Since the creation of the “Firearms and RVing” category on one RV related forum, there have been various discussion threads started. Popular topics have included “What’s Your Favorite Carry Weapon”, “Concealed Carry Permits” and “How Necessary is a Weapon?”
I’ve been a gun owner since my dad gave me my first shotgun at the age of 15. I enjoy shooting sports and have participated in competitive pistol shooting since December 2006. I learned how to reload ammunition for accuracy from my dad who has over 40 years of experience. Additionally, I’m a strong advocate of personal protection.
I believe that every American who can legally own a firearm should have the right to do so. Although, it is important to know that just because we have that right, it does not mean that all of us should exercise it. A firearm is a dangerous weapon, and in untrained hands, it can cause far more harm than good.
Gun ownership requires a critical responsibility. Each individual has to decide if they are willing and able to accept that critical responsibility. Before anyone makes a decision to carry a gun in their RV, they must understand the legal ramifications that come with gun ownership and use. It is important to note that the possibility of ever having to use a firearm for self-defense is very unlikely. If you ever do, you may find yourself facing criminal prosecution to prove you were justified in your actions. Additionally, you may encounter civil litigation from whoever you used the weapon against, or their heirs. You can be entirely in the right and still face years of legal battles and mountainous legal fees. Even worse, you could face a prison sentence. If you ever have to defend yourself by shooting someone, there will be an emotional impact that may stay with you the rest of your life. You have to ask yourself, “Am I willing to shoulder that responsibility?” Only if you are fully aware of the consequences using, or even possessing a firearm can bring, and are absolutely willing to deal with those consequences, should you have a firearm in your RV.
"For me, personally, I don’t ever expect to get into a situation that will require me to exercise my right to self-defense, nor do I expect to use my fire extinguishers to put out a fire in my RV."
No one should own a firearm unless they are well trained in its safe handling, as well as the circumstances where it can be legally used for defense. The laws differ in every state, and you must comply with the laws where you happen to be at the time.
In some states, gun laws are reasonably easy to understand, and many states will issue concealed carry permits to residents who meet the legal criteria, pass a background check and training class. In other states, the mere possession of any firearm, even unloaded and cased in your vehicle, can lead to stiff penalties. It is each person’s responsibility to know the laws of the state you travel in. I recommend all RVers traveling with firearms install on their mobile device an app entitled “Legal Heat.” Legal Heat is an app featuring comprehensive concealed and open carry law summaries written by attorneys and costs only 99 cents.
In 2010, I learned about and joined the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA). Even if you do not have a concealed carry permit, I still recommend this organization. They have lots of training material available. One of the most important benefits available is their Self-Defense Shield firearm liability coverage. The Self-Defense Shield coverage is available in three levels of protection. The annual membership fee for each level is reasonable and you could get up to $1,100,000 coverage. Visit USCCA.com to learn more.
For me, personally, I don’t ever expect to get into a situation that will require me to exercise my right to self-defense, nor do I expect to use my fire extinguishers to put out a fire in my RV. None-the-less, I’ve chosen to keep at least one firearm and a few fire extinguishers for just in case. Having a firearm does add to a sense of security. But, if the situation ever presents itself, before I would consider using a gun against a threat, I would put some distance away from the situation if at all possible.
Having a firearm poses problems whenever you have children present in your RV. Several organizations will tell you to make sure that it is unloaded and locked away out of sight and I won’t disagree with that. Some states and localities have laws requiring guns to be locked when children are present. On the other hand, responsible parents who own guns can and should teach their young kids about guns. I’ve watched a five-year-old at the range shoot as well as some adults and I was impressed by their exercise of gun safety. Now I’m not saying that all five year olds can a handle a gun. It’s the parent’s responsibility to decide when their child is ready to handle a gun. Likewise, whenever visitors, such as service technicians or mechanics have access to your rig, store your firearms locked safely away.
The first rule of firearms ownership is safety, while the second is discretion. Nobody has to know you have a gun, and the fewer who do, the better. Never display your weapon except when you feel a real threat to your life or safety. If you brandish a gun to “scare away” suspicious characters, you may be asking for trouble and will more than likely get it. (One of my cousins learned that lesson the hard way. It took him nearly two years to get his gun ownership privilege back.) That person you find suspicious may well be a fellow RVer or truck driver out for an evening stroll to work the road kinks out of his back, or possibly even a police officer checking on the welfare of people parked in a roadside rest area. Even if someone is busily engaged in taking something from your trailer, they are not a threat to your life. Drive away, call the police on your cell phone, honk your horn and flash your headlights, cry for help on the CB if you have one. But whatever you do, avoid getting into an armed confrontation. There is not a material thing in this world worth a human life. The only time I would consider using deadly force is when somebody is actually entering my trailer without permission or directly threatening the lives of myself or someone else.
Whether you decide to have a firearm during your travels, or not, it is personal decision. Hopefully, by now, you fully understand the ramifications of gun ownership and having it in your RV during your travels. Additionally, one other very important responsibility to gun ownership is practice. Whether you are a periodic RV traveler or a full-time traveler, always make time to practice at a range. Whatever you decide, first and foremost, travel safely.
The U.S. Military Campgrounds and RV Parks website and directory lists the gun access rules.