When gun owners travel with their firearms, they should have two primary concerns: safety and lawfulness.
Responsible gun owners are generally aware of firearm safety and practice it diligently and consistently. They’re also likely to understand the legal gun regulations within their state and local area.
However, traveling with a gun can be more challenging when it comes to understanding and abiding gun laws.
This is due to gun legislation varying between states and, in some cases, local regions. Thus, here are 6 practical tips for traveling safely and lawfully with your firearm.
1. Research by State
When traveling by road to a different state, gun owners are subject to the governance of that state’s gun legislation while within state boundaries.
Since gun restrictions and regulations change frequently, gun owners should research each state’s gun laws, whether they’re passing through or reaching their destination.
Knowing specific gun legislation ahead of traveling with firearms will allow gun owners to protect themselves lawfully and prevent any unnecessary legal problems.
2. Separation of Gun and Ammunition
Gun owners should adhere to the highest safety measures when traveling with firearms.
For road travel, this means guns should be unloaded, locked in a gun case, and the gun case should be out of reach of the driver and passengers. Ammunition should be stored and locked in a separate container (not in the gun case).
Generally, travelers can legally transport firearms across state lines while driving if they follow those steps.
However, gun laws differ by state, so drivers and their passengers should be familiar with each state’s firearm legislation.
3. Know and Understand Air Travel Regulations
Traveling by air can be especially stressful for gun owners who wish to bring their firearms. In the US, air travel is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which sets restrictions for firearms, ammunition and equipment.
Additionally, some airlines set their own requirements for people traveling with guns, whether through added fees or prohibited items.
Therefore, it’s best to know and understand not only the FAA regulations, but also any variations of airlines as well.
4. Smart Packing for Air Travel
FAA regulations stipulate a minimum age of 18 to check a weapon. Passengers must declare their firearms to all authorities at the ticket counter and checkpoints to avoid any detrimental security issues.
When packing firearms for air travel, the FAA requires all weapons to be unloaded and documentation signed to this effect.
Rifles and shotguns must be transported in separate, hard-sided cases that can be properly locked. Handguns must also be transported in hard cases but can be packed inside a checked suitcase if desired.
FAA limits ammunition to 11 pounds, and individual airlines can further stipulate ammunition restrictions. Ammunition should be packed in the original manufacturer packaging if possible, or in secure wood or metal boxes. Ammunition should be transported in checked luggage.
5. Train Travel Tip
Trains such as Amtrak accept reservations for transport of firearms and ammunition between stations and on trains traveling within the US.
The important tip to know for train travel is passengers must notify Amtrak authorities no later than 24 hours prior to departure if they plan to check a firearm and/or ammunition. Reservations for firearms/ammunition cannot be made online; they must be made in person or by phone.
Passengers must travel on the same train as their checked firearm/ammunition, and they must check into the station at least 30 minutes prior to departure.
As with air travel, guns must be unloaded, locked in hard-sided cases and checked with baggage. Ammunition must be packed properly as well, either in manufacturer packaging or secure fiber, wood or metal box, and stored in checked luggage.
6. Other Transportation Restrictions
Certain transportation services such as Greyhound Bus, Uber and Lyft set their own regulations regarding passengers traveling with firearms.
Most services have a “no firearms” policy stated in their company contract. Due to the autonomous nature of private businesses, companies such as Greyhound, Uber and Lyft can regulate their own firearm policy regardless of state or local gun laws.
Travelers with guns should consult all transportation services regarding firearm policies before utilizing their services.
It might seem that traveling with a gun is tedious and complicated. Gun owners might feel such variation in regulations and number of restrictions counter-productive to personal gun rights.
However, these travel rules and regulations are intended to preserve the safety and security of fellow travelers, authority personnel, others involved in the transportation industry and gun owners themselves.
Traveling with a gun does require extra steps, but knowledge and preparation can ease the process for successful trips.