Unfortunately, certain political factions within the United States wish to rent the Second Amendment and, in turn, the entire Constitution asunder. Just try to travel to all states in the Union while remaining legally armed, and you will be reminded of this. The good news is that if you have a carry permit issued by most states, then most other states will honor it (Concealed Carry Maps), but about eight or ten states refuse to submit to the ideals of individual liberty as outlined in our founding documents. Ironically, these tend to be the places most infested with violent crime as well, as criminals are emboldened when given the privilege to prey upon an unarmed populace.
The fact remains that, in several states at least, you cannot go armed with a handgun, even if you have an issued permit from your native state. Generally, these same restricted, freedom-free, criminal playground states also restrict so-called “assault weapons,” such as the AR15 in standard configuration, the single most popular and widespread firearm platform in the nation. So, what does one do if one believes in such notions as being able to defend oneself and one’s family from harm? The simple answer is, don’t go to such states. The more difficult answer is that sometimes, we must, and we need to make the best of it.
With the exception of certain outrageously restricted jurisdictions, such as New York City, there are some guns that can go almost anywhere else legally. Handguns are generally out for non-residents in such states, and auto-loading rifles are heavily restricted in what features they can have, as well as magazine capacity. Therefore, the easiest way to take a legal firearm when traveling to such destinations is to rely on a manually operated long gun. As outrageous as such laws are, that is the reality in all states where a particular political party has a supermajority. The right of individuals to defend themselves is restricted, while criminals roam uninterrupted by the laws in place to supposedly make the streets safer.
Therefore, what are the best choices if the only option is a manually operated long gun? The two most practical options for this author are pump-action shotguns and lever-action rifles. Both mechanisms are legal almost everywhere, and since both are manually operated, many of the asinine limitations on features are not in effect on such guns. Concerning which option to choose, it is simple: Do you prefer shotguns or rifles? A good pump shotgun or a good lever rifle are both very formidable. Bear in mind that, while traveling, the gun usually must be unloaded and cased in the trunk of the car. However, on arrival at the destination, the gun can be set up and secured somewhere for quick home defense access.
Features to Have or Avoid
When setting up a lever rifle or pump shotgun for such use, simple is good. Consider that the gun is likely to get cased and uncased rapidly when arriving and leaving the abode where you are staying. Therefore, many accessories on the gun can make it cumbersome for this role. For example, when I travel to such destinations, I bring a lever rifle chambered in 357 Magnum. I keep it unloaded for the trip, but on arrival, I load the gun to “cruiser ready” condition, which means the tube of the gun is loaded, but the chamber is empty. The gun then lives in a secured location, often still in the case, unzipped, for quick access when I am on the premises. If needed, the gun must be withdrawn quickly from a tight space. As such, accessories make it cumbersome and prone to snag.
Optics, lights, and slings can snag when accessing a long gun from tight quarters. As such, minimizing the accessories to only what is needed makes sense. If the gun is primarily for defense in a home or in the field where you are staying, don’t be afraid to rely on open sights, as close-distance defense hardly demands red dots or magnified optics. If you insist on an optic, use a small one, such as one of the many good micro red dots available. If using an optic, be sure to have fresh batteries in it before traveling, and use an optic with long battery life.
Concerning lights, I generally prefer a tail-cap light that falls under my support-hand thumb on a long gun, but for my go-anywhere rifle, I actually use a tiny handgun light mounted on a picatinny rail located on the bottom of the gun’s forend. This is not ideal for usability, but it keeps the gun slick, as a large light attached to the side of the gun can easily snag on things when the gun is withdrawn from a case, under a bed, or from behind a seat, etc., Regarding slings, many consider them optional for a house gun. If you will carry the gun in the field or woods, obviously, a sling is a must. Utilize a low-profile sling that can be set to hold tight to the gun, or use a sling tie of some kind to keep it bound to the gun so that it does not snag when you withdraw the gun from its location.
Loading and Unloading
Finally, a very important safety aspect of handling a go-anywhere gun is this: you must be very careful in the loading and unloading operation once on-premises. For this reason, a necessary feature for my go-anywhere criteria is to have a gun that can be made cruiser-ready without needing to chamber a round. Some shotguns allow for the loading and unloading of the tube without racking the slide action to unload each round. Similarly, I prefer lever guns that provide both side gate loading and tube loading in the same gun so that the tube can be loaded and unloaded without needing to work the action at all. This is an important consideration, as the most likely point of danger when handling the gun is in the loading and unloading when entering or exiting your vacation abode or elsewhere.
If you must run the action to unload the tube due to your gun’s design, then open the action and dump the round out before closing the action. This allows for the cycling out of the ammo in the tube without ever actually chambering a round and risking touching off a negligent discharge. If the gun has a manual safety, be sure that it is on for this entire process.
These are some ideas and concepts to consider should you need to travel to restricted destinations but wish to at least have a firearm in the home with you.