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It’s Legal to Carry My Gun Across the Country… Right?

The following is a video transcript.

School’s out, the sun is shining, and you’ve got several days of vacation lined up. It’s time for a trip. But before you pack your pistol and leave your Second Amendment sanctuary state, join us as we discuss some common misconceptions about traveling with firearms.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see nationwide reciprocity passing into law anytime soon. This means that all law-abiding gun owners should be aware of the laws in every state they intend on traveling through—even if it means choosing a different vacation destination. Here are four common misconceptions or mistakes to avoid when traveling with a gun.

Mistake #1: Assuming your license or permit is recognized in the other 49 states

The first mistake is assuming one state’s license or permit to carry a weapon will be recognized and honored in the other 49 states. This simply is not true and can land you in jail if you’re stopped by law enforcement in the wrong place with the wrong weapon.

Mistake #2: Assuming your handgun is legal throughout the United States

The second misconception folks have is that, because their handgun is legal in their state, it must be legal throughout the entire United States. Again, every state has different laws regarding firearms, ammunition types, and even magazine sizes. If your handgun isn’t legal in the state you’re visiting and you’re stopped by law enforcement, you may be arrested.

Mistake #3: Assuming State Laws Don’t Vary

Sometimes people think, “I live in the great State of (X), and if I keep following their laws, I’m in good shape when visiting state (Y).” This is false. If you’re visiting another state, you’re subject to their laws and their prison sentences.

Mistake #4: Thinking The Federal Safe Passage Act will prevent an arrest

The final misconception is that the Federal Safe Passage Act will prevent an arrest if you’re caught in an anti-2A state.

Let’s take a look at 18 U.S.C. § 926A, where this important law is located. The statute reads:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose, from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, that in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.”

Put simply, if you’re traveling through a 2A-hostile state without stopping, and you’re legally allowed to possess your firearm in your home state and in your destination state, and you pack your unloaded firearm and ammunition in a locked hard-sided container in your trunk, you’ll have the Federal Safe Passage Act as a defense available to you.

It’s important to note that this is a defense raised in court after your arrest. A police officer in an unfriendly state may simply not allow you to carry on to your destination if you’re stopped with an illegal weapon in their territory.

Research the laws of the states you’re traveling to

That’s why we recommend the best practice when traveling to other states: do your homework. Research the laws of each state you plan on visiting before you leave home. You don’t want to leave on vacation and come back on probation.

For any reciprocity or state law carrying questions, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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