Traveling With Firearms
Do you travel with a firearm in your motorhome? If you keep a firearm in your home you might want to keep or transport one in your motorhome. Whether you want to carry a firearm in your motorhome for sporting purposes or self-defense, there are a few things you must consider.
The most important question is, is it legal? Most states, counties and municipalities have laws that restrict carrying and transporting firearms, either on your person or in your vehicle. These laws differ from location to location but, generally, the laws pertaining to handguns are more restrictive. You should also determine the legal method for transporting a firearm in those locations. Many states require the firearm to be unloaded, cased and kept in a locked compartment that is not accessible to the driver and passengers while the vehicle is on the highway.
Being legal in one state does not necessarily mean it will be legal in another. Just because your state allows you to carry a firearm on your person or in your vehicle, don’t expect the same privilege in other states. If you are going to transport firearms across state lines be sure you research the laws of the states and communities where you intend to spend one or more evenings. A good resource for firearms laws in the United States and Canada is the National Rifle Association’s website: www.nraila.org/gunlaws.
A number of motorhome owners have gone through the process of obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW permit) from their home state. Many states recognize the CCW permits of other states. Even with reciprocity agreements, if you plan to rely upon your CCW permit in other states, it is a good idea to contact those states to confirm the recognition status of your state’s permit. You can research individual state CCW laws on the Internet by searching “CCW permit.”
Canada requires a special permit in order to bring handguns and sporting rifles across the border. Don’t be surprised if your vehicle gets searched for firearms at the border crossing. Review the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca; click on “Canadian Firearms Program” under “Quick Links”) for details. Mexico has a strict weapons policy. It is illegal to bring guns, knives or ammunition into Mexico, and violators may be arrested and have their vehicle seized.
Some motorhome owners, in spite of the laws, carry loaded firearms somewhere in their RVs. Their attitude seems to be “better to be judged by 12 jurors than carried by six pallbearers.” Besides, they will say, how often do you hear of a motorhome being searched by the police? The fact is it’s not unusual for motorhomes to get searched at Canadian and Mexican border crossings, along Mexican highways that are frequented by drug transporters, and at U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints on highways north of the Mexican border. And police officers who arrest drunk drivers and other lawbreakers frequently inventory the contents of the suspects’ vehicles before having them towed to an impound lot. Searches of motorhomes do occur.
Is it necessary to carry a firearm for the purposes of self-defense? RVing is not without some risks. Motorhome owners can be victims of crimes, just like anyone else. But when RVing, you are generally in a relatively low-crime neighborhood. Motorhome travelers who make a habit of camping among other campers, locking their doors, and using common sense, rarely encounter criminal activity. Needing a firearm for self-defense should not be any more necessary while RVing than it is when you are at home.
Finally, is it practical to carry a firearm in a motorhome? Unless you want to risk getting caught with an illegal weapon, you may have to avoid stopping in states and countries you would like to visit. And an unloaded, cased firearm in a locked cabinet, while it may give you peace of mind, is not going to be readily available for self-defense.
Keep in mind that using a firearm for self-defense is only justified in a life-threatening situation. If you do decide to carry a firearm, be sure to take a professional training course so you will know how, when to and, most importantly, when not to use it.
MotorHome also explored the issue of carrying weapons in an RV in its January 2011 article, “Armed with Information.” Find it online at www.motorhomemagazine.com/motorhome-travel/armed-with-information.
Visit the Kievas’ website at www.rvknowhow.com.