Should I Carry My Gun When I Travel?

Everyone Asks: The Answers Are Ugly

Here’s a typical email: “Hi Mr. Korwin, I have an easy question for you. Can I travel into Nevada with my 9mm pistol or am I better off leaving it at home?”

Easy question, right? “Never leave your cave without your club.” — Talk-show host Mark Walters’ easy one-liner. My easy answer on busy days: The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the 50 States,

But I had time to give this fellow the real deal, shortened, from the FAQ at, “Why can’t I just get a simple straight answer?” The simple answer must be inadequate, just too much bad hair growing on this thing. Like — who are you, where are you, how old, which gun, is it loaded, unloaded, cocked, locked, holstered, visible, hidden, cased, who asked you — and who wants the legal risk in advising you?

If you even touch the “legal” gun in your car, this may be an offense, let alone if you brandish or point it. Using it for self defense, the reason you’re asking, creates legal risks you probably don’t know completely (and won’t like). Even getting to and from your vehicle can be complex. Staying legal, and “Is my gun legal in my truck” are almost unrelated.

The only firm legal answer comes after your arrest, from the judge — or jury. “Is this legal” doesn’t count. Only, “I did this, got stopped, will I get off?” counts. Awaiting the answer isn’t pleasant.

I got lucky. He replied: “Not only did it not insult me or put me off, I loved it! I suspected there was no ‘easy question.’ You gave me the answer I needed. I like that you led me to the thought process of common sense and just being smart.” Whew. Some guys get nasty when I go this far.

He wrote how he pored over the web, learned tons, still didn’t know if he should bring it. “Should I conceal it?” he wrote. “I think I came away understanding I cannot conceal, it must remain in sight.” It’s a travesty — his rights are so infringed he can’t tell, and forced open carry (if true) invites trouble.

He continued: “Firearms are a matter of life and death. I realize this. What I’m even more frightened of than life and death is the legal system! I figure if I have it and don’t need it, so what? But, if I need it and don’t have it, big problem. I do know the first rule of gunfighting is have a gun! As you can see, I don’t yet know if I’ll leave my firearm in my safe or have it join me!”

Dear J.R.,

You’re not alone. You’ve discovered the libertarian’s nightmare — government poses a greater threat to you than gangsters. Sometimes cops can be more dangerous bad guys than bad guys.

Scenarios: 1. Criminal empties your wallet. 2. Cops (the government) remove you from the scene, impound your vehicle, your gun, restrict your freedom to move, maybe for years, and empty your bank account. Choose.

Both violate you horribly for doing nothing wrong. Both might kill you, or try. If you’re armed, you can shoot the criminal if needed — and you have the shot. Ah, but the government.

Our system was set up so technically you could shoot at the government if it goes rogue. They shot at the British government, remember? That’s why the Second Amendment was ratified and Americans remain armed. “They’ll never take my guns! Bullets first!” How many times have we heard this? But you, like most of us, have softened into putty and trash (nothing personal). “Officials” in capitols pass outrageous laws denying us our human and civil rights, our property, our free exercise of our own will, and instead of shooting the bastages — as originally intended by the founding fathers — we quake in our boots and ask a stranger like me whether it’s safe for you to squeak by with a sidearm, openly or discreetly. Hard words, I know.

People who did this to you belong in prison. They have no legitimate delegated authority for these tyrannical acts. You have harmed no one. There is no victim. No real violation has occurred. Possession of personal private property is not a crime under the wildest interpretations of any valid law — and this is constitutionally protected property. Who are these people? Why are they roaming free? How did America devolve so low we’re having this conversation?

People talk of state’s rights. People have rights, states have delegated powers, and banning rights isn’t a power they have. Not legitimately. This is usurpation. Arresting you at gunpoint for being peacefully armed is ruthless. Most cops who say, “I would never confiscate guns from decent citizens,” unknowingly lie. All those cops need is one of these totalitarian laws and bingo — go to jail. You have never heard of cops openly resisting. They don’t.

Challenging this in courts your government operates, well, the verdicts are in before trials begin. (This is why you’re armed — theoretically.) They won’t even allow you to raise the underlying valid arguments. The laws you’ve violated — felony possession of your property while doing nothing — are abominations. They offend everything America stands for. They won’t let you challenge this in a court of their law.

It’s still your call. Leave your gun home or carry it, vacation in fear, or work with allies to reverse the awful ways forces have shifted our culture.

Alan Korwin’s website features plain-English books on state and federal gun laws for the public. He invites you to write to him or see his work at