Having a passion for rifles more often than not comes with an affection for travel, the outdoors and exploration. It does for me, a proud owner of an AR-15 who lives in a city and hates in-doors shooting ranges here. Luckily, my likes and my dilemma come together to be solved by combining the two, and it might just be the case for you too. But even if not, you might just be moving from one state to another, or going on a long vacation. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips on how to travel with an AR-15.
Driving with an AR-15
If you’re going to travel with an AR-15, the first thing you need to understand is that gun laws and regulations differ from state to state. Yes, it’s stating the obvious, but it had to be gotten out of the way. Now, you might be wondering, is it even possible to cross several states without getting a permit for each, and reading through heaps of different regulations? The answer is a satisfying yes, but… If you’re allowed to carry your gun in your home state and the state you’re ultimately heading to; you can drive with your AR-15 throughout your journey legally. This is thanks to U.S. Code 926A.
Aside from the legal side of transportation, when travelling with your AR-15, you probably want to bring your cleaning and maintenance kit with you. You should always keep your gun in a designated spot in your car and have your license information backed up someone safe in case of theft or loss. Losing your luggage or even having your car stolen is always a possibility, and it’s essential that you report firearm theft to the local police and the ATF in such a case.
Things you should keep in mind:
- You must make sure your permit is valid at your destination. This page can help https://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html
- You must travel with your rifle and ammunition separated as a general rule.
- Some laws and regulations are federal and apply wherever you may be https://www.nraila.org/articles/20040324/citizen-s-guide-to-federal-firearms-law
- The ATF’s toll-free number for reporting gun loss: 1-888-930-9275
Flying with an AR-15
Flying with your AR-15 is possibly more straightforward than driving with it. Aside from packaging and having to disclose it at check-in, you won’t have to worry about different gun laws in the states you’re flying over.
The most important things you need to keep in mind are:
- As with driving your AR-15, you must make sure your permit is valid in the state you’re traveling to.
- Your rifle must never be loaded.
- You must disclose that you’re transporting a firearm to the airliner.
- It must be transported as checked baggage.
- The rifle must be stored in a hard-sided case with non-TSA locks. This includes magazines and clips. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition
It might sound counter-intuitive, but using TSA locks is illegal, as the locks must not be easily unlockable by anyone without a key. You’re also required to be the only one with the key or lock combination for your hard-sided container.
Now if you’re in an urban area like me, it’s always a good idea to be as calm and friendly as possible while disclosing you have a gun at check. Use the word firearm instead of ‘gun’ to avoid freaking out anyone who might be overhearing you. If you’re in a gun-friendly state, it’s almost certain you won’t get a reaction from anyone.
Some possible complications:
Some states don’t issue permits for non-residents and might not honor your firearm permit. In these cases, it’s just not possible to carry your AR-15 with you. I wouldn’t want to visit them anyway, personally. Some will require you to get a new permit, and in those cases, I’d personally advise you to call ahead to the concerned authorities in your final destination state and apply for a permit beforehand, even though a federal ruling found if you’re already a legal gun owner, you shouldn’t have to wait until a second background check is conducted to come into possession of a firearm. Some might argue over technicalities and whether this applies to getting a second permit for the same gun. Whatever the case, you obviously don’t want to get stuck in a cumbersome bureaucratic battle over it.