Navigating gun laws for truckers

| November 12, 2012

The question of carrying a gun for protection is one that comes up often, and there’s a lot of murkiness and misinformation regarding actual laws for commercial drivers. First and foremost, start with your company’s policy. If your company doesn’t want you to carry a gun and you do, you could get into trouble and potentially lose your job. That’s common sense. For owner-operators, it’s up to you.

A direct quote from the NRA/IRA Guide to Interstate Transportation states:

Federal law does not restrict individuals (except convicted felons; persons under indictment for felonies; adjudicated “mental defectives” or those who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions; illegal drug users; illegal aliens and most nonimmigrant aliens; dishonorably discharged veterans; those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship; fugitives from justice; persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence; and persons subject to domestic violence restraining orders) from transporting legally acquired firearms across state lines for lawful purposes. Therefore, no federal permit is required (or available) for the interstate transportation of firearms.

Each state has its own laws regarding the right to carry. Gary Slider of has an extremely informative and up to date website, with interactive maps and links to applications for permits in each state. This site is frequently updated and has a simple format. Gary answers every e-mail personally.

There is no uniform state transportation procedure for firearms. If in doubt, a traveler should carry firearms unloaded, locked in a case, and stored in an area (such as a trunk or attached toolbox) where they are inaccessible from a vehicle’s passenger compartment and not visible from outside the vehicle. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate locked container.

Authorities may search anywhere within your reach without a search warrant after a valid stop. They may not open and search closed luggage without probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be found. This applies particularly to luggage in locked storage areas or the trunk of a vehicle. Consent is necessary for such search. You have the right not to consent.

You also have the right to remain silent.

A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage. A provision under FOPA was that persons traveling from one place to another cannot be incarcerated for a firearms offense in a state that has strict gun control laws if the traveler is just passing through (short stops for food and gas), provided that the firearms and ammunition are not immediately accessible, that the firearms are unloaded and, in the case of a vehicle, locked in a separate storage area.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois seem to be cited in various articles as “problem areas” for concealed carry law. It’s also been mentioned that the laws vary when you’re on American Indian reservations. There are about 800 Native American tribes listed by the federal government. has a comprehensive breakdown of the ones with information available online.

Note: This article is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.

  • Gary Slider

    Problem states are NY, NJ, DC and Mass. You can transport a firearm through the state if it is unloaded and secured so not accessible to the occupants. The problem is if you stop then you fall under that states law and can be arrested as you have an unregistered etc firearm in the state. I will not take any firearm into those 3 states.

    Illinois is a problem but as long as it it unloaded and secured. you can stop in IL for the night just leave it locked up. Stay away from Chicago.

    There is a Federal bill in to allow those traveling who keep it secured to stop to eat and even stay the night in a motel etc. But it has not passed.

    Again I would not take a firearm into NY, NJ, Mass or DC. It is not worth the risks.

    Stay safe, Gary Slider

  • Hanadarko

    Yea, I was warned never to bring a firearm into Chicago in the rig, even if the gun was unloaded, locked in a case and locked in a toolbox and the ammo, locked in a case and locked separately in another tool box. That’s insane, but what I was taught in the CC class I took,

  • Mike Smith

    Years ago CA cops would say it’s illegal to carry a firearm, but I’d rather be alive, and in court, than be dead and in the morgue.

    The states hardest on good citizens seems to not care to much about the Mexican & negro gang members caring guns: being their gang member criminals their should be special laws to hunt them down & imprison them. After all they have special laws to give them jobs, (affirmative action, & to give them free money to go to schools). If there was an active hunt for these scum there would be less concern for good citizens to care fire arms. Somethings seriously wrong America.

  • Victor Balogliyan

    How can some one use the Gun for portection when the Gun and the ammunition are locked in seprate boxes?

  • greek

    I always carry a pistol in my car and truck and on the motorcycle , In Texas we don’t need a CHL as long as it is not on your person that change to Texas law started about three years ago . However i have carried one with me in the big truck since the late 70s and never worried about the law , when i ran the northeast i had a two shot derringer that i could drop into a place that it could not be found , however i had to get the tool box out to get it back . right now as i type this i am sitting it a refinery with my 9mm . you just have to be good at hiding things. If i ever shot some one trying to do something to me ,i would no hang around or call the cops , I would make sure they could not tell on me and get the hell out of there. Then again in the circle i run in something like that is no big deal . I guess that may be the reason no one screws with me , or it could be the way i look I have been riding bikes all my life LOL . Back in the early 80s i even took Rosco it to canada a few times , now i just run the south east out of Texas .

