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Can You Carry A Gun Across State Lines? 3 Things Every Gun Owner Needs to Know

2022-03-16T08:01:26-05:00February 18th, 2022|5 Comments

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Gun Laws

Whether you have a concealed carry license or not, if you will be traveling cross-country with your firearms while on vacation this year, particularly through states that may not be as “firearms or gun friendly” as your home state, you’ll be happy to know that the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act, or FOPA, allows you to legally transport your firearms or guns in your vehicle while you drive, so long as you comply with a short list of requirements found in what is known as the “Safe Passage” provision, or 18 U.S.C. § 926A.

See also: Can You Check a Gun on a Plane?

There Are Three Conditions You Must Meet When Crossing State Lines Your Firearms:

    1. The first condition is that any firearms or guns you are transporting must be unloaded and locked in the trunk of the vehicle or in another container that is out of reach or not immediately accessible. Any ammunition must also be locked in the trunk or another container. This does not include the glove box or center console!
    2. Second, your journey must begin and end in states where your possession of the firearms is legal. So, for example, if you begin your journey in your home state of Texas and are looking to drive to Grandma’s house in Kansas, where permitless concealed carry is legal, you will be protected as long as you meet the other two conditions. However, if you begin your journey in Texas and are driving to New Jersey for vacation, where a state-issued license is required to even own a firearm, you will not be protected under the Safe Passage provision.
    3. Lastly, you must be “traveling.” This applies especially while going through a firearms-hostile state. Unfortunately, the term “traveling” is not defined in federal law. Courts have interpreted it narrowly to indicate that a person must not stop in one place for “too long.” Unfortunately, how long is “too long” is not entirely clear. In an actual case decided in 2013, a man was convicted for illegal possession of his shotguns and rifles secured in zippered cases, after he stopped for a brief nap in New Jersey while moving from Maine to Texas. The best course of action is to get through firearms-hostile states as quickly as possible.

Safe Passage Protection May Not Always Prevent an Arrest!

A word of warning: even if you qualify for Safe Passage protection, some states, such as New York and New Jersey, treat Safe Passage protection as a mere affirmative defense instead of a protection from arrest and prosecution, meaning that police in these states may still arrest you if you are pulled over with firearms in your vehicle, despite meeting all of the conditions of the federal statute. To beat potential charges of illegal possession of firearms and/or assault weapons, you would then need to assert your Safe Passage protection as a defense in court. This could involve substantial court costs and inconvenience, not to mention putting a halt to your vacation plans.

Looking for a quick traveling with your firearm plan for your next trip? Download our free travel guide

The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.


  1. Larry Sciglimpaglia 04/14/2022 at 9:18 am - Reply

    This is a question comment.
    There is no information in regard to long gun vs handgun. Most all of the articles that I come across reference handguns specifically,that or there is no mention of long guns. Is that because there is no difference in the eyes of certain state laws?
    I know that handgun restrictions are different from state to state. I am looking to transport 2 long guns. I’m moving from a firearm friendly state to a firearm unfriendly state. Neither of my long guns are illegal to own in any state. In other words they aren’t Black Rifles and neither of them have the features that make them an (assault rifle or SBR) no magazines over 10 rounds,no pistol grip,no threaded barrel,magazines locked in a separate container,ammo locked in a separate container etc. If all items are locked and stored in the cargo area of my vehicle am I legal?

    • mhoule 04/20/2022 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      This is a great question. If you’re a member, please call our non-emergency line to get an answer from an independent program attorney at 877-448-6839.

  2. Mike Downs 06/09/2022 at 7:38 am - Reply

    So constitutional law is not law in NY and New Jersey, so the 2nd Amendment does not apply?

  3. Karen Robbins 07/11/2022 at 10:18 am - Reply

    My family will be driving from Texas to California for our sons graduation from Marine Boot Camp. My husband and I both have our LTC in Texas. We would like to take a handgun with us on our trip for personal safety. I have read that the gun and ammunition have to be stored safely and in a secured locked box. We will be staying the night in Arizona during our drive. I am concerned about getting into trouble if we get pulled over or have an accident (hopefully not) especially in states that do not recognize our LTC from Texas. If possible please give any advice or information on these concerns.

  4. Blanca 07/16/2022 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    I’m going to travel back to California from Arizona, can I take my firearm in my car unloaded and in separate storage places in my car?

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