We are nearing the end of March and in most states that means the beginning of spring and thoughts of family vacations for Spring break. For concealed carriers planning on vacationing out of state, you need to brush up on gun transport, state reciprocity and duty to inform laws.
Every state has a different set of laws in regard to how you may transport your guns. While traveling through heavily restricted states, the McClure-Volkmer Act of 1986, an amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1986 gives travelers a “safe passage” through restricted states if guns are unloaded and cased, or locked up, and kept inaccessible with the ammunition stored separately.
If you will be traveling via plane, bus or train, there are a lot of provisions allowing for the transportation of firearms across the United States provided they’re checked in as luggage via either the TSA (for airplanes) or Amtrak’s baggage service (if by train).
Not every state provides reciprocity and recognition of handgun permits from all other U.S. States. No matter what state you live in, your ability to travel is limited to the agreements your state’s Attorney General has made with other states.
Many states require gun owners to obtain permits to carry a concealed weapon, with varying levels of restrictiveness. Some don’t require permits and allow any gun owner who meets an age restriction to carry guns – so-called permit less states. Some states honor other states’ permits, others don’t.
Those who carry a gun across the wrong state border, whether unwittingly or not, can face criminal weapons possession charges and stiff sentences. When you’re on the road, you need to know which states acknowledge your right to carry concealed (or openly) and stay within those limits.
If you are traveling through a state that does NOT acknowledge your right to carry concealed, it’s best for you to stop in a place PRIOR to entering that state and remove and unload your weapon and stow it away in the trunk. You are legally allowed to drive through a state with a gun so long as it is unloaded and not accessible.
Duty to Inform
Some states require you to identify that you have a concealed handgun to a police officer during a traffic stop. Other states have no specific requirement. It’s up to you to know the rules. In most cases, where you know you have reciprocity for carrying concealed, it’s generally a good idea to inform the police officer. He or she will then usually ask the location of the handgun and potentially ask to see your permit. If you are armed, make sure to keep your hands visible at all times and follow the direction of the officer to ensure both yours and his safety.
If you plan to vacation in an out of state area, go to that state’s website and check out the regulations for traveling with a firearm and ammunition. Not every state allows reciprocity. The site “Know the Gun Laws Before You Go”includes clickable maps showing how states stand on different gun-related issues.