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August 8, 2023

Guns in Trucks: A Comprehensive Guide to Firearm and Airgun Laws for Truckers

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If you're a truck driver questioning whether you can legally carry a gun with you while driving, we'll try to break down the legal landscape of carrying firearms, including airguns, in trucks. This article aims to provide a clear and concise breakdown of the laws and regulations that govern this subject, including a special section on airguns like PCP rifles. While there's not a one answer fits all, we can give you guidance on how to find specific rules in your area and how to be safe carrying across state lines on those longer hauls. The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, laws and regulations may change, and individual circumstances may vary.

Federal Law: The Peaceable Journey Law

The federal law that governs the interstate transportation of firearms, including by truckers, is commonly referred to as the "peaceable journey law." This law is codified in Section 926A of Title 18 of the United States Code.

The law reads as follows:

“Sec. 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms: 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.” [TITLE 18[Section 926(a)]–CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, PART I–CRIMES, CHAPTER 44–FIREARMS]

What It Means

The "peaceable journey law" provides a legal framework for transporting firearms across state lines. Here's what it means in practical terms:

  • Lawful Transportation: The law allows any person, including truckers, who is not otherwise prohibited from handling firearms, to transport them from one place where they may lawfully possess and carry the firearm to another such place.
  • Unloaded and Inaccessible: During transportation, the firearm must be unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition can be readily or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
  • Locked Container Requirement: If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the driver's compartment, the firearm or ammunition must be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
  • State and Local Laws: The law overrides any conflicting state or local laws or regulations, ensuring a uniform standard for interstate transportation of firearms.

State Laws & Concealed Carry Permits

State laws can add complexity as some of them may overrule federal law. Regulations can vary widely by state. That's why I recommend Legal Heat 50 State guide to firearm laws that is updated yearly and is summed up for each state. Having this on hand in your truck will help you navigate the state and local laws each year. This includes laws for open carry, concealed carry, federal, state and other local jurisdictions.

Carrier Rules and Policies: Protecting Your Job

When it comes to carrying firearms in trucks, your employer's policies and regulations may have the most significant impact on your ability to do so. Understanding and complying with these rules is essential to protect your job and maintain a positive relationship with your employer.

Company Regulations: Understanding the Rules

  • Written Policies: Many motor carriers have specific written policies regarding the possession of firearms in company vehicles. These policies may vary widely between companies and can include outright prohibitions or specific guidelines on storage and handling.
  • Consult with Management: If you plan to carry a firearm, it's essential to consult with your safety manager, human resources representative, or other relevant company personnel. They can provide you with the specific rules and expectations that apply to your situation.
  • Training and Certification: Some companies may require specific training or certification for employees who wish to carry firearms. This could include safety courses, background checks, or other measures to ensure responsible handling.

Job Security: The Consequences of Non-Compliance

  • Potential Termination: Violating company policy on firearms can lead to serious consequences, including termination of employment. Even if you are in compliance with federal and state laws, disregarding your employer's rules can be grounds for dismissal.
  • Legal Implications: In some cases, violating company policy may also have legal implications, especially if it leads to an incident or accident involving the firearm.
  • Impact on Future Employment: A termination related to firearms policy could impact your ability to secure future employment in the trucking industry. It may be seen as a red flag by potential employers, making it more challenging to find new opportunities.

Balancing Rights and Responsibilities

  • Personal Rights: While you may have the legal right to carry a firearm, it's essential to balance this right with your responsibilities as an employee. Understanding and respecting your employer's policies is a critical part of this balance.
  • Safety Considerations: Carriers often have these policies in place to ensure the safety of their drivers and the general public. Compliance with these rules is not just a matter of job security but also a matter of public safety and professional responsibility.

Airguns: A Special Case

When it comes to Airgun laws, such as those governing PCP rifles, the regulations might differ slightly:

  • Federal Law: As of now, there is no specific federal law governing airguns, as they are not classified as firearms under federal statutes.
  • State and Local Laws: States and jurisdictions may have their own differing laws for airguns. To be safe, treat airguns as if they applied under any firearm law you find.
  • Caution: Even though airguns might not be considered firearms under federal law, it's wise to approach them with the same caution and awareness as traditional firearms.

Conclusion: Knowledge is Safety

Understanding the multifaceted laws governing firearms and airguns in trucks is essential for legal compliance and safety. The key takeaway is that knowledge is safety. Stay informed, stay compliant, and stay safe on the roads.