The holidays are upon us and this often means that we will be traveling!
Sadly, the holidays aren’t always happy times. Some twisted individuals take advantage of people’s merry oblivion and as a result, crime rates tend to go up during this season. The most common crime that happens at this time is theft.* There are also ususally bombing threats, although these rarely seem to materialize. Also, as terrorist activities have increased a bit this year, it is best to be extra alert and prepared when going out to crowded malls, or other densely populated places, as these seem to be prime targets. If you are old enough to carry your personal firearm, I would strongly suggest you get your concealed carry permit, if you don’t have one already, and start practicing carrying and drawing from winter clothing. Cold weather makes it super easy to conceal carry effectively without printing, but it can also prove challenging drawing from it. Carry it when you go out. A gun is all well and good, as is a concealed carry permit, so long as you actually carry when you’re out. I’m going to do a post about conceal carry fashions during the party season, very soon!
Back to our topic: travel.
Travelling with a gun is not illegal (in the USA). You can even fly with one! There are just a few (haha) guidelines and precautions you should check on before you hit the road or soar the skies.
When driving through multiple states check the following for each state you are traveling through:
Make sure your license is up to date/valid and make copies of it. Carry a copy and the actual one with you, just in case.
Get any additional permits that may be required in the state you are going to, if applicable.
I strongly suggest that you research your state’s stand on the Castle Doctrine. Some states extend the castle doctrine to a person’s vehicle and workplace. This means that your car and place of work are considered an extension of your “home and private property.”**
Also, if you’re not really sure about the states you’re traveling through, it is best to keep your handgun unloaded, separate from ammunition, in a locked case in the trunk or some other place out of your access.
Note: In the United States you have constitutional protections both against unreasonable searches and seizures and against compelled self-incrimination. Although the authorities may search anywhere within your reach without a search warrant after a valid stop, they may not open and search closed luggage without probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be found, particularly when it is in a locked storage area or trunk of a vehicle, unless you consent. You have a right not to consent. Furthermore, although you may be required to identify yourself and produce a driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of automobile insurance, you have a right to remain silent. If you do not want your vehicle searched, all you have to say is “I do not consent to this search.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has established specific requirements for transporting firearms and ammunition in checked baggage on commercial aircraft, including the following:
All firearms or ammunition must be checked with the air carrier as luggage or inside checked luggage. Firearms, firearms parts, and ammunition are prohibited from carry-on baggage. Firearm parts include barrels, magazines, frames, and other internal parts of a firearm.
!!! Gun owners are strongly encouraged to double-check all baggage, even when not traveling with firearms. This is particularly important if bags also serve as range bags or are used to transport firearms and/or ammunition at other times. Inadvertently leaving ammunition or a firearm in a carry on bag will result in serious delays at security points and potential civil or criminal penalties. (This is SO important. A friend of ours actually went to jail for a while and faced enormous charges for accidentally trying to board with a carry-on that usually serves as his range bag and he had forgotten to take a loaded pistol out of the side pocket.) !!!
All firearms and/or ammunition must be declared orally or in writing in accordance with the air carrier’s procedures. Civil and criminal penalties may be applied for failure to declare a firearm in checked baggage.
All firearms must be unloaded.
The firearm must be carried in a hard-sided container. The container must be locked and only the passenger may retain the key or combination.
All checked baggage is subject to inspection. If during the inspection process it is necessary to open the container, the air carrier is required to locate the passenger and the passenger must unlock the container for further inspection. The firearm may not be transported if the passenger cannot be located to unlock the container. If you are traveling with a firearm, pay close attention to airport pages and announcements. If requested, provide the cooperation necessary to inspect your firearm.
Ammunition is prohibited from carry-on luggage. Ammunition must be transported in the manufacturer’s packaging or other packaging suitable for transport. Consult your air carrier to determine quantity limitations and whether the ammunition must be packed separately from the firearm. Because the level of training among airline personnel varies widely, passengers would be well advised to bring printed copies of firearms rules from both TSA and the particular airline being used. For further information, visit www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition
Finally, the United States Department of Justice has issued a written opinion that federal law protects airline travelers with firearms, assuming: (1) the person is traveling from somewhere he or she may lawfully possess and carry a firearm; (2) en route to the airport the firearm is unloaded and inaccessible from the passenger compartment of the person’s vehicle; (3) the person transports the firearm directly from his vehicle to the airline check-in desk without any interruption in the transportation, and (4) the firearm is carried to the check-in desk unloaded and in a locked container. DoJ Opinion Letter
Otherwise, travelers should strictly comply with FOPA and with airline and TSA policies regarding firearms transportation, avoid any unnecessary deviations on the way to checking in their baggage, be well acquainted with the firearms laws of the jurisdictions between which they are traveling, have any necessary permits or licenses ready for inspection, and have copies of relevant provisions of current law or reciprocity information printed from official sources.
Special advisory for New York & New Jersey airports: Despite federal law that protects travelers, authorities at JFK, La Guardia, Newark, and Albany airports have been known to enforce state and local firearm laws against airline travelers who are passing through their jurisdictions. In some cases, even persons traveling in full compliance with federal law have been arrested or threatened with arrest. FOPA’s protections have been substantially narrowed by court decisions in certain parts of the country, particularly in the Northeast. Persons traveling through New York and New Jersey airports may want to consider shipping their firearms to their final destinations rather than bringing them through airports in these jurisdictions. ***
The resources listed under ‘Road trip’ are also applicable (as far as laws and state guidelines go) to air travel.
Don’t let big words and impressive legal formalities scare you away from carrying this holiday season. You have the right to carry and there is no reason to be bullied into being vulnerable away from home because of a few imperious guidelines. It isn’t that hard to do a bit of research and get the necessary documentation. And seriously, in the end, it is always possible that it may save your life.
Enjoy yourself and your travels. This is a time of rejoicing and celebration. However you should never let your guard down. Always be alert and in tune with your surroundings.
One last note: perpetrators don’t abide by laws. Don’t expect an assailant to play fair, or be legal.
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season!
** https://www.gunlaws101.com/ (search ‘castle doctrine’ by your state.)