State-to-State: How to Legally Transport Your Guns
Here's the good news: You're allowed to travel with your guns thanks to...
US Code 926A: Safe Travels With Your Firearms
This is a law that guarantees your right to move your weapons, unloaded, across state lines, provided... that they are under lock and key, away from the driver. Glove compartment and console don't count, by the way. It has to be out of the driver's reach, in a separate compartment. This is a law worth memorizing, as you might need to cite it should a rookie law enforcement officer want to search your things.
If you have a car with a trunk, great, problem solved. Assuming that the trunk can't be reached from the car's cabin, you're in the clear. The wording of the law specifies a "locked container" in instances where the trunk is not separate from the cabin, so investing in a lockbox and keeping it out of reach of the driver's seat should satisfy the letter of the law.
You might carry a CCW permit in your state, but don't expect it to hold up elsewhere. Every state has their own laws and regulations, their own licensing bodies, and unless you're moving through a state that legally allows all citizens to carry firearms, you're going to want to leave your firearms in the lockbox or the trunk when you stop for a bite to eat or at a gas station.
Now you might want to skip all of that and just mail your guns to yourself. That's going to be a little more complicated.
Legally Shipping Your Guns
Licensed dealers have a greater range of freedom in sending guns by mail. For the rest of us, you are allowed to ship guns to yourself. There are a few ways to do this:
- Mail it to yourself. Whoever you're staying with for your hunting trip two states away, they're not even allowed to hold the package. Ship it to yourself "in care of" your faraway friend, and be there to receive it or pick it up when it arrives.
- You can ship a long gun like a hunting rifle directly to a friend out of state. To ship a handgun, you'll need a dealer's license.
- You can ship your firearm to someone who holds an FFL, or dealer's license, and have them hold it for you. This is one reason why it's always a good idea to get to know your local dealers. You never know when you'll need to call in a favor.
Although learning all the individual gun laws from state to state can be a pain, fortunately, getting your firearms across the country isn't so complicated. As long as you travel safe or know who you're shipping to, you should be fine.