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Interstate Travel: Understanding Article 926A of FOPA

The world is a small place and gun owners like to travel as much as anyone else. Traversing the roadways of America does, however, create some complications when you choose to travel with a firearm.

In this article, I'm going to briefly discuss concepts of Reciprocity but primarily focus on article 926A of the Firearm Owner Protection Act and its application in transporting firearms across different state lines.

Starting With The Reciprocity Map

Most gun owners with concealed carry permits understand the general idea of Reciprocity. Each state independently decides what other state permits they will choose to “honor” in their own state. Some states honor all permits. Some states honor no permits. Some states pick and choose based on their own criteria.

When you hit the roadways the first step is checking the reciprocity map that reflects what states honor your concealed carry permit(s). Our map builder is (I'm a little bias) the best tool on the internet. You can input any combination of resident and non-resident permits and it will output a green and red map.  The Green states honor your permit and thus will allow you to do anything that they would allow their own residents with their state permit to do.

Click here to use our map builder

Ok, But What About The Red States

The states that do NOT honor your permit/license treat you the same as anyone in their state that does NOT have a valid permit. What does that ultimately mean? It means that each state is different and has different laws that govern what you can do with a gun and where you can have it and how you can transport it in that state. This essentially leaves you with two options:

OPTION 1: Research and become compliant with each individual state's firearm laws as you pass through them. It is a challenge to be sure. You can look online to find the statutes and attempt to interpret them. Consult legal counsel if necessary. You can contact a state police or state patrol and ask them for information. This option not only requires a decent amount of work but it can leave you without 100% certainty that you are fully clear on and in compliance with the state's laws. Tools such as our mobile app and The Legal Boundaries by State Travel book contain good state legal summaries that can help with that research required.

OPTION 2: Meet the requirements outlined in Article 926A of the Firearm Owner Protection Act, which is a federal law that protects your ability to travel across state lines with a firearm which is our main point of discussion.

How To Travel Using 926A As Your Legal Method

The Federal Firearm Owner Protection Act was passed in 1986 to address the abuses of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Among its many provisions is article 926A which states:

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.

So essentially you can transport any firearm from anywhere you can have it to anywhere you can legally have it if you meet the following conditions:

  1. You are not otherwise prohibited from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm. Those who are prohibited probably already know it. So if you don't think this applies to you and you haven't been convicted of a felony … you are probably good!
  2. You are transporting a firearm. Transporting is a keyword in this provision. This law doesn't apply to someone who drives into New York City and stays there for 2 weeks on business or vacation. That isn't “transporting” a firearm through New York State. It is generally accepted and believed in the industry that reasonable stops such as filling up with gas or eating a meal while traveling through a state still meet the requirements of “transporting.”
  3. You and transporting the firearm for a “Lawful Purpose.” If you are on your way to a different state to commit a crime then this provision can't apply to you.
  4. During the transportation:
    1. The firearm is unloaded. That means there is no ammunition in the firearm.
    2. Both the firearm and any ammunition are NOT readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the transporting vehicle. This can be done by completely removing the firearm from the passenger compartment by placing them in the trunk or some other separate compartment. This can also be done by placing the firearm such within the passenger compartment that it could not be readily accessed by any of the passengers.
      1. In the case that your vehicle doesn't have 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.

So What Does This Ultimately Mean

If you are traveling through states that otherwise don't honor your permit(s) then you can either attempt to research and follow that state's law relative to the transporting and vehicle possession of a firearm or you can just follow the requirements of 926A which you know protect you anywhere.

**A Warning. While the Firearm Owner Protection Act does exist and does provide you with these protections, that doesn't mean that every local officer in every local state is aware of and fully clear on article 926A. Officers are going to act based on the laws they are aware of and if you end up in a legal incident you may have to fight your way up the court system to be able to use 926A in your defense. If that happens you might be grateful to have some form of self-defense insurance.

What other thoughts, comments or questions do you have about the interstate travel of a firearm? Let us know in the comments below.

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35 Responses to Interstate Travel: Understanding Article 926A of FOPA

  1. Al June 2, 2018 at 8:30 pm #

    Thank you.
    I often wondered if I were traveling from Michigan to Missouri bypassing Chicago, if I could transport legally a handgun.
    This article answers that question.
    Stay on the freeway, don’t stop for nothing but gas, and get far away from Chicago as fast as possible.

    • David Currie July 18, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

      Well Illinois does allow anyone with a CCW they do not recognize to carry concealed in their vehicle. You must leave it in your vehicle when you get out of it.

    • Ray Aitkins July 24, 2020 at 12:35 pm #

      What about those of us who qualify under LEOSA. I am a retired Deputy Sheriff, and have been issued a permit under 926c. Would I possibly run into any problems in Chicago or New York or New Jersey?

  2. Dar June 3, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    What do they consider to be a container? Does a range bag or duffle bag qualify if they are locked? Do the ammo and firearm have to be separated, or can they be in the same container?
    I normally follow FTA rules for flying when I am driving interstate road trips.
    Thanks for the timely reminder!

