By Lars Dalseide | May 23 2014 14:46

Know what to pack, how to pack and what to leave behind on the road and in the air

The Road Safely Traveled on Memorial day from NRA Family Insights Jeff Johnston is intimately familiar with the potential pitfalls lying in wait when traveling with firearms. Here are a few of his tips before you hit the open road ...

The Road Safely Traveled
Planning on heading out this Memorial Day weekend? Here's what you need to know if you plan to bring a gun.

While on the road it’s your right to protect yourself and your family, but America’s patchwork of self-defense laws—and the road itself—isn’t often inviting. Here’s a primer on how you can travel as safely as possible.

Detailed planning is the best way to make the unpredictable less so. But we can’t plan for everything, and driving until you get tired and finding a hotel is a common—and often adventurous—reality. But it’s these times—times when we might blunder into a shady edge of town—when it’s most important to remain aware and vigilant. One effective way to remain vigilant is with a defensive firearm.

Trouble is, state and local laws on legal gun carry, transportation and possession vary like the characters in a Waffle House. So the first rule is, familiarize yourself with gun laws in the states and major jurisdictions through which you’ll pass. The best resource for this is NRA-ILA’s Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms. It should be read thoroughly before travel, as it is much more comprehensive than this basic primer.

Generally speaking, traveling with a firearm is best accomplished in conjunction with a concealed-carry permit recognized by the state(s) through which you intend to travel. While you can drive with a gun without such a permit, in most states it is illegal to keep a gun loaded and accessible without one. If your gun isn’t accessible, it’s virtually worthless for self-defense.

If you travel with your self-defense gun in the trunk, locked and unloaded, and never take it in with you on stops, then it’s merely a good-luck charm to make you feel safer, which may actually be giving you a false—and potentially dangerous—sense of security. Nefarious highwaymen rarely stop at your time-out signal so you can fetch your arm at your leisure. If you travel with a gun, you should carry it in high-risk places such as quick stops, roadside restaurants, rest areas and the like, where legal.

To get a tiny idea of how complicated interstate travel laws are, let’s use one simple example of a Virginian who wishes to travel less than 75 miles to Gettysburg, Pa. He has a Virginia concealed-carry permit, so he starts the trip out with his firearm loaded, in the console. Before crossing into Maryland where his permit is not recognized, he must stop, unload the firearm, place it in a hard case, lock it and store it in the trunk or somewhere far enough from the driver’s seat that it’s rendered “inaccessible.”

Read the rest of Jeff's advice on safe travel tips this weekend on NRA Family Insights website.


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