If you’re a hunter or firearms enthusiast facing a cross-country move, you may be wondering how exactly you’re supposed to move your guns across state lines. With gun laws varying significantly from state to state as well as the obvious safety considerations, moving your firearms incorrectly can have some serious consequences. Consider the following advice regarding moving your firearms to help prevent accidental injury and trouble with the law. (Please note that this article is NOT meant to serve as a restatement of law, and as gun laws change frequently, it is always better to consult an attorney for updated and accurate information.)
Moving Firearms Across State Lines
Right to Carry Reciprocity
Although you’ve likely already done this prior to deciding on the move in the first place, you’ll want to review the local and state gun laws of your new home to avoid unintentionally breaking the law. For example, if you’re moving from Nebraska to Colorado, your Nebraska carry permit will be recognized by the State of Colorado; however, if you’re moving from Nebraska to Illinois, your permit will not be recognized, and you will have to pursue an Illinois-issued FOID (Firearm Ownership Identification) card to lawfully possess a firearm.
Federal Laws On Firearm Transportation
Under the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA), it is legal to transport a firearm if
- You are lawfully allowed to own and carry that firearm where you’re coming from.
- You are lawfully allowed to own and carry that firearm where you’re going.
- The firearm is unloaded.
- The firearm is locked out of reach.
That being said, certain local and state governments consider this act only as an affirmative defense, which means you could still be arrested. Do what you can to avoid this by keeping copies of applicable licenses, permits, and pieces of legislation with you during your move. We recommend printing out the applicable sections of FOPA as well as reciprocity information for relevant states.
You may be wondering why you cannot simply carry your firearm on your person if you’re allowed to do so both where you’re moving from and where you’re moving to. By transporting your firearm on your person (or loaded or in reach), you are automatically subjecting yourself to local and state laws, which may not be as forgiving as federal firearm transportation laws. To be safe, transport all firearms unloaded and locked out of reach.
Packing Your Firearms Properly
Whenever handling a firearm, whether you know it’s unloaded or not, always follow these four basic rules of gun safety:
- Always assume a firearm is loaded, regardless of what you “know.”
- Never point a firearm at something you’re not prepared to destroy.
- Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond or behind it.
- Always keep your finger OFF the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
Some moving companies will allow you to transport your firearms in the moving truck and include firearms in their packing services, but many prohibit this in their company policies; furthermore, it is illegal for moving companies to transport ammunition, so we’ll be discussing the proper way to transport your guns and ammo yourself.
To prepare your guns for transport, ensure that they are empty, remove all magazines, and activate all safety mechanisms. You may also choose to pull your firearms down for transport. According to FOPA, in addition to being unloaded, firearms must also be locked away out of reach. Guns put away in center consoles or glove compartments are not considered locked away or out of reach, so either opt for your trunk or invest in some other type of lockable container. Ammo must also be transported in a locked container out of reach, and it must be packed separately from your firearms.
Moving Your Gun Safe
If you’re transporting firearms to your new home, it’s likely that you’ll also be moving the gun safe where you keep them. Empty the safe before moving it, and follow the above instructions to prepare your firearms for the move. Next, wrap your safe in bubblewrap or moving blankets to keep it from getting damaged in transit, and use a dolly to load it into the moving truck. If you’ve never moved a safe before, just treat it like a refrigerator, go slow, and be careful.
When You Arrive
When you arrive at your new residence, unload your gun safe before unloading your firearms to ensure they have a secure place to go as soon as you unpack them. Check each firearm for damage as you unpack it. Finally, enjoy hunting or shooting in your new city, and stay safe!
The moving and packing experts at Ocean Moving and Storage wish you a happy move. Feel free to get in touch with us if you need help with your relocation. We offer our moving and packing services to areas all over the United States.