  • greek

    The dam cops should have to keep there gun locked up like that !

  • Pete Theo


  • greek

    Golden Dawn Well be what saves Greece !

  • p145

    Sound like a racist to me their are Black ,Latin, White, Asian and so on gangs that are criminal

  • g

    So True…MOST of the Murder Warrants in Los Angeles and Phoenix are for illegal aliens….the southwest is berzerk with criminal gangs, robberies, home invasions, killings. Americans NEED to be armed for self defense more than ever today..cops are Overwhelmed today….You will be a long time dead if you plan to call 911 to protect you and ur family……by the time they arrive the killing Savage will have disappeared too as they mop up ur blood and get yer corpse to the morgue.

  • brian

    I am pretty sure he was referring to the FACT that most of the criminal gangs happen to be black and hispanic, its not racist its fact.

  • Honey

    If my employer prohibits me from carrying a firearm in a commercial motor vehicle, how is it different than them advising me on how I wish to worship or vote?

  • William McKelvie

    Funny how the article headline says murkiness and misinformation and the article carries it itself. DOJ sets the rules. Federal rules state what to do for transportation. Companies set their own rules. Some drivers SPEW false statements, be weary of them. Some topics should be covered by the very people who are in charge of these laws, not a writer? Yeah, that is a very good idea. We surely don’t want folks to become MORE confused now do we?

  • Justin Summers

    This is a crazy-late reply, but here goes.

    I’d say the difference is that, if you are a company driver, you are driving their property and representing them 24/7 while on the road. If you own your own truck it’s different, but when you’re a direct employee of a company, that company has every right to prevent you from carrying a gun, or endorsing a political candidate while on the job (by posting a sign on the truck or something).

    Most companies prohibit weapons on their premises, and prohibit discussion of sensitive topics like politics or religion. The constitution and its various amendments only apply to the government, not the private sector.

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  • James P. Lamb
  • James P. Lamb
  • Byron Emery Mayfield Sr

    I hauled cattle for years out of the desert in Arizona and carried a gun for snakes. I have a CCW that is recognized by AZ.UT .and TX, but none of them allow me to carry in a truck.

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  • Bob McMahan

    They cannot. And that is the clear intention.

  • Bob McMahan

    Mike’s point, which is hard to refute, is that violent crimes are predominantly perpetrated by certain ethnic groups. Obviously, some crimes are attributed to Whites and to Asians, but not nearly as many. It is not racsist to point this out.

  • mike

    Pretty sure his use of “negro” makes it racist

  • Bob McMahan

    How so? If we can identify folks only to be called “racist”, that makes it hard to understand what is going on. ” Negro” used to be an acceptable way to refer to folks of that race. Tastes change and it is hard for us old folks to keep up. That does not mean we keep white robes and pointy hoods in our closets.

  • Bob McMahan

    Gary Slider has been a great source of accurate firearms information for years. His comments are well worth attention.

  • randy

    They have no more right to dictate 2nd Ammendment rights then they do the color of your skin or religious beliefs or political party ….. It is a constitution right same as all the others….
    If they say no, then that is a direct infringement on your civil liberties…..

  • Justin Summers

    The Constitution and Bill of Rights protect us from the government, and have very little to do with how private citizens interact with each other unless specifically stated. A workplace can’t force its employees to practice a cetain religion or vote a certain way, but is justified in asking employees not to discuss the potentionally inflammatory topics of religion and politics.

    So the government can’t take our guns, but if my friend asks me to leave my handgun at home when I visit, that’s perfectly fine.

  • Finkster

    Sounds like you’re the Racist. It about the Common Criminal and the Right for the Non Criminal to protect themselves. Go to AZ & CA and look for the Criminal Element and you;ll see he spoke truthful fact. Not Racism. It is not the rest of society’s fault that the facts are the facts. Take your Racism and stick it.

  • Thomas Duncan

    What makes anyone think you have to have a permit to practice your constitutional right anyway. You have to stand up for your rights. The constitution is your permit! I am an American citizen and my rights are not given to me by the government state or federal as a free man.

  • Thomas Duncan

    Why would you work there? Screw them….they probally think you are a dangerous man being you are concerned for your safety. Bet your ass they have weapons on them.

  • mousekiller

    Off the wall here but couldn’t you just happen to be cleaning it and someone tried to rob you? Is there a ruling that says you can’t clean it while in transit? Dont know of one my self. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.