4 Tips For Road Trips And Travel With Your Concealed Carry Firearm


For those looking forward to a nice long summer, it’s always an added bonus to be able to travel with the safety and security of a concealed carry firearm. But before you pack the Glock with the suntan lotion, here’s a few tips to help stay on the right side of the law no matter your final destination.

1.  Know Your Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Despite efforts to pass national reciprocity laws allowing concealed carriers to move across state lines with ease, we’re still stuck in an antiquated system of in-state versus out of state distinctions.  A quick reference tool to see what states presently accept your concealed carry permit, check here.

NOTE:  The aforementioned link should only be used as a quick reference tool because legislation is changing all the time.  To ensure you remain in compliance, the only sure-fire way is to check with the state itself.


For states that do not recognize your right to carry concealed, they may have open carry policies which allow some more freedom of movement.  At present counting, there are thirty states (and hopefully more to follow) which do not require a permit to open carry.  Here’s another quick reference for that.

2.  Specific State Gun Restrictions

California is a case example of not only a state that doesn’t issue concealed carry permits to out-of-state residents but also one that heavily restricts the style and class of guns that can be used.

“High Capacity” Magazine Restrictions

State Max Rounds Notes
California >10 Does not ban possession
District of Columbia >10 Does ban possession.
Hawaii >10 Does ban possession
Maryland >20 Does not ban possession
Massachusetts 10+ Does ban possession
New Jersey 15+ Does ban possession
New York >10 Does ban possession
NOTE:  This reference is based upon data published and reported through the State of Connecticut’s inquiry into Federal and State high-capacity magazines.  The full report is available here.

The good news on this above list is that if you plan on travelling through those states, the Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986 protects you so long as you only stop for brief periods (i.e. a quick meal, gas, a bathroom break, etc.).  In order for this federal law to fully protect you, however, it’s probably a best practice to:

  • Ensure all firearms are unloaded
  • Lock up all firearms in a secure compartment
    • Make sure that secure compartment can’t fall into the vague definition of “easily accessible”.  It’s very foggy and it’s something that can be used against a concealed carrier, unfortunately.

3.  Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 Can Be Your Best Friend

There’s a few common questions that arise naturally when we’re told we can pass through a state but can’t stop.  We’ll take one that came up real recently in discussion.

I’m driving from Utah to Oregon and I have to pass through California.  It’s a big state and I need to pull over and take a nap.  Will I get pinched for having magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition?

This is possibly one of the hardest ones to answer.  Undoubtedly, something as dubious as being in possession with a magazine that a specific state defines as “high capacity” has probably been used against someone for less than legitimate reasons.  The only person that can accurately answer this question is an attorney who specializes in firearms-related cases.

Obviously, the threat of sleeping at the wheel outweighs the threat of (in this example) California State Troopers making a big problem about transporting high capacity magazines in a secure compartment of your vehicle.

Rule 1:  Don’t give probable cause where there isn’t.  A police officer cannot legally search your vehicle without a warrant, your consent, or due probable cause.  That last one can often be the turning point in a case.  If you do stop to rest, do not grant any reason to give any of the above.

Rule 2:  Strictly limit time outside the vehicle.  The longer you’re away from your vehicle in a state that prohibits the transportation of something you are transporting, the Firearm Owners Protection Act quickly loses ground.  Stopping in a motel for the night and heading out in the morning?  Probably fine.  Stopping in at Aunt Sue’s house for a long weekend?  That’s treading on thin ice.

Rule 3:  If you can’t wear it legally, keep it locked up.  While it’s natural to check to ensure that firearms and ammunition are in their allotted space, at no time is it alright to take out or handle these weapons.  FOPA of 1986 only protects gun owners just so far.

4.  Travelling By Bus, Train or Plane?  Check Your CCW

There are a lot of great provisions allowed for the transportation of firearms across the United States provided they’re checked in as luggage via either the TSA (for airplanes) or Amtrak’s baggage service (if by train).

For those looking to board buses and metro lines, however, additional restrictions apply.  For instance, MARTA (Atlanta, GA) does not allow the transportation of firearms.  Getting out of the airport at Hartfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the major routes out of there is via the local MARTA terminal and bus service.  If Atlanta is your final destination, you may want to consider alternate modes of transportation such as taxi or a rental car.

Chartered buses, such as Greyhound, have specific limitations on transporting firearms.  Many do allowed booked transport.  Make sure to check with them and if you have any transfers, ensure you’re good to safely transport those firearms from bus to bus.

Do you have any insight into travelling about with a concealed carry firearm?  Tell us about it in the comments section below.

About the Author

GH is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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