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Firearms in an RV: What You NEED to Know

| Updated Oct 20, 2023

If you're traveling with firearms in an RV, here are the basics you need to know…

Let's begin by clarifying that this article is not about whether or not you should travel with firearms. This article is only about what you need to know if you choose to travel with firearms in your RV.

We promise there is no political message. There is only information based on laws and regulations that we have researched. We must also say that our research isn't infallible, and laws and regulations can change anytime.

So, you should always verify the following information before crossing state lines or into unfamiliar territory with a firearm. Laws and regulations specific to you, your firearms, and your location must be adhered to, and safety should always be the number one priority when traveling with a firearm.

That being said, we hope this article helps those who wish to travel with a firearm to do so in a legal, safe manner.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Can I Travel to Another State with Firearms?

Firearms in an RV: What You NEED to Know

The general answer is yes, you can travel to another state with firearms. However, there are limitations to how, and it varies from state to state. Some states will reciprocate your home state's gun laws, other states have additional requirements, some states will allow you to drive through but not stop beyond what's necessary, and so on.

You must do your due diligence for every state you are going to travel in and through. You can't claim ignorance to get out of jail time or a hefty fine if you didn't do your research of local gun laws.

Reading this article doesn't count as your due diligence because we can't go into state specifics. However, it will help get you started by understanding the basics.

Same Laws as Vehicles

First, you must know that RVs are classified as vehicles, not residences, even if you live in them full-time. As such, they fall under vehicle laws for firearms. So, when researching local state laws, you must look specifically for traveling with or having firearms in a vehicle.

“The Peaceable Journey Law”

Firearms in an RV: What You NEED to Know 1

The Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA), also known as “The Peaceable Journey Law” was passed in 1986. FOPA allows a person who can lawfully carry (whether by permit, constitutional carry, etc.) in their state of origin as well as their destination to transport a firearm through states in which he or she does not hold a valid permit.

In short, that means an RVer can drive with a properly stored firearm through a state where they do not meet local firearm requirements if they do meet the requirements of their home state and their destination. However, different states have different definitions of “through” where some mean you cannot stop while others will allow you to make short stops, such as for fuel and food.

Note that this act does not permit you to use your firearm in these drive-through states (even in defense) without potential consequences. This act only allows you to transport it through states.

You must also store the firearm unloaded and contained in a locked box or out of the driver's reach, unless state law allows otherwise. In general, the firearm should not be within reach or easily accessible, and the same is true and/or recommended for ammunition.

Driving Through vs. Staying Overnight

Note once more that states have different definitions of what qualifies as “driving through.” If you do not meet a state's local gun requirements (i.e., not proper permitting), then you must follow that state's definition of driving through, which may mean not stopping at all.

In some states, short stops are tolerated but again, the type of ‘short stops' depends on the state. You must know what is allowed before crossing into the state.

What If You're Not Driving Through?

If you are not driving through, you must meet local gun permitting requirements to legally travel with a firearm within that state. You may be able to meet these requirements with an additional permit or by following additional procedures— it depends on the state.

Travelers Guide to the Firearm of the Fifty States

One of the best resources for traveling with firearms is the annual Traveler's Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States. We highly recommend it for any RVers traveling with a firearm.

Firearm Reciprocity Laws

In addition to FOPA, you need to understand Fiream Reciprocity Laws. Many states reciprocate other states' firearm laws. Reciprocity allows gun owners in one state to have full legal rights to carry and use their firearm in another state, and vice versa.

Of course, which states reciprocate can't be easily listed since different states reciprocate different states. So, you have to cross-reference which states reciprocate your state. The only simple list we can give is the states that do not offer any reciprocity.

States with No Reciprocity

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersy
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

In these states, it is illegal to bring a weapon across their borders, and even use a weapon for self-defense, unless you have satisfied all legal requirements in that state.

Concealed Carry

Many RVers who travel with firearms have concealed carry permits, which legally allows them to carry firearms on their person and to more locations under very strict regulations. If RVers plan to travel with a firearm for self-defense, it is recommended that they look into getting a concealed carry permit.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws by State

The USCCA website has an excellent resource for concealed carriers. You can check your concealed carry permit(s) reciprocity and learn about every state's concealed carry and gun laws by clicking on their interactive map.

Their website is also full of helpful information and resources concerning carrying and traveling with firearms.

Will You Be Stopped at California's State Line?

If you're entering California, your RV may be searched by border protection officers. However, these officers only look for agricultural contaminants that could devastate the state's farming industry.

That being said, remember that California is a non-reciprocity state, and you must meet all local requirements to bring a firearm into the state. Before crossing the state line, make sure your firearms are properly stowed.

To learn more about crossing California state lines and what to expect, keep reading…

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Plan Your Next Adventure to Coastal Maine

By popular demand, we announce the publication of the latest in our library of RV travel guides – a 7-Day Adventure Guide to Coastal Maine.

Firearms in an RV: What You NEED to Know 3

With its dramatic rocky coastline, enchanting fishing towns, and windswept sandy beaches, Coastal Maine is a destination that should be on every RVers’ bucket list. 

We call these guides “7 days,” but they really are seven stops. They’re meant to be experienced at your own pace, a couple of days at one stop, a week at another, however long you want.

We have carefully curated this 66-page digital guide (not a printed book) so you can take in all Coastal Maine has to offer. We give you the routes to drive, the spot to stop, the places to eat, and the museums, excursions, hikes and adventures we think you will enjoy the most.

For an RVer, Coastal Maine has it all: stunning landscapes, short drives between stops, spacious campsites, that perfect small city and nature mixed with a seemingly endless variety of things to see and explore.

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Last update on 2024-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-10-20

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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