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Laws for Traveling With a Gun in Your Car

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Driving With a Loaded Gun? Watch Out for These Three Concealed Carry Legal Traps

Warning! The following story is for informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to provide, legal advice. The reader should consult with an appropriate professional regarding their individual situation. Any use of the information contained in this article shall be solely at the reader’s risk.

Concealed carry laws can very quickly make criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It can be difficult enough to understand the rules in your home state. To make things worse, once you think you understand those rules, plan on them changing when you travel. In fact, everything can change when you travel — including the most basic definitions of simple words you think you understand.


For every state in which you wish to carry a firearm, you must know what it means for a firearm to be “concealed,” “open,” or “loaded.” You also need to know the definitions of “vehicle,” “residence,” and “public place.” Understanding these words is often the key to understanding whether you’re committing a crime.

For example, in some places, a firearm is “loaded” only if there is a loaded magazine inserted in the firearm or a round in the chamber. In other states, a firearm is loaded if a loaded magazine is simply near the otherwise empty gun.

Traveling with your firearm is tricky business, and penalties for violating these tricky laws can be severe. Below are a few “traps” for gun owners who carry while traveling in a vehicle, along with a few pointers on how to steer clear of committing a crime.

Trap #1: The RV – Residence or Vehicle?
Many Americans think of their RV as their home when they’re traveling in it, especially for a long period of time. In fact, some people give up their “real” home to travel the country for years in an RV.

Under the concealed carry laws, your RV isn’t necessarily your home. It’s usually considered a vehicle. Why is this important? Because different rules apply, depending on whether you have a firearm in your “vehicle” versus a “residence.” For example, you can have a firearm in your home, loaded and concealed. The same is not true for a vehicle.


Whether your RV is a home or a vehicle often depends on how the RV is being used. It also depends on which laws are in play for a given situation (for example, a castle doctrine or carrying a concealed firearm). If you’re living in an RV park for a month, some state laws may consider the RV your residence and allow you the privilege of concealing a loaded handgun and even being protected under a castle doctrine if you use deadly force against an intruder.

In contrast, while you’re driving your RV down the highway, most state laws call your RV a vehicle, and your firearm may have to be unloaded and stored in a locked container separate from your ammunition.

If your RV is a vehicle, you need to know what the laws are for transporting a firearm in a vehicle in the state you’re in. If you do not know, the safest thing to do, legally, is to unload the firearm, separate the ammunition from your firearm, lock the unloaded handgun in a locked container, and put the ammunition in a separate locked container.

If you’re wondering what constitutes a “locked container,” that answer also depends on which state’s laws will apply. Some states, such as Oregon, consider your locked glovebox a “locked container,” so long as the key isn’t in the glovebox and so long as your vehicle doesn’t have a locked container available outside of the passenger compartment (such as a trunk).

For the rest of this article, purchase a copy of this issue at: Concealment 5

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