Truckers and Guns

Is it legal for CDL drivers to have a loaded gun in a commercial truck?”  Short answer is, yes as long as you have the required Permit for the state that you are in.  

Now to dissect this misconception of it not being legal.  If you have been in a truck stop and listened to the chatter from drivers you will hear some off the wall things.  Drivers have too much time to think about things. I know this first hand as I was an OTR Driver for 10 years. This rumor was more than likely started by the trucking companies.  There is more risk to them from you shooting someone in self-defense than you being murdered on the road. So as they hire drivers they tell them that it is against the law and their policies.  It might be against their policies but there is no law saying that it is illegal to carry in a commercial vehicle. Go ahead and look in your little FMCSA green book. (Here’s a link to the FMCSA website and you can search the regulations yourself http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations )    So if they (FMCSA) have not made a regulation against it and the federal government says that we may transport a gun for legal purposes across state lines, as long as we are not prohibited from owning guns.  Then it is perfectly legal.

Driving a truck across the county is a tough job, on a daily basis you deal with traffic, the DOT and State Police, brokers, adverse weather and the crime that is usually around the truck stops.  If you have spent time on the road you will have seen a lot of crime (road rage, drug dealers, muggings, prostitution and straight up violence). Truck stops are not usually located in the nicest parts of town, they are placed near highways in industrial or lower income residential areas.  There is a real need to protect yourself in these environments. 

So now that we know that it is perfectly legal and there is a need to carry, let’s get into what it takes to carry a gun in your truck for self-defense.  The 1st step that you need to do is to get your Permit or License to Carry from you home State. This is easy for most States. While some will make it difficult for you to acquire a permit most just require you to get some form of training and pass a background check. With you resident permit you should be able to carry in more than your home State as States will have either recognition or reciprocity with different States.  To gain more States that you are legal to carry in, you could apply for a Non-Resident permits from Utah or Florida. With Utah you have to take additional training from a UT certified instructor but FL will accept you Resident Permit as their training requirement so there is no need to take another class.

If you are a OTR driver you might go through 10 or more states in a 24 hour period and every state can have slightly different laws regarding carrying a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, it might seem that is a daunting task to keep legal as you drive this great country of ours. But with the great resources available now, you can do it with ease. The most useful resources are listed below. Once you have gotten our permit(s) now it is time to talk about the required equipment .

Gun:  Depending on what States you plan on carrying in you might be subject to magazine capacity limits.  So this must be taken into account when choosing a gun. As of March 2014, Washington, D.C (10). and eight U.S. states have high-capacity magazine restrictions or bans. California (10), Colorado (15), Connecticut (10), Hawaii (10), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (10), New Jersey (15) and New York (71).   Most modern defensive weapons have a capacity of 5 to 20 rounds.  If you plan on traveling through one of the States that restrict the capacity of the magazine you want to make sure that you are not violating local laws.  When I was driving the limits at worse were 10 rds. I looked for a gun that had a 10 round or less magazine. That does not completely rule out the full sized guns that usually accept more than ten, but you would have to make sure that you can buy magazines that are compliant.  Simply downloading the gun to 10 rounds is not always legal, some States require that the magazine cannot hold more than the limit under any condition. I choose the Glock 26 for my truck gun because it came with 10rd magazines but could also use magazines from a Glock 17 (holds 17rds).  I would also keep at least 3 more loaded magazines in my truck to compensate for the smaller capacity magazines.

Safe: If you go through a State that does not recognize your permit you are going to be required to unload you weapon and secure it in the rear most part of your vehicle.  A portable gun safe is the best solution to this. I kept two in my truck, one for the ammo and one for the gun. I secured them in the cubby under my bunk, out of reach and not readily accessible when I was driving.  Once I was out of the restrictive State I would pull over and reload my weapon and put it back into my holster.

Ammunition:  States like New Jersey and some local municipalities like San Francisco have restrictions on the type of ammo that you may possess.  New Jersey has banned hollow points and San Francisco bans the possession of certain brands (Winchester Black Talon and similar) I would try my hardest to never go to those places and if I did get sent on a load to either place I would swap my ammunition for the week to a Full Metal Jacketed round to stay compliant .  Otherwise I would carry whatever hollow point that worked the best in my gun.

Holster:  This is going to depend on how you plan on carrying, inside the waistband, outside the waistband, off-body, ankle and such.  Keeping the gun on you all day as you drive can be a bit uncomfortable. While driving, I would either have my gun in a holster attached to the steering column or in an ankle holster.  The ankle holster works well for this type of situation as your legs are bent and the ankle is closer to your hand and you can access your weapon while seated and buckled into your seat.  The steering column gave me the most comfort and ease of access while driving as it was off body but within reach. When buying a holster to mount to your truck make sure that the orientation is correct.  On the column it had to be opposite of my strong hand, in my case I bought a left handed holster as my right hand is my str