We are on the cusp of the summer camping season and in the midst of “spring break.” Snowbirds are roaming the American south from Florida to California.
What about personal defense? How does carrying a gun fit into your travel plans, especially if you are driving through multiple states? What about those camping in remote areas or pulling into national parks to experience the scenic grandeur of America?
Cue the screeching noise. These questions should make you stop in your tracks and get some good, solid information.
Knowledge Is Power
First up, you need to know the laws for every jurisdiction through which you will travel. Check out the USCCA’s reciprocity map and listing of state gun laws. This will tell you where your permit is good, if you need a permit or if you should take special precautions to ensure you don’t commit a felony just by crossing state lines. (Lookin’ your way Illinois and New Jersey.)
You might also want to know the rules surrounding carrying a gun in a national park or on other federal lands.
While there is not enough space in this column to provide you all the information for every state, I will take the time to remind you to think about your personal-protection plan when it comes to life on the road. Self-defense is just as important as any other aspect of planning your trip. If you are hiking or tent camping, what will you use to defend yourself, and how will you carry your defensive tools? Is your holster comfortable and accessible at all times? Is it legal to carry a gun where you are headed? Do you have a trauma kit?
If you are driving an RV or towing a camper, those same questions apply, as do a few others. Do you know all the access and egress points of your camping vehicle? Could you escape if you needed to or could an attacker trap you inside your vehicle?
Where will you store your gun? Keep in mind that storage is different than ready access. If you are more than three seconds away from your gun, you are effectively unarmed in the face of a sudden assault. To that end, look over your RV or camper and ask, “If someone came in while I was ____________, what would I do?” Think of as many ways as possible to finish that question. Include in each answer the location of your firearm at the time of the attack. If you are in the kitchen area and the gun is in the sleeping quarters, you have a problem.
It is very likely that the more you play “What if?” the clearer it will be to you that you should keep your gun on you at all times.
Yes, traveling with your firearm adds an extra layer of planning to your vacation. But don’t think for a minute that criminals do not strike tourists on the road. Knowledge of the laws, situational awareness and a suitable plan will go a long way toward keeping you and your loved ones safe on the road.