firearm Across State Lines

April 12, 2010 by · 14 Comments 


locked gunSo your family is crossing the country to see Aunt May and Uncle Joe. And,  they love to go target shooting and hunting with you. Do you know the rules for gun transporting across state lines?

Transporting a firearm across state lines in the U.S. is normally not a problem as long as you follow the gun transport laws laid out by the Gun Control Act which is enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Federal gun transport laws provide that any individual (except convicted felons, persons under indictment for felonies, mental defectives or incompetents, illegal users of controlled drugs, illegal aliens, veterans dishonorably discharged, those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship, fugitives from justice, persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, and persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders) may transport a firearm from one location where the individual is lawfully allowed to posses and carry a firearm to another location the individual is lawfully allowed the firearm, as long as it is unloaded and not in the passenger compartment of your car, which normally means in the trunk.

But, what about in your RV, where you have no trunk? Gun transporting in your RV across states lines is basically the same; the gun should be unloaded and stored in the back of the RV in a locked compartment. It should never be in the glove box or console. The key to transporting a firearm is that it should never be where you or anyone else can get to it easily and it must be unloaded.

State and local gun transport laws vary from place to place and it is your responsibility as the gun owner to research the laws of the area you are visiting or passing through. A good case in point is Chicago. The City of Chicago, Illinois requires every firearm possessed in the city to be registered. Chicago does not register handguns that were not previously registered there. There are places that do not allow possession of any handgun. California has strict regulations that may require a California permit and registration for specific semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic pistols, shotguns and any other firearm that is considered an “assault weapon” before you enter the state.

CAUTION; Massachusetts has one of the most restrictive gun laws in the United States, violators receive a mandatory one-year jail sentence for illegally possessing a firearm, loaded or unloaded, “on his person or under his control in a vehicle.” Gun transporting must be done as prescribed in the Gun Control Act.

Transporting a firearm under the provisions allowed by the Gun Control Act is not complicated as long as you follow the gun transport laws. But, do not ignore local and state laws. It would be unwise to take your gun from its secured location unless you know for sure that in the area you are visiting you will not be in violation of any local or state laws. For an overview of jurisdictions with special rules or changes to the current gun transport laws, you may consult the website for the National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action.


14 Responses to “Transporting A Firearm Across State Lines”
  1. =) ♥ Wheel Of Time says:

    wow that is cool =) if i ever get a gun i will remember to look up all the gun laws in my city and state.

  2. Crazy Old Coot says:

    There are some significant restrictions when crossing the border into Canada while in possession of a firearm. BE SURE to check on their regulations if you plan on going into their country with a firearm.

    I know many follow the “Don’t ask and don’t tell” rule with their firearms on board. Personally, after reading your article I would not want to go into Massachusetts with even a water pistol! Thanks for the great write-up and information!

  3. RA Manseau says:

    Crazy Old Coot,
    Thanks so much for bringing up crossing the border into Canada. You are absolutely right we should always check the laws when traveling with a gun. I know that I do not want to get detained and possibly charged with a crime just because I did not realize it might be a problem.

  4. Visit Woodall’s Article “Crossing into Canada” for 2010 rules about this. It briefly mentions firearms:

  5. Skip Clark says:

    FYI. When you say that “it, meaning the gun, should never be in the glove box or console” I am sure you meant “unless one has a concealed weapons permit.” It is wise to check with each state because some will recognize your state permit and some won’t. For example, Wisconsin does not allow any hand guns, even if you have a concealed carry permit from your home state.
    Good article and good info.

  6. Larry says:

    R A Manseau, where did you dig up this “gun control act”? I’ve never heard of it and I consider myself fairly well up on the ins and outs of gun legalaties. When I travel with mine, I do the necessary research before I leave, and as for the states and localities that have severe restrictions on firearms, I generally have to adhere to the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy because I sure as heck ain’t gonna leave it home just because there is such a state or locality on my route to where I am going. I didn’t go to all the trouble and expense of training etc to get my concealed carry permit for nothing. Sure as heck, if I leave it home, the Murphy factor will kick in and in those places, to quote a common saying, “I’d rather be judged by twelve than be carried by six.”

