Have Gun, Will Travel? 3 Legal Concerns

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on December 14, 2012 | Last updated on May 24, 2019

Holiday travel is complicated enough, but if you're a gun owner and plan to bring your firearm with you when you go home for the holidays, it gets even more complex.

Guns are largely a matter of state regulation. That means you need to know the gun laws in your own state, and also the laws in any states you plan to travel to (or through) with your firearms. You also need to make sure your method of transportation allows guns.

It doesn't mean you can't take firearms with you, but it does require extra preparation. If you're traveling with your guns this holiday, here are three legal issues to keep in mind:

  1. Do you have a permit? Even if you're just traveling in-state, many states require gun owners to have specific permits. If you're taking the gun somewhere in your car, you may have to deal with laws about how guns can be transported. Check out your state laws on how guns should be secured in a car so you don't get pulled over or even arrested.

  2. Can you bring it with you? Not all modes of transportation permit guns, so check before you buy a ticket. Buses like Greyhound generally don't allow guns, even in checked baggage. Amtrak allows guns only if you book at least 24 hours beforehand and meet other requirements. And airplanes require all firearms to be checked rather than carried on. Don't be caught unaware and have to cancel your plans or be forced to leave your gun behind.

  3. Does your license have reciprocity? You may think you have the right permits and a proper mode of transportation picked out, but that still doesn't mean you can bring your gun into any state that you want. Your license to carry a gun and a concealed carry permit, if you have one, are issued by your home state. You either need to get a second license or find a state that has reciprocity with yours so your license will still be valid. Figure this out well in advance of your trip, so you can apply for a new license if necessary or make alternate arrangements.

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