    • Jacob Paulsen June 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

      The law doesn’t say anything about separating the gun from the ammo although doing so may be a strategy to achieve “not readily accessible”

      It doesn’t specify any requirements for the container beyond it not being a glove compartment or console. That said I think the law infers that the container be secure and I don’t think a soft cased anything qualifies. A little Jacob opinion on that one.

  3. Monty August 2, 2018 at 7:36 am #

    Does a locked, secured gun vault that is still readily accessible (within reach) from the passenger or drivers compartment (such as under the seat) qualify? If it is secured to the vehicle and locked, it’s only “readily accessible” for those who know the combination, but that seems like a gray area.

    • Jacob Paulsen August 2, 2018 at 7:42 am #

      The law doesn’t say it can’t be readily accessible only for unauthorized users. It says it can’t be readily accessible by anyone in the passenger compartment. So in my own opinion that would not count.

      • Monty August 2, 2018 at 7:46 am #

        So to clarify, a locked, secured vault is not technically qualified as “not readily accessible” by itself? That was the crux of the question. Sounds like it needs to be physically out of reach as well? Thanks for your info and articles 🙂

      • JimB July 24, 2020 at 2:19 pm #

        Jacob; In your opening bullet points you state “In the case that your vehicle doesn’t have 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.” This seems contrary to this comment, from my perspective of a driver of a pickup.

        • Jacob Paulsen July 24, 2020 at 2:40 pm #

          JimB, it is a weird mixing of words. Let me try to clarify. Regardless of type of vehicle, the law clearly says “neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle.” So, using a lockbox that can be readily accessed by the driver while driving is in my opinion contrary to the law. Second, the law specifies that if you have a vehicle that does not have a separate compartment other than the driver’s compartment (such as an average pickup), in that case, the law further clarifies that the firearm must be in a locked container (other than the glove compartment on console). I hope that helps

  4. ABCG August 2, 2018 at 6:06 pm #

    My 2 cents…it is better to be safe than sorry. So, safely and discreetly unload inside your vehicle, secure your firearm in a locked box and seperate from the ammunition (magazines should be unloaded also even if it is detached from the handgun) then step out of your vehicle (be aware of your surroundings at all times) and safely stow both the locked box containing your firearm and the box containing your ammunition in the trunk of your vehicle. I believe this move will comply with all the laws…even that of New Jersey.

  5. Dan August 26, 2018 at 7:11 am #

    We have a travel trailer and will be going cross country. If we stop overnight or stay a few days in one of these “RED” states, as long as I keep my weapons in a safe in the camper would I be on compliance?

    • Jacob Paulsen August 26, 2018 at 5:03 pm #

      If you stop overnight or stay a few days you are arguably no longer within the guidelines of 926A and would need to be compliant with that state’s specific laws which of course vary from state to state.

    • Phil Heimburg January 11, 2020 at 11:51 am #

      What if you are Driving a Motorhome through state’s

      • Jacob Paulsen January 13, 2020 at 7:10 am #

        Phil, some states have specific laws and allowances for motorhomes and RVs but for most you would just treat it as a dwelling or habitation.

  6. Owen Carney March 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm #

    Great map. But what states will not honor the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act as it relates to qualified retired LEO’s?

  7. Frank Drakman April 15, 2019 at 12:31 am #

    Does nyc have a pass thru law i have been told yes and no i know ny state does but new york city is a issue all by its self this is a question i cant get a straight answer and to get to the northeast you have to go thru new York city

    • Joshua Gillem April 15, 2019 at 8:15 am #

      Hey Frank, what NYC has is what the rest of the country has–called 926A. Under this federal provision you’re allowed to travel interstate with your firearm as long as you’re traveling to a destination where you can legally have it, and are traveling from a place where you can legally have it and aren’t stopping in an area that’s largely considered no-go. Also, local laws should be followed.

      That does not mean that NYC won’t jam you up if you drive through there and get pulled over. Unfortunately, many of the police officers don’t know federal law. So, I’ve traveled that way before on my way from Pennsylvania to Vermont and the route did not take me downtown but remained on the highway.

      I’ve spoken to a lawyer once about this and he recommended not stopping. His argument was that, once you stop, your travel is no longer continuous and may be viewed as illegal. Literally, just pass through. That route takes you around NYC. Then again, I’m not a lawyer and nothing I say should be construed as legal advice.

      I recommend you checking this out, next:

      Legal Boundaries by State
      And our mobile app

      Both are filled to the brim with excellent info about traveling, reciprocity, etc.

      Hope this helps,


  8. thomas tharpe June 18, 2020 at 3:52 pm #

    great course

  9. Ordinary Bob July 24, 2020 at 3:36 pm #

    I own two homes, one in Massachusetts, and one in Florida. I’m a resident of Florida, and have a concealed carry license. My Massachusetts resident concealed carry hasn’t expired. Can I transport my handgun between homes, keeping it locked in the commie states, and only keeping it in my Mass home (not carrying out of home)?

