Hitting the road in an RV is a fun and exciting prospect, but what if you want to travel in your RV with a gun?
Whether you’re traveling out of state for a shooting competition or you just want to bring your carry gun with you for extra protection from both two-legged and four-legged threats on the road, the idea of crossing multiple state lines with a firearm can be a daunting prospect.
Between these legal concerns, and the general security issues associated with traveling with something as valuable as a firearm, it can almost be enough to make you want to leave your gun at home!
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there that can help keep you from running afoul of state, federal, and local laws when traveling with a firearm, and many options for keeping your gun out of unauthorized hands.
Let’s start with the legal stuff, and then we can look at options for securing your firearm as you travel on your road trip.
Note: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. This content is for informational purposes only.
Road Tripping with a Firearm: Legal Stuff
First and foremost, you need to be aware that your RV is almost always classified as a vehicle, and NOT a home, even if you live in it full time. The only time it is considered a home or dwelling is if it is permanently hooked up to utilities or otherwise not easily mobile. This is important for some state laws regarding what can be searched and when, so keep that in mind.
Next, there’s the actual act of transporting your firearm across state lines. According to the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA), you are covered under federal law if you are transporting a firearm from somewhere you are allowed to possess the firearm, to somewhere else you are allowed to possess the firearm, as long as you do not stop, and have the firearm unloaded and separate from any ammunition in a locked container other than the glovebox or center console.
What this means is that if you have to travel from one gun-friendly state to another and there’s a not-so-gun-friendly state in the middle, you can still travel through that state as long as you have no plans to stop for anything other than quick meals and gas, and you have the firearm and ammo locked up separately, out of easy reach, and in a hard-sided container.
In other words, if you’re going to be traveling through a state in which you are not allowed to possess or carry your firearm, keep it locked in the trunk and unloaded, and you have a legal defense should your vehicle be searched by police. We’ll cover some specific recommendations for safes and lock boxes in the security section at the end.
Note, this is considered an “affirmative defense” in some states, meaning you can still be arrested or otherwise detained, but you can then rely on the FOPA laws in your defense. If you’re at all concerned, or have a state with a particularly harsh stance on firearms in your way, I would suggest finding an alternate route, or shipping your firearm to your destination.
Personally, I would never travel through California, Maryland, New York, or New Jersey with a firearm I was not allowed to own and carry in those states. All four of these states have legal precedents for harshly prosecuting gun owners who thought they were safe under FOPA.
Now, if you can actually own, carry, and otherwise possess said firearm in the state you’re traveling through, that’s a different story.
Road Tripping with a Firearm: Know Your State Laws
If you are carrying the firearm in your vehicle in a way that’s not covered by FOPA, or you’re stopping to sightsee or to sleep for the night, you need to follow all state laws, including ones regarding what types of firearms you’re allowed to own. Be sure to follow any magazine restrictions as well.
As far as actually carrying the firearm on your person for self-defense, you’ll definitely need to look into that particular state’s laws and regulations regarding carrying a gun either open or concealed.
A good place to do all of this is Guns to Carry’s Gun Laws by State listing. This is what I double check whenever I’m driving through a state that has gun laws I’m not familiar with. Also, some states will honor out-of-state carry permits, so if you have a permit in say, Georgia, do you know what other states honor your carry permit?
You could memorize a long list, or you could just check out this Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map that will tell you which states honor which permits, as well as which states have constitutional carry and thus don’t require a permit.
Road Tripping with a Firearm: Keeping your Gun Safe in Your RV
Finally, you need to look at keeping your firearm safe and protected from unauthorized access (thieves, children, nosy guests) while it’s in your vehicle. You also need to be able to secure your firearm in a locked container that is “not easily accessible by the driver or any passengers” to be in compliance with FOPA.
The best solution for this is a gun safe. There are a number of safes that will allow you to securely lock away your firearms when you need to keep them protected, and many are large enough to also store jewelry, documents, or a wallet when you want to leave them safe in the vehicle.
I personally recommend the Liberty Home Defender HDX for a permanently mounted safe that will meet FOPA requirements and also give you a little extra storage space alongside your handgun.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, this Stack-On safe easily fits into a drawer for discreet and secure storage of a handgun.
Finally, if you’re transporting long guns I recommend grabbing a few Pelican Cases that are large enough to transport rifles. This will give you the ability to safely store them by locking them down to a solid object in your RV via a cable lock, but won’t take up any space when you don’t have the guns on board.
Carrying a gun in your RV can be a stressful prospect, but as long as you know your state laws and understand federal statutes, and have a secure, lockable place to store the gun in question, you should be just fine.