There are those who adopt the full time RV living lifestyle that do carry weapons on board their RV’s! This important article is worth reading if RV travel with firearms is something you do.
A friend if mine, S.M. Ingersoll at laymenstactical.com was invited to help offer his valuable opinion on this subject. I have no experience here. He however has an extensive background in military and national security service as well as he is an NRA certified firearms instructor.
So here is what Mr. Ingersoll has to say on the subject!
“I am not a lawyer and none of the information in this post is to be construed to be legal advice!”
Late last month, my father and I began a discussion about traveling with firearms. My dad has purchased a small RV and was keen to hear my opinions on carrying a firearm while on the road. This sent me on a trip of my own to do lots of research on the subject. I rarely travel myself so I had to rely on the experiences of others to formulate an educated answer to my dad, after all.
The first thing I did was look through several forums and blogs that are more dedicated to this particular issue. The one thing that I was able to take from them is that research on your destination’s local and state laws is paramount. First and foremost is the importance of the decision to carry a firearm with you in the first place.
Carrying a pistol or rifle come with an inherent responsibility that you owe to every single person, place or thing that you encounter. Your decision to carry could affect the lives of many more than just yourself and travel companions. Once that decision is made, the decision on what to carry comes into play.
The primary question here is; what is your perceived threat? Do you spend a lot of time out in more primitive camping areas? Are predatory animals a concern? Do you tend to just pull up to any ole’ parking lot to take a rest for the night? Truck stops? What kind of lockable storage is available in your rig? These are important questions to ask yourself and making a list of your answers is helpful.
RV Travel With Firearms!
Once you’ve narrowed down your needs then a selection is to be made. One thing to keep in mind is that RV’s are small cramped quarters. Shouldering a shotgun or long rifle isn’t going to be a practical option inside the RV. My suggestion here is to have a couple options on board. A handgun of course, makes excellent sense inside a vehicle. I also suggest the consideration of a pistol caliber carbine that shares an ammunition and magazine commonality with your handgun. The same system applies if you’re more of a wheel gun fan, carbines are available in .38spc/.357mag and .44mag.
Of course, you have the option to carry whatever you wish, but this pairing in my opinion works well for the traveler. Whether you decide to go the route of a two firearm solution or a single firearm is a very personal decision and budget certainly comes into play here however, there are a few budget-friendly options in these categories that offer all the benefits at the price of one “top shelf” handgun.
Gun laws are what will be the most important thing to consider after you’ve decided to carry a firearm in the first place. Different states and municipalities have different laws and ordinances and when you place yourself with a firearm in that area, your ignorance of these regulations will not be a defense to your prosecution if you are discovered armed. These laws can limit the magazine capacity, length, and size of what weapon you can legally possess. There are a few websites that consolidate applicable laws in an easy to find database. handgunlaw.us is an outstanding and very well-researched example of one of these.
Getting yourself a concealed handgun permit/cwp/chl…whatever your state calls it, is a very advisable thing for you to do. Many states have reciprocity with other states that allow you to freely carry your loaded and concealed handgun into and through that state, without fear of prosecution. Be advised though, that these reciprocity agreements do tend to change some, so research immediately before your trip to see if anything has changed.
There are also many states that are so-called “open carry” states. This means that a loaded firearm can be openly carried without breaking any laws. What this means to the RV traveler is that your firearm can be close at hand provided that it is concealed from view in your rig. Whatever state you are from, if you are able you should have a concealed cary permit regardless of where you plan to travel to.
If you still have any questions after your research is done, a phone call or visit to the attorney general’s website for the state you plan to travel to could help to clear up a lot of things. Many places also recognize the fact that when your RV is no longer moving down the highway and is serving as your “home”, the legal definition of your vehicle changes to a dwelling much like a hotel room is recognized as your dwelling when you’re inside. This is a good question to have in mind while you’re researching laws or if you call to the attorney general’s office.
If traveling through more restrictive states, the federal standard for transporting of a firearm is to have it locked in a secure area (locking storage box or safe) and ammunition is to be locked away separately. I myself have no desire to visit places that would require me to give up my right and ability to protect myself and my family.
The important thing to take away from this post is that your own research is necessary and so important to keep yourself on the right side of jail walls. The reason for traveling is to see wonderful sites and enjoy your time on the road. Simply ignoring the laws will result badly for you. Make good choices and train with your chosen firearms. laymenstactical.com. That is what will make the difference if you’re ever forced to use them in defense. Enjoy your travels and have fun. As always stay safe, train and have a good un’.
As Pam and I travel we keep the weapon handy, but locked and the gun ammo separate from the handgun per recommendations of Stephen. If needed, the gun could be quickly placed into service. If questioned we are abiding by the laws of most states. Diligence is needed when it comes to gun laws to keep up with things as they possibly change!
Thanks to Mr. Ingersoll for allowing me to post this helpful article on RV travel with firearms. Please visit for more information on education, instruction, and making the average gun owner more skilled with their firearm.
Blessings and Safe Travels,
Howard and Pam
Summer 2015: I recently visited with Stephen while we were passing through North Carolina. He recommended a fantastic handgun that I bought, and I found it easy to handle. His training skills are awesome! He was able to teach me quite quickly how to SAFELY handle the gun. I had never fired a weapon prior to that time but I found the process very enjoyable. If you are in the Raleigh area, reach out to him if you want to be “armed and fabulous!”
Fall 2016 Update: Pam and I were passing through North Carolina again and had a chance to visit with Stephen while at a local shooting range. I joined he and his Dad to hone our skills shooting at targets. Stephen was awesome in helping me to correct a few shooting issues that take me left and low of my intended target. Thanks Stephen!!
What do you do with your firearm if you cross the Border to Mexico?
At this point, we feel like we would never take our RV into Mexico so we have not investigated that option.
But, according to Mexico law:
It is illegal to enter Mexico with a firearm without a permit from the Secretariat of National Defense. Mexican customs agents do not issue gun permits; this permit must be processed before you attempt to cross the border with any type of firearm or ammunition. Anyone entering Mexico with a firearm or ammunition without a permit could face up to five years in prison.
I am new to RV Camping. I don’t like leaving my gun at home. There are a lot of campgrounds that say no firearms allowed. So. I have to either ignore their rules or don’t stay there. For now I want go out of North Carolina. When I arrive at my destination if they say no firearms . I either ignore it or go home.
Thanks for stopping by our website!
I don’t think any campground will have a problem if you keep your gun locked in an appropriate lockbox designed for weapons and the ammo kept in a separate location, even in another lockbox. Don’t go advertising that you have one, but obey the rules as if you were in a state that requests the same for travelers with weapons.
Nice post! I’m adding check gun laws by state to my to-do list. I was thinking a handgun and a shorter – LEGAL – shotgun would be the way to go. I was thinking the ability to fire a slug in the shotgun might be required in a remote area. Hopefully we would never have to use them.
Thanks for stopping by again Mark! Yes, the second amendment allows us to protect our lives and property. We just have to be sure to be aware of each state’s laws so we don’t get in trouble. Next time I am in North Carolina I’ll be visiting Mr. Ingersoll!
Thanks also for linking my site to yours. I appreciate your help in passing along information to folks that are also considering the full time RV lifestyle!