  7. Owen says:

    We are full time RV’ers, with a large motor home and a comfortable income we choose to spend liberally. I am also pro gun. Because of that, I have deliberately chosen to avoid certain states and choose to spend our money elsewhere. For that reason, I do not go to California, Illinois, New York and Massachisetts. I suppose I must now add Wisconsin. If their merchants tolerate laws I do not agree with, then they do not need to have a share of our money. It is possible to easily avoid California by traveling on US 95 or US93 (if you do not mind the inconvenience of possibly not being allowed to cross Hoover Dam. Fringe states like New York and Massachusetts are easy to avoid. Illinois is a bit more difficult, but I chose to make those sacrifices.

  8. vet66 says:

    I have a CCW permit from Arizona which is recognized by 31 other states with reciprocity. I fully support our rights under the second ammendment and avoid states that do not. The stupidity of lawmakers who make a statement regarding personal protection is inexcusable. As if the criminals who make a living violating our laws will not view law abiding citizens as anything other than victims waiting to be robbed and/or killed.

    Statistics for Milaukee:
    Murder: 109
    Forcible Rape: 246
    Robbery: 2,868
    Aggravated Assault: 2,066
    Burglary: 6,041
    Larceny or Theft: 25,526
    Car Theft: 6,231
    Arson: 341
    Data Source:
    2003 FBI Report of Offenses Known to Law Enforcement
    Zero values may indicate the data was not available

    Note to the Liberals in Wisconsin: how is that disarming the law abiding citizens of your state working out for you? The thesis of the article is correct, however. People traveling in RV’s are not the top priority of law enforcement. We don’t fit the profile unless granny is driving from Mexico into the U.S. in which case the RV may get searched for drugs going north and guns going south for the cartels.

    My suggestion, as aptly stated previously, is to get trained in the use of your defensive weapon of choice and avoid states that give more rights to the perp than to the victim. I echo the sentiment that lawful possession of a defensive tool for self-protection is best adjudicated by a jury of 12 than a coffin carried by 6 friends and family. A lot can happen in the 8-10 minutes it takes for law enforcement (GOD bless them) to ride to your rescue.

  9. Michael says:

    Utah concealed weapons permit has most states that reciprocate. I live in WA, so also need OR. Never need to unholster, unload and hide your weapon. Alot of states allow Open Carry without a permit. But not in vehilcle. Check out to see what some of the laws are, there are maps for travel and concealed carry reciprocation.

  10. Cathy says:

    It’s good to have the concealed weapons permit. Just got mine. They give you the States that don’t honor your states permit. Or permit at all. But in a RV I was told it is consider a Home and you can have it in the RV all long as it is behind the drivers seat!!!! Maybe just Georgia, will have to check that out myself!

  11. Dirtbag says:

    I’m certainly glad I live in Texas! We have an “Express Lane” to Death Row!. Hmmm—-

    Anyway, I carry a weapon everywhere in the United States, thanks to Public Law 108-277. People need to be aware that if crossing into canada, they can certainly store their weapons at pretty much any gun shop or dealer. I used to do that when riding motorcycles on vacation and my partners wanted to see something in Canada. It may cost a few bucks and you may have to return to the same entrance, but it certainly is not worth the headaches or financial cost when caught by either the customs officials or the police in Canada. (Be aware that Murphy’s Law will catch up to you at
    the most inopportune time.)

    Folks with CCW permits really need to be aware of the states where they have reciprocity. I also suggest that anyone with a CCW train regularly on a weapons course similar to those used by law enforcement and to carry insurance. The other thing is the reasons one carries a weapon, the most common I hear is simply: “I carry a weapon because I’m just too old for a butt whoppin.”

    Anyway, if there are retired LEOs out there that use a CCW, they can now and should use Public Law 108-277. They may have to do some research about where to certify in their state, but it’s worth it.

    Just remember, if you’re not shootin’ you need to be reloadin’ if not reloadin’ then you need to be MOVIN!

  12. Don Roy says:

    I to travel the country with an RV. I am licenced to carry in AZ and agree with other writers in avoiding states that believe in criminal rights over honest citizens. My wife and I are traveling to Alaska this year
    and have replaced my hand gun with bear spray and a shotgun with OO. I checked the Canadian regulations, made phone calls to Canadian authorities and obtained the proper paperwork, Not a big deal.
    Happy and safe travels to everyone.

  13. GARRY ZINN says:



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