After recently spending 20 hours in a recreational vehicle, I thought a little bit about what it would be like to defend myself in a “hotel suite on wheels.”

In my opinion, a pistol would be the best option for personal defense in an RV. Still, the “best option” would not be a “perfect solution” because, frankly, fighting in an RV would suck. What makes it worse is the amount of RV-related crime that occurs in this country. Search the internet for crimes related to camping and campgrounds. It is disturbing.

Here is my take on defending yourself and your family in or near an RV: First, carry a pistol everywhere you can legally carry one. Notice I did not say, “Have a pistol with you.” I said, “Carry a pistol.” You will have no time to get to your gun if you are dealing with a violent person at a campsite. Your gun should only be locked in a portable gun safe when the law requires it. At all other times, your gun should be ON YOUR PERSON. If you are more than three seconds from getting your gun into action, you are effectively unarmed.

Let’s think about the average RV, motorhome or camper: The quarters are extremely close. There is very little room to maneuver inside one of these units. You are certainly not going to effectively swing some sort of impact weapon inside an RV. You might be able to thrust with something like a baton or baseball bat, but you will certainly not be able to get the most out of such weapons in extremely tight spaces. At contact distances, without the benefit of room to swing and without substantial training in the art of fighting with a stick, you run the very real risk of simply being overpowered. In such close quarters, the fight devolves to a contest of brute strength. Are you willing to bet your life you can win it?

Using a knife in such a situation is a little bit better, but only if you know what you are doing. Too many people default to stabbing during a self-defense incident when they should be thinking about slashing. It is easier to apply the sharp edge of a knife to a bad guy in close quarters than it is to hit that bad guy with a swing, but without proper training and a fair amount of strength, you could still end up in a grappling match. “It’s like a knife fight in an elevator” is never a good sentiment.

What about pepper spray? The danger of cross-contamination is very real.

Electronic control devices? They don’t always work.

Now you are left with your trusty sidearm. I think it is the best choice, but it is not without problems. First, let’s talk about the pros: A gun gives you more range. An RV is small, but you can still put a bullet into a bad guy before he gets his hands on you. Even if he is only 6 feet away, that means he is still 6 feet away. You can fire accurately from a solid retention position and, if your gun is equipped with a laser sight, you can fire accurately from compromised positions.

On the downside, nothing — and I mean nothing — in your RV is cover from incoming rounds. Everything, from the walls to the seat cushions to the cupboards, is made to be lightweight. It is all just concealment. There is no place to hide. Also, when traveling in an RV, you will likely be crossing several states and using state or national parks. What are the laws? What are the rules inside private campgrounds? This is very important information, and it is your duty as a responsibly armed citizen to know the laws.

Self-defense in an RV is a topic we at the USCCA will be discussing over the next couple of months. This topic covers everything from interstate travel to ammo selection and firearms access. Defending an RV can quickly become a legal, as well as a tactical, quagmire.

Let’s get the conversation started.


Related: USCCA Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws By State