We are solidly into travel season. And being that the pandemic halted all travel last year, more people are going places this summer to escape their daily lives. Heck, we’ve got two getaways scheduled this year just because.
But this brings about a problem for those of us who’d like to bring our guns with us for protection. That is,
Can I take my gun on a road trip in 2021?
There is no federal law that prohibits people traveling with legally acquired guns across state lines for lawful purposes. Where things get skewed, is at the state level. Each state has its own gun laws.
And, you need to do the best you can to stay compliant with the laws of the state you’re in. Before we get on to some of the states, let’s tackle what federal law says about interstate travel with a firearm:
Federal law 926a
Federal law says that if you are legally allowed to own and carry a gun in your home state and the state you’re traveling to, that you must be entitled to transport the gun.
Of course, there are rules to follow like keeping the gun unloaded and locked. I’ll leave the interpretation of 926a up to you. Here it is in full:
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
Even with the above federal law in place, I always try to avoid traveling through anti-gun states if at all possible to try and avoid any issues.
And of course, to my knowledge 926A only helps you if you’re traveling through an anti-gun state. If you’re traveling TO an anti-gun state, you may find yourself up a creek.
It’s recommended that you keep your gun locked in some sort of case like one of these from Pelican, and keep it as far away from people as possible. So, in a trunk if you have one.
Gun laws by state:
The federal laws are one thing, but individual state laws regarding the transport of firearms is another animal altogether.
There are some things that you must do to stay compliant. First, you should always know the gun laws of the states you’re visiting and traveling through. There really is only one way to know these laws for sure, and that’s to do the research beforehand.
I recommend a couple of resources to everyone I meet who has plans to travel.
One of them is free, the other is paid. They’re both offered by the same company.
The first one is the free reciprocity map builder by concealedcarry.com. This tool is intuitive and while there are plenty of other maps that do the same thing, this one is the easiest I’ve come across, at least in terms of usage.
Legal Boundaries Book
The second tool is the book concealedcarry.com publishes that is called Legal Boundaries By State. This is a great tool that is designed to help you stay up to date on the gun laws of the states you may be traveling in. I’m not just saying it’s great because I played a very small part in its creation — it’s a valuable resource.
Get your Concealed Carry Permit
When you get your concealed carry permit you open yourself up to more armed travel than you would if you just let your constitutional carry stand.
I may catch some heat from some of your for this, and that’s okay because I have two goals here. First, I want to keep you out of trouble. Second, I want to keep me out of trouble.
I’ll never tell you to do something illegal no matter how hard you hit me in the comments. If you want to travel to New Jersey with your gun, good luck. Leave me out of it.
Most of the states that offer constitutional carry still have a permit process that you should go through. Why? Because it makes your life easier.
If your state does have a permit process and you plan to travel, you should get your permit. The reason why is because you are less likely to get jammed up if you do.
Now if you live in a state that doesn’t offer a permit process, like Vermont if my memory serves me correctly, you should still try to get a non-resident permit from another state (Arizona, Utah, Virginia).
That way when you go on vacation you’re better off.
And then, I’d only try to travel to states where you can be armed. If you get caught in any of these states with a gun, even if you’re legally permitted in your home state, you will go to jail:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
How do I know? Because it happens way more often that it should.
Conclusion to Can I take my gun on a road trip in 2021?
Traveling with your gun should be easier than it is. Sadly, these are the rules we’re given. It’s a patchwork of gun laws in all 50 states, and some states with different laws by locality.
The best thing you can do is stay up to date on the gun laws in the state you’re traveling through and to, to make sure you don’t go to jail.
Let me know in the comments below if you think I’m wrong on this.