I always recommend consulting with a legal professional before carrying firearms in commercial vehicles.
Truckers are on the road day and night, and some of the stops truckers have to make are not in the safest of neighborhoods.
Life on the road can be scary.
So, truckers often ask: can a truck driver carry a gun legally?
And the answer is often difficult to find. The problem is that truckers will cross state lines and jurisdictions where carrying a gun may not be legal.
It’s important that before you start carrying a gun, you make sure that you’re legally allowed to carry it where you’re traveling. You might be able to carry a gun in Texas, but what happens if you need to transport goods to Florida?
Can you carry a gun in all of the states in between? This is where the law gets tricky.
Interstate Transportation of Firearms
Cornell Law Schools provides great legal-related resources, and the school talks about a code that is very relevant to the question being asked: 18 U.S. Code § 926A – Interstate transportation of firearms. It’s important to consider this law before transporting firearms.
The law dictates:
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
In essence, Federal law is leaving the decision on whether or not a trucker can carry a gun in the hands of state legislators.
Carry Permit Laws
Open carry laws are different with every state (check the NRA website), but a majority of states do allow open carry. The rules differ, with some states requiring permits and some not requiring permits.
States also have a right to deny open carry.
The Department of Transportation states that concealed carry is a state law, so in all cases, you need to go by the state’s law that you’re in if you plan to carry. Now, some states do have reciprocity laws, or laws that allow you to carry in one state if you have a permit in another state.
For example, Alabama honors state carry licenses and permits from every state.
So, if you’re licensed in Texas and drive into Alabama, you should be able to openly carry a firearm.
What happens in states that don’t allow carry?
If you enter a state that doesn’t allow you to carry, you’ll likely have to:
- Lock the gun up
- Secure the ammo away from the weapon
- Place the magazine away from the weapon
Again, every state has their own requirements, but in general, you’ll need to keep the gun unloaded without a magazine for the best safety.
This doesn’t mean that truckers have to go unarmed. A lot of truckers will carry baseball bats in the cabin or clubs that they can use to defend themselves. Some knives are often legal, but the type of blade and size will have a bearing on the knife’s legal status.
Tasers are also another option.
When considering tasers, you have to consider that 45 states allow tasers to be carried legally. This means that you can openly protect yourself if needed. And while the taser doesn’t provide long-range protection, it will provide the up-close protection that you need if getting robbed or mugged.
Employer Firearm Policy
Firearms in commercial vehicles will always be a touchy subject, and the first and most important thing that you can do is inquire with your employer about their firearm policy. Employers may have a firearm policy that doesn’t allow employees to carry firearms inside of company-owned trucks.
This is always a cause for concern.
If your employer doesn’t have a firearm policy, you might want to ask them for their advice on carrying a gun while on the road.
Employers may have a better grasp on local laws and can help you with the legalities involved with driving with a firearm.
So, what does this all mean for a truck driver. I recommend you do the following to make sure that carry is allowed.
- Check with your employer. An employer is the first person to contact. Company policy handbooks may have a section on firearms. If the handbook doesn’t have a section, ask your employer what their stance is on carrying.
- Research local laws. Since federal laws really don’t dictate open carry, it’s up to you to research local laws on the matter. State laws will allow you to have a better idea of the legalities of open carry.
- Research out-of-state laws Once you reach state borders, you need to be very careful about state laws. Research reciprocity laws when entering into another state as well as their open carry laws. You may even need to lock your firearm away when in another state.
Truckers who want to open carry can use the information above to ensure that they’re not breaking any state or local laws.