Can You Travel With Firearms In Your RV?
Are you at risk of fines or jail time when RVing with firearms? Guns can be a tricky topic; however, it’s essential to talk about so you are informed on the safety and laws of traveling with firearms in a camper.
People have mixed opinions about guns and who and where they should be allowed. We are not going to debate these topics. Instead, let’s discuss RVing with firearms for those who choose to do so.
Firearm ownership and transport come with laws and regulations to ensure the safety of the owners and the general public. For RVers and the context of this article, we will be looking at transport within an RV. Traveling by air with firearms has its own set of laws and regulations we won’t be discussing.
Due to the legal obligations and seriousness of firearm ownership, it must be noted that laws and regulations specific to you, your firearms, and your location must be adhered to. Priority number one for anyone legally traveling with a firearm should be training, certification, and competency in handling and using their firearms.
Why carry firearms in your RV?
In short, anyone who can legally do so and chooses to do so can RV travel with firearms. In this community, it is not a widely discussed topic; however, RVers do carry firearms for multiple reasons. As with homeowners who keep a firearm in their home for protection, some RVers feel more comfortable having a firearm in their motorhome or trailer. Reasons include:
- RVers often move around from location to location and may feel safer in unfamiliar places as well as in remote locations.
- Solo RVers in particular may choose to travel with firearms for this reason.
- RVing and the outdoors go hand in hand. It’s no surprise many RVers are also hunters and general outdoor enthusiasts. Heading out for a hunting trip or weekend of backwoods hiking is another common scenario in which someone would pack firearms in their RV.
As we will talk about next, the reasons people are traveling with their firearm is not as important as how they go about doing so.
Can I travel to another state with firearms?
Traveling with firearms in an RV falls under the same laws and regulations as with other vehicles. There are no special rules specifically for RVs, and as with many laws, there are differences from state to state.
You need to be aware of the laws in your state as well as any states you plan to travel through. If you travel through multiple states regularly or have a big road trip planned, there are guides available. Review the Travelers Guide To The Firearm Laws Of The Fifty States to learn about each state’s gun laws.
The Firearms Owners Protection Act is something firearms owners should also be familiar with. The FOPA, as it is commonly referred to, is federally regulated and allows persons who are legally allowed to possess that firearm and are licensed in their home state to travel through other states that recognize their state’s gun ownership regulations.
There are some states that do not recognize other states’ regulations and have more restrictive laws. In these cases, you may still be able to transport the firearms but under more strict laws and additional requirements.
Federal firearms laws vs state firearms laws
There are many laws and regulations for firearms owners to know. To make things even trickier, there are federal laws that encompass the entire United States as well as state laws that vary from state to state.
We can’t dissect all these laws here. Just know that as a firearms owner, you are responsible to know the laws that apply to you. A particular firearm that you legally possess in your state and federally are allowed to own may be restricted in certain states regardless of what another law says. The same goes for concealed carry laws. They vary from state to state, and you must comply with state-specific gun laws while traveling.
Firearms laws are serious business, as they should be. You don’t want to be caught in a position where you could face fines or even jail time. The ATF website has a list of federal laws. It also has the laws of each state that you can view before carrying firearms in your RV.
Tips for traveling with firearms in an RV
There are two things that really matter when it comes to traveling with firearms in your RV.
- You have to carry firearms safely.
- And you have to do it legally.
There are some things that are not up to you to decide. For example, you can’t decide how the firearm is stored or what gun documents you need to carry.
There are some things, however, that are good practices you can do to have trouble-free travel. For firearms owners, these will be common practice and common sense. If you own a firearm but haven’t traveled with it or are just thinking about purchasing one, think about the following before traveling with firearms.
- Keep your documents together and easy to access.
- Be open and transparent.
- Have a checklist to look at prior to travel so you have everything and are not in breach of any laws.
Where to store your guns (in the RV or tow vehicle?)
When traveling with a towable RV like a fifth wheel or travel trailer, storage of firearms is best in the tow vehicle. Your tow vehicle, in most cases, will be more secure than your RV. Cheap locks, many windows, and a lack of alarms make RVs an easy target for theft.
If you plan on leaving the country and driving between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, this open ups a much larger array of laws and requirements. Mexico has strict laws about bringing firearms into the country and for the most part is a no-go.
For American citizens, traveling to Canada with firearms is more common and can be done. There are, of course, laws and regulations to follow. If you plan on crossing the Canadian border in an RV, you should preplan your trip. Be prepared for the Canadian border crossing and dealing with Canadian firearms law enforcement during your trip.
Get tips from other RVers
If you are thinking about traveling with firearms while RVing, talk to other RVers who do so. Reaching out to instructors at firearms training centers is also helpful to learn about safe gun transportation practices.
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.