Carrying A Firearm During Holiday Interstate Travel

During Holiday Interstate Travel

Are you doing during holiday interstate travel? Are you familiar with interstate driving rules and laws? Make sure you know your legal obligation when carrying a gun as you travel during the holidays.

During Holiday Interstate Travel: Be Familiar With CCW State Laws

Rules and Statutes

For some, carrying becomes such a natural part of their life that they may not think twice when interstate driving during the holidays. Carrying a firearm for personal protection is a choice.

Those who choose to carry knowingly subject themselves to interstate driving conditions and federal statutes, especially during the holidays.These statutes are necessary for they were written with the intention of protecting life.

During Holiday Interstate Travel

Cases have shown that emotion-driven gun owners can make reckless choices. Consequently, these statutes continue to evolve with our society.

As you apply for a Permit to Carry in your home state, you only become familiar with your state’s laws and statutes.

Holiday Road Trip

Here’s a common scenario across the United States every vacation season. A family goes out west to visit their family for the holidays. 

Knowing they will be traveling past remote and wild areas, Jeff decides to bring his handgun, 3 magazines, and defensive ammunition. Traveling from Pennsylvania to Montana, there are a wide variety of state lines to cross.

During Holiday Interstate Travel

At this point, gun owner Jeff has to settle with one of three choices:

  1. Keep the gun secured when he’s not carrying it, and conceal carry when appropriate. Jeff figures he doesn’t need to do anything besides follow his home state’s carry laws.
  2. Read up on each state he will go through and adjust accordingly.
  3. Decide that he doesn’t know enough about transporting firearms across state lines and does not bring a firearm.

The first one happens more often than anyone would like to admit, and evidence of that negligence is shown in the TSA’s annual weapons confiscation reports.

After personally interviewing TSA officers from across the country, most agents said that firearms are usually discovered because the owner forgot they had one of them.

What is TSA? TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is the government agency in the United States responsible for ensuring security in public travel.

The last two options play out if you consider doing the research as a responsible gun owner. However, even self-directed research can still leave too many questions about execution.

Traveling from a Reciprocal to a Non-Reciprocal State

If you do a search of your Permit to Carry reciprocity, you can get a snapshot of which states you can carry in.

Using that, the only question is, what should I do with my handgun or firearm when I travel during the holidays through a state where my permit does not have reciprocity?

Using online tools like this gives you an idea of where your permit has reciprocity. However, these free resources can be outdated, so it is important to confirm with the states you intend to go through.

Make sure you unload your firearm out of sight of any bystanders. Once your ammunition is back in its factory box and secured, lock your firearm in a hard-sided case in the back of your car during holiday travel.

Ammunition is always separate and the firearm is secured to a seat frame if it’s bolted to the frame or floorboards.

There are a wide variety of ways to lock your firearm in your car. The easiest and legal way to do so is with a cable lock through the magazine well or cylinder and stored in a permanent structure in your car.

Remember, nearly any police department should have gun locks on hand to give to the public for free if they ask. Project Childsafe has been a large part of that, and you can find one of their partners through this interactive map.

Keep Yourself More Informed


You have to be familiar with the local laws and statutes in the states you intend to carry in. Most of the time you only need to contact that state’s department of public safety or its equivalent. Here's an example of California State Laws. 

At the end of the day, you are the face of the gun owners’ community whenever you carry. Since most families travel during the holidays it is your job to understand the laws. Being an informed gun owner will empower and help our community, especially during the holidays.

Share your own experience in the comments below, we can always learn from other’s experiences.

Remember, none of this should be taken as legal advice. This is simply our professional recommendation as a firearms trainer and fellow gun owner. Given that flying isn’t for everyone, this is for gun owners traveling in private vehicles. That includes ATVs, motorcycles, cars, or even boats.

Public overland transportation like buses, ferries, and trains have additional regulations that you, as a paying passenger, have to follow. Again, this guide is specifically for gun owners traveling via private vehicles.

Have you tried carrying a firearm while interstate driving? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Disclaimer: All content on this site is for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 25, 2020, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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