I used to travel a lot. One resource I wish I could have had at my disposal during that time was the book Legal Boundaries by State: The Travel Guide for American Gun Owners. In this article I give a brief history of my domestic travel and share a few travel pictures, and review the book.
Full Disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge. I have received no other incentive for publishing this review and I have no financial interest at all in the sale of this book.
My Domestic Travel History
As I said, I used to travel domestically a whole bunch. Here is a quick rundown of my domestic travel history. I offer it both as both something I am proud of, and proof that I intimately understand the demands placed upon the domestic travel who attempts to go armed.
A few years in the early 20-teens saw me spending 200+ nights a year in a hotel, and boarding about 160 flights a year. I’ve seen just about everything that can go wrong with travel, short of a plane crash. I’ve had flat tires on rental cars, had planes re-routed due to weather, seen the oxygen masks deploy, and endured a (ultimately uneventful) emergency landing due to engine failure between ILM and LGA. I’ve been in hotels during power outages, fire alarms, and two minor but extremely noticeable earthquakes. I’ve suffered through countless cups of coffee made on in-room machines.
After my era of hardcore air travel ended I stayed road-bound. As some of you know I lived #vanlife for a while. I mostly stayed in the big American West (CO, WY, MT, UT, ID, WA, and OR). I camped, hiked, and climbed through National Parks. Occasionally I dropped my pup off with a friend for a couple weeks while I flew out for a work gig.
It was a pretty sweet life, and I may write an article about it some day (as one of you has asked me to). That life certainly saw me cross my fair share of legal boundaries; I’ve been to all but a couple of the lower-48 (and I’ve passed through most of them), many of them during that period.
Travel aside, I have lived all over the place. The place I live now is the first place I’ve lived for more than two years since I was 16 years old. Some places I have lived considerably less than two years. I have lived in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast (several times), Southwest (twice), the Pacific Northwest, and the Midwest (a huge takeaway from that experience is that people nearly everywhere are almost exactly the same – a lesson more of us could stand to learn…but I digress.).
I have lived in places where guns are as open as it gets, and places were concealed carry was a near impossibility, and about everything in between. I have lived on one place (Alexandria, Virginia) where a simple travel detour can turn you from perfectly law-abiding citizen to statutory felon.
During most of this travel I attempted to go armed as much as possible; I was legally carrying a concealed handgun while taking every picture you see here. You never know what will happen, and there are few thoughts I relish less than the idea of being far from home, unarmed, and really needing a firearm. Enter the Legal Boundaries by State book.
Suffice to say, I’ve traveled enough to know a thing or two about traveling…and a little bit about traveling with firearms. I’ve already linked to it, but in case you missed it here’s a much longer, detailed followup on my time in the van.
Legal Boundaries by State
Legal Boundaries By State: The Travel Guide for American Gun Owners is a book that covers, well, just about everything you need to know about cross state borders with a firearm. The book begins with a page for each of the fifty states. Each state’s page covers a plethora of information, including what states’ permits that state honors, whether you have a duty to notify law enforcement, whether you can carry in a restaurant where alcohol is served, and the legality of carry in state parks.
Legal Boundaries answers just about all of the questions you might have of any particular state. A lot of these answers are extremely pertinent to the interstate traveler, such as the status of open carry, magazine capacity limitations, and possession in your vehicle without a permit. Also germane to travelers is the legality of firearms in hotels and duty-to-retreat laws (because a hotel or your camper is your domicile while you occupy it).
After the state-by-sate section, Legal Boundaries offers a lot of other very important information including a lot of high-quality information about air travel with firearms. This section gets very detailed including a discussion of how to check in, TSA-approved firearms cases, and how to travel with ammunition. If you’re unfamiliar with air-travel with a gun this should tell you just about everything you need to know, aside from your particular airline’s policy.
Next the book covers the Firearms Owner’s Protection act – extremely important information for those of you traveling interstate via road. The book also contains a section dealing with car storage of firearms. Not only does it adhered to the black-letter of the law regarding FOPA, it covers best practices and why some practices (like storing a firearm in your center console) might be a bad idea, even where legal. The book talks about hotels, hotel chains’ rules regarding firearms (of which I was completely unaware!), how to store your firearm in a hotel room, and general safety tips.
Importantly for me, the book talks about carry in National Parks. The last few pages of the book are some really handy quick-reference summaries. These are at-a-glance summaries for duty to notify law enforcement, duty to retreat, carry in state parks, restaurants serving alcohol, Constitutional carry, magazine capacity limitations and more. This is all very useful information for the traveler.
Legal Boundaries By State: The Travel Guide for American Gun Owners is a phenomenally good reference guide for travelers. I sincerely wish this had been in my pack ten years ago. If you travel – whether for work, pleasure, both, or something in between – you should pick up a copy of this book.
It is available as a hard copy for $19.99, or as an e-book for $9.99 (if you buy the hard copy/ebook combo it’s still just $19.99). I like having the hard-bound book, but I would also really recommend having the digital copy on your phone so you can easily take it with you when you travel. Seriously, check this book out. Then get out there and see some of this amazing, incredible, breath-taking, awe-inspiring nation of ours!