I’m a big fan of the Second Amendment, and I do carry a gun myself, when I can do so legally. I have a right-to-carry permit from my home state (Indiana), and my permit is honored in twenty-eight other states. I did a lot of research on this subject for my own personal knowledge, so I can make sure I stay within the law. And, I figured there must be a lot of drivers out there who were wondering the same thing.
In fact, I was sitting in a room with about ten other truck drivers a few weeks ago and the subject of carrying a gun came up. Two of the drivers there admitted they carried a gun in their truck. I didn’t admit it, even though I had one in my truck, and I wondered if anyone else wasn’t admitting what he had. Which had me wondering how many drivers really keep a gun with them. From what I heard that day, I’d guess that three or four out of ten drivers probably pack a gun in their truck (in states where they can do so legally).
One driver quoted the Second Amendment, which states simply, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” However, even though the Constitution is very clear, that this right shall not be infringed, it has indeed been infringed, especially with local, city, county and state laws.
One driver brought up another interesting point – ammunition is a hazardous material, as is a loaded gun. But, as stated in the FMCSR handbook, in the very first paragraph of the HAZMAT chapter, all of the rules in the entire (HAZMAT) chapter only pertain to vehicles, which are required to display placards. And since a few bullets are not enough to require placards, all the rules in the chapter do not apply.
Every driver there had an opinion. It was a hot topic, and one driver even stepped away from his computer, and he was in the middle of a California CDL Practice Test. Most of the truckers there were strong supporters of the 2nd amendment.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not specifically prohibit a truck driver from having a gun. So, if you want to carry a gun in your truck, you’ll have to know your state laws and the laws of the states where you go. I suggest www.handgunlaw.us (in my opinion, this is the best site for this information). There, you can look up your state and see which other states honor your right-to-carry permit. They also have links directly to the state’s websites, so you can verify the information, too.
There is a Federal law, known as the Peaceable Journey Law (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 44, 926a – Interstate Transport of Firearms), concerning transporting a firearm in a vehicle across state lines (including RV’s and cars), which states that a person can transport a firearm from a state where it is legal, to another state where it is legal, as long as the firearm is not loaded, and it, along with its ammunition, are not accessible from the passenger compartment.
Of course, carrying a loaded weapon, and transporting an unloaded weapon are two different things. According to the Peaceable Journey law, all states should allow you to transport an unloaded gun, which is not in the passenger compartment. But, carrying a loaded gun can still be done legally, as long as you have a right-to-carry permit, and you are in your home state, or a state that honors your permit.
There are news stories every day in this country, where guns save lives. You may not see the stories on most TV news shows, but they are on a lot of newsworthy websites, including some TV and radio stations that report local news (and, of course, on many of the gun-rights websites). I found a recent story from Knoxville, TN, reported by the Knox County Police on their website (www.knoxsheriff.org). In March of 2009, a truck driver from North Carolina was sleeping in his truck at his customer’s location in Knoxville, when he heard someone trying to open his door. Minutes later, the driver-side window was smashed with a rock. A few minutes after that, the door opened and the suspect climbed into the truck. The driver shot him and killed him. The police ruled it an act of self-defense and the driver was not charged.
The laws are a lot more lenient when it comes to protecting your home, than they are for protecting your truck. But, to an OTR trucker, his truck is his home when he’s out on the road, especially if he’s sleeping in the sleeper. So, if you ask me, a driver should be able to protect himself while on the road the same way a person could protect their home – with a loaded firearm, within reach.
There was a recent bill that failed to pass in July. It would have been perfect for truckers, and was in fact written with truck drivers in mind. National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity (HR 197) would have allowed anyone with a right-to-carry permit from their home state, the right to carry in all of the states. It had broad bi-partisan support, with twenty Democrats voting yes, but fell just short – the vote was 58 in favor and 39 opposed. However, it needed 60 votes to pass. The 60-vote threshold was decided upon by an agreement between senate leaders.
I am a firm believer in a God-given right to protect oneself, and one’s family. I agree with what Ted Nugent said one day in an interview with Evan Smith of the Texas Monthly. Nugent said, “Let’s pretend that there is no Second Amendment. I don’t need a document, and I don’t need another man to explain to me that I have the right to defend my gift of life. And, that there is an argument in America that will try to tell me they will dictate where, how and if I can defend myself, I find that preposterous. I am a free man. Don’t tread on me. The Second Amendment is my concealed-weapons permit, period.”
Stay safe out there. And remember, your family can always come and get you out of jail, but they can’t come and get you out of the morgue. Be sure to visit my website (www.bigcitydriver.com) for more advice, tips, stories and insights about trucks, truckers and trucking.