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How to Plan a Road Trip while Carrying a Handgun

If you are going on a road trip, carrying a handgun with you requires some planning. Those Glock handguns for sale in one state doesn’t mean you can transport your new Glock with you to another state. Once you cross the state line open carry rules or your concealed carry permit may not apply.

The Firearms Owner Protection Act

The Firearms Owner Protection Act (FOPA), 18 U.S.C. § 926A, passed by Congress under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, specifically addressed abuses by states arresting and prosecuting peaceful gun owners traveling through a state.

As a Federal law, the FOP pre-empts state laws.

The law states that legal gunowners, authorized to have the weapon at their point of origin and final destination, may lawfully transport the gun through intervening states or jurisdictions irrespective of local regulations.

The specifics of the law require the gunowner to unload the firearm. The firearm and the ammunition must not be “…readily accessible or directly assessible from the passenger compartment of the transporting vehicle.” Usually, this means keeping the ammunition separate from each other and locked in the trunk.

If you don’t have a trunk, you must lock the gun and ammunition is some container other than the glove box or console.

FOP Problems

The statute’s use of the phrase “prompt and direct” has gotten some gun owners in trouble. Depending on the judge and prosecutor, states may try to prosecute gun owners passing through a state.

For example, if you travel up the East Coast from Florida, your final destination is New York, and have a license to carry in both states, you may be covered by FOP if you travel without stopping.

If, however, you stop in Maryland on the way and spend a week, some jurisdictions may claim FOPA does not cover you.

Often local police remain unaware of the law’s existence or, as many claim is the case, in states like New Jersey or California, that arrest gun owners anyway and force you to go to court to settle the case.

You should always carry a copy of the law with you when traveling through states with strict anti-gun laws.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Do some research about concealed carry reciprocity rules in the states you will travel through on your trip.

Some states have very good reciprocity laws. Arizona, for example, recognizes any legitimate concealed carry permit from another state. Some states too, like Virginia and Florida, issue permits recognized by 30 or more other states.

Open Carry

Many states that may not recognize your concealed carry permit have open carry laws. Thirty-one states currently allow open carry. Other states have pending laws that will permit open carry.

RV Travel

RV travel, camping, and weapons can be legally complicated. Although you may consider your RV your home, some states may not recognize it as such. In those states, laws pertaining to weapons in your home may not apply.

For example, it may be legal to have a loaded weapon in your home. A state may consider your RV a vehicle and apply stricter state laws regarding weapons.

Other states may interpret the law slightly differently and, for example, if you park your RV in a motor home park or camping location for weeks or months, the state will consider your RV your home for purposes of weapon’s possession.

Magazine Restrictions

States may restrict certain styles or class of guns. Recently some states have enacted “high capacity” magazine bans. The exact definition of high capacity varies, so you should review the laws of the states you may pass through.

Other states may allow certain types of handguns only or can restrict the amount of ammunition you can carry in your vehicle.

Wrap Up

Always check the state laws of the area you are traveling to and ensure your paperwork is in order, so you don’t face a hefty fine or even jail time due to a lack of knowledge on where or how to carry your firearm.