Guns and Weapons on the Road
By Kent Butterfield
Reprinted from Fulltime Families Magazine
Nothing in this article is to be construed as legal advice. You are responsible to ensure the legality of your actions and the means of transport and use of your weapons.
Have you ever made a wrong turn into a seedy neighborhood? Ever been apprehensive about your surroundings and neighbors while camping? Have you ever boondocked and heard noises around your campsite not knowing what was out there? Any of these can be tense situations if you are not sure of the safety of your family. To feel secure in these situations many RVers are carrying weapons for security and peace of mind, but there is much you should know before you decide to follow this path. Before carrying a gun, taser or chemical spray as part of your RV inventory you need to understand the legalities, your capabilities and the benefits and dangers of carrying weapons.
The Supreme Court has recently ruled that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms for personal protection but not without restrictions. In addition to federal gun laws imposed by the National Firearms Act (1934), Gun Control Act (1968), Firearms Owner`s Protection Act (1986), Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), the 1994 Omnibus Crime Control Act and other laws, most states and some local jurisdictions have imposed their own firearms restrictions. The significant points to remember:
- No federal permit is required (or available) for the interstate transportation of personal firearms. Many states and localities have laws governing the transportation of firearms. Travelers must be aware of these laws and comply with legal requirements in each jurisdiction. If in doubt, a traveler should carry firearms unloaded, locked in a case, and stored in an area (such as a trunk or attached toolbox) where they are inaccessible from a vehicle’s passenger compartment and not visible from outside the vehicle. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate locked container.
- A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.
- As soon as any firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed loaded or readily accessible in a vehicle, state and local laws regarding the carrying of firearms apply. Each state has the authority to control how weapons are legally carried within their boundaries. When you are in a state the laws of that state apply to you regardless of what your state of residence is. You are responsible to know the laws of the state you are in. Every state’s laws are unique to that state.
- If you travel with a trailer or camper that is hauled by an automobile, it is possible to transport the firearms in your camping vehicle. A better practice is to travel with the weapon unloaded, cased and locked in the trunk of the car. If your vehicle is of the type in which driving and living spaces are not separated, the problem becomes one of access. It is best to find a lockable compartment, one not accessible from the driver/passenger compartment, and store the unloaded weapons there in a locked case.