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Carrying A Firearm During Holiday Interstate Travel: What You Need To Know 



Holiday Travel Carrying Firearm

Are you familiar with interstate driving rules and laws? Make sure you know your legal obligation when carrying a gun as you travel during the holidays.

Holiday Interstate Driving: Be Familiar With CCW State Laws

Rules and Statutes

For some, carrying becomes such a natural part of their life that they may not think twice when interstate driving during the holidays. Carrying a firearm for personal protection is a choice.

Carrying Concealed Firearm

Those who choose to carry knowingly subject themselves to interstate driving conditions and federal statutes, especially during the holidays.These statutes are necessary for they were written with the intention of protecting life.

Cases have shown that emotion-driven gun owners can make reckless choices. Consequently, these statutes continue to evolve with our society.

As you apply for a Permit to Carry in your home state, you only become familiar with your state’s laws and statutes.

Holiday Road Trip

Holiday Road Travel

Here’s a common scenario across the United States every vacation season. A family goes out west to visit their family for the holidays. 

Knowing they will be traveling past remote and wild areas, Jeff decides to bring his handgun, 3 magazines, and defensive ammunition. Traveling from Pennsylvania to Montana, there are a wide variety of state lines to cross.

At this point, gun owner Jeff has to settle with one of three choices:

  1. Keep the gun secured when he’s not carrying it, and conceal carry when appropriate. Jeff figures he doesn’t need to do anything besides follow his home state’s carry laws.
  2. Read up on each state he will go through and adjust accordingly.
  3. Decide that he doesn’t know enough about transporting firearms across state lines and does not bring a firearm.

The first one happens more often than anyone would like to admit, and evidence of that negligence is shown in the TSA’s annual weapons confiscation reports. After personally interviewing TSA officers from across the country, most agents said that firearms are usually discovered because the owner forgot they had one of them.

What is TSA? TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is the government agency in the United States responsible for ensuring security in public travel.

The last two options play out if you consider doing the research as a responsible gun owner. However, even self-directed research can still leave too many questions about execution.

Traveling from a Reciprocal to Non-Reciprocal State

If you do a search of your Permit to Carry reciprocity, you can get a snapshot of which states you can carry in. Using that, the only question is, what should I do with my handgun or firearm when I travel during the holidays through a state my permit does not have reciprocity with?

Using online tools like this gives you an idea where your permit has reciprocity. However, these free resources can be outdated, so it is important to confirm with the states you intend to go through.

Make sure you unload your firearm out of sight of any bystanders. Once your ammunition is back in its factory box and secured, lock your firearm in a hard-sided case in the back of your car during holiday travel.

Ammunition is always separate and the firearm is secured to a seat frame if it’s bolted to the frame or floorboards.

There are a wide variety of ways to lock your firearm in your car. The easiest and legal way to do so is with a cable lock through the magazine well or cylinder and stored in a permanent structure in your car.

Remember, nearly any police department should have gun locks on hand to give to the public for free if they ask. Project Childsafe has been a large part of that, and you can find one of their partners through this interactive map.

Keep Yourself More Informed

Gun Safety

You have to be familiar with the local laws and statues in the states you intend to carry in. Most of the time you only need to contact that state’s department of public safety or its equivalent. Here’s an example of California State Laws

At the end of the day, you are the face of the gun owners’ community whenever you carry. Since most families travel during the holidays it is your job to understand the laws.Being an informed gun owner will empower and help the our community especially during the holidays.

Share your own experience in the comments below, we can always learn from other’s experiences.

Remember, none of this should be taken as legal advice. This is simply our professional recommendation as a firearms trainer and fellow gun owner. Given that flying isn’t for everyone, this is for gun owners traveling in private vehicles. That includes ATVs, motorcycles, cars, or even boats.

Public overland transportation like buses, ferries, and trains have additional regulations that you, as a paying passenger, have to follow. Again, this guide is specifically for gun owners traveling via private vehicles.

Have you tried carrying a firearm while interstate driving? Let us know in the comments section below!


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  1. Capt.Harry

    December 16, 2020 at 6:05 PM

    What’s the best up to date accurate web site to get the laws and local regulations??.

  2. CPO Bill

    December 16, 2020 at 3:13 PM

    Travel in motor home and wife and I are military trained and I’m retired cop. We go where we please as we live in it.

  3. BigKahunsBob

    December 16, 2020 at 3:10 PM

    The above shows a slight anti gun bias. Study after study show that legal permit holders who are much more likely to have a gun in their cars are much more law-abiding when it comes to driving.
    Hemenwat, D., Virniotis,M.,& Miller, M. (2006).
    Is an armed society a polite society?
    Guns and road rage. Accident Analysis and Prevention.

  4. Mike Carey

    December 16, 2020 at 3:09 PM

    12 16,2020
    I have concealed carry with Pa permit since 1991. You could usually cross state line using your common sense.(NO NY, NJ,Con,Maryland). Today you had better check on line the carry laws for each state you are going to travel in and vacation in. The laws are changing . I always carried in Virginia ( new DEM Governor).Now I stop and secure my weapon before entering the state.Don,t have your weapon confiscated because you didn’t know the carry laws. Please don’t use a 10 year old mannual to check carry laws!!!GO on line.

  5. Fredrick Rehders

    December 16, 2020 at 2:48 PM

    I have a Texas issued CHL, that I do not believe should be required. I am appalled that “Constitutional Carry” is not honored by law enforcement officers, all of whom took the oath to uphold and defend The Constitution. Exactly what is it about “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”, they do not understand?

    Capt. Costello sums it up pretty well. Judged by 12, or carried by 6, comes to mind. Personal defense and defense of family and the innocent are GOD given rights and acknowledged and guaranteed by the U.S. Federal Gov’t Supremacy Clause. I will not resist state enforcement, except in Federal Court and should have the support of every worthwhile Gun Group!

  6. Robert

    December 16, 2020 at 2:23 PM

    It is also hunting season. You must know how to properly transport your guns if you are going to hunt somewhere besides your own state. Things have gotten so complicated, I remember when we used to have gun racks in our truck and carry our guns in them during hunting season.

  7. Twd

    December 16, 2020 at 2:01 PM


  8. Capt. C Costello

    December 6, 2020 at 8:12 AM

    It’s better to be caught with it then to be caught without it so I say if your like me a love my family I will protect them at any cost I do respect police but they can’t even do there job with all the bullshit they have to put up with so that being said be responsible and carry

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