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Carry On

How to Pack Firearms for a Family Vacation

by James Tarr   |  September 26th, 2012 14

The-beachOver the last few years, I have taken a number of vacations with my wife and kids, or just my boys. I normally carry a gun every day, and that’s something I have to take into consideration when getting ready to travel.

People carry guns “just in case,” but bad things don’t always happen at home. I and a lot of people I know carry guns while on trips, but before you decide if and/or what to bring/carry while on vacation, there are a lot of things to think about. All of those things, however, can be covered by looking at two simple questions:

1. Where are you going?
2. What are you doing?

If you plan to travel to a state or country where transportation or carrying of firearms isn’t allowed, there’s not a whole lot to think about. However, what if you’re traveling through a restrictive area (i.e. Chicago) en route to your final destination? Knowing what the laws are of the states/big cities you pass through is something you need to do.

Also, if you are legally carrying a gun and get pulled over for a traffic violation in a different state, do you know what the state regulations are for declaring that gun to the officer? You should. You should also know local regulations regarding carrying guns in establishments serving alcohol, or in large venues seating in excess of any given number of people.

Carrying a gun on vacation may require you to make some hard decisions. For example, as far as I’m concerned, Disney World would make a very attractive target for an active shooter or a terrorist. As near as I can determine, there is no prohibition in Florida law for someone with a CCW to carry in Disney World. However, Disney is very anti-gun and does not allow concealed carry in their parks, and they do search the bags of people entering the parks, so carrying a gun into Disney World to protect yourself or your family is not against the law, but if spotted, you may be ejected (and those park passes cost a lot of money). Life is full of decisions, some of which are easier than others.

What you plan on doing on your vacation can also affect not just if you can carry, but what. I know someone who was recently at a Six Flags-type amusement part with their kids, and they had to trade in their full-size gun for a small pocket gun because they decided big belt guns and high-speed roller coasters that turn upside down are a bad combination.

Are you going to be spending the majority of your time around a pool or on a beach? If you want to have a gun with you, where are you going to put it when you’re in the water? These are questions you need to think about before you leave the house.

Taking a cruise? Check the regulations of the cruise line.  Even if your boat doesn’t travel to a foreign country, chances are they won’t allow you to bring along a gun. In this post-9/11 world, there’s a good chance both you and your luggage will go through TSA-type screening before you’re allowed on board.

Most vacations involve some sort of hotel stay. If you have your car or a rental car, I would highly recommend not leaving anything of value, including a gun, in that car or in your hotel room when you are not in it.  Guns, computers and other valuables are always with me when I travel, not left in the hotel room during the day or in the car at night. I know too many people whose cars have been broken into while on vacation, and I know someone who had their Kindle stolen from their hotel room by the maid not two weeks ago. Luckily, the Kindle was recovered, but what if he’d left a gun in the room?

Deciding to carry a gun is never a decision to take lightly, and you should always try to plan for the situations you’ll find yourself in, even if that situation is a family vacation.

  • Rick

    Lol….seriously, never leave stuff in your cabin on a cruise. There is the now famous lady who had her iPhone stolen by a crew member on a Disney Cruise. He took all kinds of photos, including some with him in them. Unfortunately for him she it set to upload immediately to the cloud so posted the photos along with "funny" captions to go with it. Here's the facebook page she set up if you are interested.

  • Traveler

    Just traveled from Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado.
    CCP from Florida.
    Reciprocal with all but Nevada.
    Contacted NRA and told them my plan. They said little to worry about since I was passing through.
    Gave me the name of a Nevada attorney too. I called him a bunch of times. He didn't call back-nor did his office.
    So, I went.
    In Utah, just before going into Nevada, I packed the Glock 29 unloaded and no mag in a gun vault. Put it in my suitcase.
    Unloaded mags. Put ammo and mags in my rolling carry bag. So, ammo was with me, but firearm was not. Bellman took my suitcase to my room. I was never carrying the firearm. My understanding was that I was legal the entire time (not totally sure about having it in my hotel room though).
    I did a lot of research to figure this one out, but was more comfortable having the handgun with me at all times while traveling.
    We really could use national reciprocity. There are bills in both the senate and the house. Hopefully something good will come out of them after the election-especially if the right guy-TAKES OVER.

    • Sparky in NV

      First off, unless you are a resident of Florida your permit is not valid in Colorado. Second, in Nevada you only need a permit to carry concealed. You can have a gun in your car loaded in plain sight or in the trunk with no problem. In the console or glove box it is considered concealed.

      • JAG

        You can have a “non resident” permit in Florida.

  • Philip

    Seems to me the Disney thing will, at some point, be taken to court. Wouldn't Florida's constitution, and the gun Laws of the State, Trump Disney? Much in the same light as the comments from 'one' Barnes and Nobles, [in Florida], banning guns… and ending up with dozens of protesters ordering coffee while carrying. B&N never pushed it, and it went away in just a few days, with no arrests, or any incidents that were reported.

    • Josh

      Disney has the right to set whatever stipulations they want on their private property.

  • Mr. Constitution

    Actually, we need a revised ironclad second amendment written absolutely clear to indicate that individual citizens have the absolute right to own, possess, carry, and coceal carry anywhere within the US. We need this in case Obama, or perhaps some other misguided President, appoints more liberal lovers who then interpret the second amendment against citizens (as it almost was in the Chicago case which we won 5 to 4). This is a must for the next Congress.

  • BigTex

    Wouldn't vacation with my family in a place where I felt it reasonable to carry a gun concealed or not and anyone who thinks otherwise ….. Well….. What further need be said?

  • Glenn Blanchard

    Almost all of my family live in Mass., I live in Florida. I will never see them again until Mass. changes its laws – they come to see me – or hell freezes over.

  • solidspine

    Please don’t follow my advice, I live in California and break the law daily and then more often, California is absurd, and the police are crazy.
    I carry my gun with me everywhere, 5 shot S&W 38 works wonderfully on the beach, which is where I live, also my 9 mm Beretta for the car and at home.

    Owning a gun is one thing, carrying it is another, in California, you are supposed to unload it and lock it in the trunk when traveling. Use to do that and I don’t do that, now, long boring story. But got stopped by the cops for driving too slow and they asked if I had any weapons and I said yes in the trunk,—-they took them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes I have been stopped, yes I have been arrested. Also have had my guns taken by the cops multiple times and have had to go court and retrieve them.

    Guess what, I still do it, would rather have my gun if necessary than be dead.

    Also I simply will not tolerate California foolish laws,
    The cops in Southern California have taken my guns but not officially, they always end up going home with the cops.

    It is wonderful having the Judge ordering the cop to return my gun to me. This has happened on two blessed occasions.

    I guess a little success goes to your head.

    • Vladimir

      Well, what more could one expect from the People's Republic of California?

    • Aragon

      Had my gun taken by a San Jose cop. Cost me $2,000 but I had the pleasure of asking the judge to instruct the same cop hand it back to me in court because he told me when he took it I would never see it again.

  • Diana Orthal

    This changes my stance on my husband's preference of traveling with a handgun and a shooting rifle. He is an avid elk hunter you see. My concern really is my children, but with this approach, I think we can compromise.

  • paulconrad

    I usually take vacations in the Southwest and usually in more remote areas so I always take guns and it’s no problem. I usually take a 9mm pistol and a 30.06 rifle. I keep the guns in the car unloaded and I put the ammo box in the trunk. I also take a few knives and a machete. If I’m out inthe wilderness fishing I will carry my 9mm, I don’t care what the local ordinance says. I will never bethe victim, that is for certain.

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