How to: Moving Guns Across the Country

How to: Moving Guns Across the Country

A gun laying on a map

Are you planning to move across the States soon? Unsure where to begin with your firearms? When it comes to guns, whether they’re for recreational hunting or protection against danger, the multitude of laws can seem difficult to unravel. We’re here to lay out everything you need to know before moving with guns across the country. It’s non-negotiable to have a good grasp of the protocols in order to avoid potential legal trouble and have a smooth moving process.

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Knowing State Gun Laws

As mentioned above, make sure to do your research on state laws before your move/travel! Gun regulations will differ greatly from New York to Florida, for example.

Reciprocity is an important thing to look into; it’s an agreement between two states that validates a concealed carry permit from the issued state. In other words, let’s say you are living in North Carolina and are relocating to South Carolina. Since you already possess a North Carolina-issued concealed carry permit, this permit will be honored in the state of South Carolina and is therefore valid. There are restrictions, however. You must be at least 21 years of age and the permit must be a resident permit (in this case a North Carolina resident permit rather than a non-resident permit).

On the other hand, suppose you are currently residing in South Carolina and plan to move to North Carolina. Then, your concealed carry permit will be recognized with no restrictions.

You may be wondering why the concealed carry permit is relevant. Well, if you are transporting your firearms in a vehicle across state lines, you are considered to be in the public’s eye. Additionally, if you want to carry your firearm outside of your residence, you must be aware of what’s allowed and what isn’t.

One state may not even require a concealed carry permit, while another could require that you obtain a permit from that specific state. There are definitely nuances in gun laws. Double-check with a comprehensive tool that compares each gun law between two states.

A person holding a magnifying glass over a map of the United States

Can Moving Companies Move Guns?

Before booking with a moving company, it’s good to know whether or not they’ll be able to handle your prized possessions. Generally moving companies will move firearms, provided that they are unloaded. But, never assume! Read through the movers’ specific rules and determine if firearms are considered a prohibited item. If it seems unclear, don’t hesitate to ask.

If you are looking to save money, it’s smart to book with labor-only movers compared to full-service movers. Some labor-only moving companies are more than willing to handle your firearms. There are even companies that specialize in moving guns. Regardless, you should still always disclose this information beforehand and double-check it’s a service the moving company you want to book with provides. They may have to take precautions when handling firearms, such as special packing procedures and recording the serial number.

While guns can usually be moved by movers, ammunition cannot. It is considered a hazardous item due to its flammable properties. To relocate with ammunition, you can either bring it along with you in your car or have it shipped via FedEx or UPS. These companies are authorized to ship hazardous materials.

Moving Guns Yourself

Would you rather take this job yourself? If that’s the case, just familiarize yourself with some important guidelines. Here’s how to move with guns across the country on your own.

Packing a Gun

The safety of yourself and others is a top priority! Ensure the firearm is unloaded and the safety is on. Once that’s settled, you can put bubble wrap around the gun and place it in a box with packing materials (like packing peanuts). It can be helpful to watch a visual demonstration of properly packing a gun.

Whether you are transporting the gun in a rental truck or your own motor vehicle, do not label the container in a manner that indicates a firearm is inside. This is a violation of federal regulations put in place by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

When traveling via car, the gun must be placed in a locked container otherwise it is considered accessible. Typically people opt for a gun safe; this is a secure option to put your firearm in when moving.

Transporting a Gun

A view of a roadway from inside a car

If you are moving with guns across the country, you are probably concerned with the specific gun laws in each passing state. Fortunately, the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, will protect you from this issue. Essentially only gun laws in the initial state and your final destination will pertain to you. Meanwhile, the states in between will regard you as a “traveler”.

Since you are considered to be passing through, be mindful of taking lengthy stops during your trip. You should not stay overnight in a state that has stricter gun laws. This is a recipe for trouble with the authorities if you unlawfully have a firearm with you.

As for the specific rules- lock your firearm away in a container and place it in the trunk or a nonvisible area of your vehicle. You do not have to worry about disassembling your firearms for transportation. You should also store ammunition in a separate locked container.

Shipping a Gun

Not interested in hiring movers or taking it into your own hands? You can always opt to ship your firearms and ammunition. As stated before, FedEx and UPS are well-known companies to ship your guns. Be sure to read their policies regarding firearms beforehand to know the specifics. For example, FedEx workers are unable to pack your firearms, so you must take care of that part yourself.

It may be in your best interest to contact your local FedEx or UPS store. This way you can understand firearm shipment procedures in detail. There are some specific and strict guidelines so become acquainted with them!

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You should now be familiar with the logistics of moving with guns across the country. Gun laws can certainly be complex. Researching deeper into them will allow you to move across state lines with peace of mind. So, whether you are hiring movers, moving guns yourself, or shipping them with a carrier, you should feel comfortable with the general firearms regulations.

Olivia is an undergraduate student at University of South Florida studying Health Sciences and pursuing the Physician Assistant career. She is from a small town in Massachusetts and enjoys taking day trips to Boston! Olivia's interests include health, weightlifting, writing, and watching movies.