    • Jacob Paulsen July 24, 2020 at 3:43 pm #

      Ordinary Bob, I’m not sure if your MA permit is valid even if it hasn’t expired. I think, and I could be wrong, that MA requires you be a resident of their state to have a valid resident permit and I don’t know what they require to qualify as being a resident. But that aside, assuming you transport the firearm following the conditions mentioned above when you are traveling through each state then your transportation through all those states is lawful assuming you can legally possess the firearm in your home in MA.

      • Ordinary Bob July 24, 2020 at 8:20 pm #

        Thanks, that’s aligned with what I was thinking, but wanted another opinion. I’ll try not to test this.

  10. TERRY July 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm #

    I ride a motorcycle. I assume that I can lock up the firearm in my luggage container since I’m not able to access it while I’m driving.

  11. Shelia Kirby September 1, 2020 at 7:30 am #

    I understand that the Federal law 926A gives me the right to transport my firearm through other states that doesn’t accept my permit just as long as I don’t stay in that state and not having my firearm readily assessable

  12. Greg October 26, 2020 at 3:52 pm #

    So I’m about to head to New York State from North Carolina to get my wife’s car inspected; I hold my CCW from NC. Just crossing the border into NY State & going to the nearest Service Station for an Inspection & out of the State after the Inspection is complete; can I just lockup my Firearm & Ammo in my car Safe separate the Ammo. Will I be compliant?

  13. Brian H December 16, 2020 at 7:07 am #

    926a protects travel with a firearm from “place” to “any other place. It does not read “state” to “any other state”. So if I travel from central NH on the MA border with my firearm locked and unloaded in my trunk, through MA to Eastern NH; would that be safe harbor travel? My “place” where my travel began (NH) was a lawful “place”, and the destination (NH) “place” is also lawful. There is no difference between traveling from NH to RI through MA, or traveling from one part of NH through MA back to NH.

    • Jacob Paulsen December 16, 2020 at 7:38 am #

      Brian, absolutely. I agree with your summary.

  14. T.h. December 26, 2020 at 9:54 am #

    If I have to spend the night in a red state on the map, is that still considered “transporting”?

    • JG May 24, 2021 at 3:02 pm #

      Not usually. “Transporting” is generally understood as passing through. Staying the night would be “visiting.”

  15. George Palmer May 6, 2021 at 8:23 am #

    I am considering an Interstate highway driving route from Eastern NYS where I have a Resident CCW permit, through PA where I also have a Non Resident permit, through a short section in MD where I DON’T have a permit, then to W. VA on my way to AZ. My SUV has no trunk but plan to transport 3 locked, tethered under seat ammo boxes and a separate untethered lock box for my gun and empty magazines behind the seat. 1. Am I safe doing that? 2. Would placing the Gun case in my under floor spare tire compartment be a legal option?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 6, 2021 at 8:24 am #

      George the locked ammo boxes and lock box for gun combo are more than sufficient to meet the requirements.

  16. Darren May 21, 2021 at 4:22 pm #

    Two questions related to the same situation… Can private property owners, namely hotels, supercede 926A protection? In other words if a hotel has a policy forbidding even leaving the firearm secured in your vehicle (no need to debate the “security” of vehicles here) overnight while enroute on a journey (and not a destination), does that supercede 926A if followed?

    Secondly and related… if the firearm is disassembled and the slide taken in but the lower left secured in the vehicle (specifically still according to 926A), does that even constitute a “firearm” or just “parts”?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 21, 2021 at 4:25 pm #

      Darren, first it isn’t clear if you staying in a hotel is still “en route” or not. I’m not aware of any court precedents that would clarify that so up to your individual interpretation for now. As to the rights of a hotel to not allow anything at all (including a gun) on their property the court precedents for that are very clear. They can prohibit whatever they want. If you think those prohibitions are unreasonable your recourse would be a civil suit. Additional resources on that topic here – Secondly, what does or doesn’t constitute a firearm is defined by the ATF. The serialized item is what is the firearm. So the slide for example is not a firearm. It is a firearm part.

    • JG May 24, 2021 at 3:03 pm #

      I would avoid trying to rely on 926A protection if staying the night in an unfriendly state. “Visiting” is different from “Transporting” or “passing through.”

  17. Tim_2A June 16, 2021 at 9:54 pm #

    One scumwad says to another: “Hey, what did that guy just put in his trunk? A gun case, or something?” They’d SURELY love to find out, wouldn’t they?

    If that box/container weighs two- or three-hundred pounds, and then a large prybar, a tire iron, or even a large screwdriver was used to open your trunk, MAYBE it’d escape being stolen.

    “Is that STUPID car alarm going off AGAIN??” Yeah, that won’t help either, because in big cities, you hear them ALOT. They just tell you that “it’s too late” to catch anyone. Kinda like 9-1-1.

    Is that storage box (made of steel, maybe like a 20mm ammo box, or at least a ‘fat .50’) bolted down to the floor of your trunk, or loose?

    All I’m saying is that those people behind sheer curtains, on rooftops, or using binoculars aren’t as easily seen as we’d like, so disguise your gun case with something that’s not so obvious.

    You should pretend that (in ‘unfriendly’ areas) everyone’s a sniper, with a spotter, and you’ll (probably) be okay.

    No, that’s not paranoia.

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