Carrying concealed on the road certainly has its advantages. The ability to protect yourself while in a vehicle is important. In this article, we’ll discuss a few basic rules that will keep you safe and on the right side of the law.
Rule 1: Don’t attempt to deal with bad drivers
Recently, we saw a really sad situation develop in Fort Lauderdale where a man attempted to pull over a driver who had swerved into his lane. The offending driver, in this case, was a concealed carrier and obviously felt threatened when he saw someone pursuing him. He pulled over and when the irate man exited his vehicle to confront him, the pursuer was shot and killed.
This is a completely avoidable situation. While tensions run understandably high when you avoid a near-death experience on the road, it is not your job to take the law into your own hands.
- Record the license plate number
- Save any available dashcam or cell phone video
- Record the time, date, and location of the event
- Forward all that information to the police
The police, if given proper evidence, will pursue the matter to the fullest extent of the law. You have a right to live but you don’t have the right to chase down a distracted driver. The life you save may very well be your own.
Read Also: Guns and Road Rage
Rule 2: Know your state-to-state reciprocity
Not all states acknowledge each other’s permitting process for concealed carry permits. Some states, like Washington, will allow you to carry openly even if they do not acknowledge your right to carry concealed. When you’re on the road, you need to know which states acknowledge your right to carry concealed (or openly) and work within those limits. Especially in states like New Jersey or New York, not having the proper state-issued permit can result in very serious charges if you’re caught. For reciprocity info, check out the Concealed Carry Permit Reciprocity Maps here.
Rule 3: Parked overnight in a rest stop? Keep your handgun on you at all times
When your eyelids start to droop, it’s time to call it a night. Pulling into a highway rest stop is sometimes a great way to catch a quick nap, stretch, use the rest room, and get back out on the road. While napping, make sure to keep your pistol holstered on your body. This prevents someone from breaking in to your car while you’re sleeping and taking your gun from you.
Rule 4: Know your Duty To Inform
Some states require you to identify the presence of a concealed handgun to a police officer during a traffic stop. Other states, like Georgia, have no specific requirement. It’s up to you to know the rules. In most cases, where you know you have reciprocity for carrying concealed, it’s generally a good idea to inform the police officer. He or she will then usually ask the location of the handgun and potentially ask to see your permit. If you are armed, make sure to keep your hands visible at all times and follow the direction of the officer to ensure both yours and his safety.
Rule 5: Magazine restrictions and ZERO reciprocity situations
If you are traveling through a state that does NOT acknowledge your right to carry concealed, it’s best for you to stop in a place PRIOR to that state and disarm. You are legally allowed to drive through a state with a gun so long as it is unloaded and not accessible. The easiest way to define that is by simply putting it in a locked gun case with the magazine ejected and no round in the chamber.
Some states have magazine restrictions — Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland being amongst them. If your gun is locked up in a gun case in the trunk and unloaded, the police will have a real tough time pressing any charges against you.
Special note: You are protected by FOPA (Firearm Owners Protection Act) so long as you are moving directly across the state and not stopping for anything other than gas. If you stop to rest or even pick up food, your situation becomes increasingly more hairy in the eyes of that state’s law. Some states like New York may even go out of their way to make your life harder. Keep it easy for yourself and plan your trip accordingly so you spend as little time moving through that state as possible.
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