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Transporting Firearms Across State Lines – What You Should Know

Moving with Firearms

If you plan to bring firearms with you on your interstate moving adventure, do your research first! Gun laws vary from state-to-state, especially when it comes to transporting them across state lines. Research online, or even better, consult with a local attorney about your options.

Most states have strict regulations monitoring firearms and their transference. Be sure to gain a complete understanding of your new states’ laws, as well as any laws of states you will be passing through en route to your new home.

Preparing the Firearms for Interstate Transport

First and foremost, unload your guns and turn safety mechanisms on. Break down the weapons whenever possible. It’s also wise to photograph the individual pieces of your gun just in case you must file a report down the road. Jot down the make, model, and serial number of your gun as well.

If you have hard cases with locks, utilize these during travel. If not, you might instead choose to pack up your guns with protective packaging materials like padded packing paper and place them in sturdy boxes. Label the box in a way that you will remember, but discreetly to prevent robbery.

You are responsible for moving your own guns, as most state-to-state moving services will not move guns or ammunition.

Transporting Guns Across State Lines

In most instances, federal laws allow legally acquired guns to be driven across state lines. Look into your state’s regulations involving driving guns across the border and prepare accordingly. Some of the common state regulations surrounding driving guns include:

  • Keeping the firearm unloaded
  • Locking the firearm in a hard case
  • Storing the firearm in a safe and discreet place in the vehicle
  • Keeping copies of relevant licenses and permits on hand
  • Never keeping your firearms in your glove compartment or console

For your own benefit, you might also want to print out copies of firearm law provisions and keep them on you throughout the move. Keep your firearm locked away in a small safe or tool chest, out of sight from passing vehicles and people in your car.

Some states may require a non-resident permit before you bring your gun into the area. Find out what your state requires.

Flying Legally with Firearms

Should you choose to fly with firearms, you’ll want to be aware state policies, TSA requirements, and your airline’s guidelines. Firearms are required to be checked rather than carried on. Most airlines recommend checking your firearm in a locked piece of luggage. Don’t forget to declare your firearm at check-in.

  • When you’re packing up your firearms, take the following steps:
  • Unload the gun
  • Place the safety lock on
  • Lock it inside a hard case
  • Always keep the key to the case with you
  • Take the gun apart
  • Check magazines, clips, etc. in their own boxes within the case
  • Cover and secure ammo clips and firearm magazines
  • Secure all ammunition

Remember not to leave your ammo loose and keep the shell size in mind. Rifle and pistol ammunition must be in a locked container separate from the firearm container. However, shotgun shells under .75 caliber can stay with the firearm itself.

Note that there may be fees involved with checking a firearm. International travel often has further restrictions than domestic travel, so conduct your research accordingly!

How to Ship a Firearm Safely

Maybe, either for space or safety purposes, you would rather ship your guns instead of flying or driving with them. You can use the US postal service to transport guns, but you need the know-how before doing so.

  • Prepare Licensure: The gun sender AND recipient (you may need to leave it in the care of someone else until you arrive in the new state) must be a Federal Firearms License holder. Be prepared to share your license number and the recipient’s license number and information.
  • Disclose Information: Let the postal service know that you are shipping a firearm. Divulge all helpful information about the firearm and follow their instructions regarding tracking information and delivery signature policies.
  • Be Flexible: Keep in mind you might need to open the package to verify that your gun is unloaded before the postal office will accept it. Pack it up accordingly and be open to a double-check.
  • Ship Specifically: Gun shipment laws vary based on the gun. A handgun must be shipped via private common or contract carrier if you would like to send it to yourself. If you are shipping via a private shipment company check out their regulations before bringing your firearm to them.
  • Consider your Supplier: Dealers or gun shops may also be willing to ship your guns if you are their customer. They all have their FFLs and therefore are qualified to ship firearms.
  • Don’t Pack Ammo: Remember that you cannot ship ammunition via USPS.

Transporting Your Ammo

Storing your ammunition properly while moving is critical. Correct packing and storage will keep you and your loved ones safe and extend the life of your ammunition. Ammo should be kept in a safe place for about 12 months until expiration. If you try to store your ammo improperly or keep ammo longer, it will not be the same quality, and it will not be reliable.

Here are the keys to storing and transporting your ammunition:

  • Keep it dry: You can use ammo cans, moisture-absorbing packs, or simply ensure a dry spot in the right climate. Humid areas are not ideal for ammunition storage.
  • Keep it cool: If ammo gets too warm, well over 100 degrees, it can begin to break down. Temperature swings can also be dangerous, so consistency is key.
  • Label it: Label ammo with dates indicating when you purchased it. It is important to use the oldest ammo first and save the newer ammo for later use.

These tips are especially important for firearms holders who have a stockpile of ammunition. Store your ammunition securely and transport it carefully.

Remember, ensuring safe travel of your firearms is your responsibility and requires knowledge of and compliance with state gun laws. Make sure you do your research and practice gun and ammo safety throughout your move.

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