I am a believer in security and protection for myself, my family, and my possessions. I am also a believer in doing it legally. There is lots of speculation and discussion as to the legal “status” of the RV—is it a vehicle (after all, you do drive it) or is it a residence (after all, you do live in it) or what is it? That answer is defined by state law (or provincial law in Canada) wherever you are at that particular moment. Just as speed limits change, so do laws concerning security and protection. Therefore, common sense goes a long way in keeping you safe and within the law.
It must be strongly noted here that both our international neighbors north and south—Canada and Mexico—have NO TOLERANCE for weapons crossing their borders. Don’t do it!
Since the RV is both a vehicle and a residence, we have heard arguments that it is considered a vehicle when it is being driven and a residence when it is being lived in (parked, set up). Then, following that logic, it falls under the appropriate vehicular or residential laws. However, the one thing that forces the issue is the fact that RVs are licensed. They don’t license houses. They even license mobile homes that are potentially parked in one location for several years.
In our seminars, we hear all kinds of discussion on the legality of this—what the law can or cannot do. My take on this is that if you act with common sense, don’t look for trouble, and follow the stated laws where you are at any given time, you will likely not have a problem.
We are frequently asked if we carry weapons in our RV. The answer is no, we do not currently carry any firearms. The reason is that we have crossed into Canada at least once per year for the last five years. You cannot take weapons into their country—legally. I highly recommend you not try it illegally. They and their dogs are very good at searching vehicles. I know this from experience.
A Personal Story… A recent border crossing into Canada started with lots of questions (10–15 minutes) from the booth person. I was told to pull over and go inside where they spent another 15 minutes going over the same stuff. We then waited while he checked both our driver’s licenses (this was pre-passport). We had a clean check. Then, at yet another counter, a fellow said he would like to take a look inside the coach. No problem. We walked.
There were three more Canadian custom’s people waiting by our door. I went with the one outside and she went through every storage compartment—accessing both sides—and then our tow car, thoroughly. I finally went inside and one more person had joined the group. They looked in every door, drawer, nook, and cranny—took their time—flashlights shining in the rear of those storage areas, carefully moving (a bit) things in front to be able to see in back.
Finally, one took me outside and asked if I had any weapons on board. I said no (the truth) and he said that he was getting his dog and that if there were any weapons or drugs, the dog would find them, period, the dog doesn’t fail. I told him to get the dog.
Then the surprise—he said they had found two empty handgun “holsters” in the bedroom and again, did I have any weapons on board? No, I said that I had owned a handgun but sold it because we were going into Canada and that I had the receipt. He asked to see it. While looking at it, he attempted to ask some “tricky” questions—I guess trying to get me to say that I had a weapon. I didn’t.
He got the dog (even carried it to the coach so it wouldn’t walk through the water and mud outside). The dog went everywhere inside and we evidently got a clean “sniff.” They never put the slides out and in the bedroom, crawled around on the bed to check everything. They even had the dog on the bed to allow it to check the rear closet.
After about 90 minutes of four people searching our coach, we were sent on our way.
There are numerous weapons including stun guns, tasers, batons, and various pepper and other types of sprays (bear spray, mace, etc.) to name a few. Many/most of these are illegal to take into Canada and Mexico. I strongly recommend that if you decide to cross their respective borders, do your research to find out what you can do legally. Some (a few) long guns are allowed into Canada for hunting but you must
follow the laws of whatever country you are going to enter and you must research this far in advance of when you plan to visit. Do not wait until you are ready to go to look into this.
A Personal Story… I was told by a retired police officer that a can of wasp spray will act as a serious deterrent similar to pepper spray. His statement was that while he had no proof of the effects on humans, he had witnessed firsthand an incident where it had been sprayed to disentangle two very aggressive fighting dogs.
Going to Alaska?
Interestingly, we regularly talk with people during our seminars who tell us they have no plans to go to Canada. That’s fine (you will miss some outstanding country). Often, we ask for a show of hands for those planning to go to Alaska and many of those same people put their hand up. Think about it… to get to Alaska, you have to drive up through western Canada and sort of turn left. The only way to get to Alaska and not cross the international border is via the ferry— a great trip—but an expensive option.
To Have, or Have Not
If, in the future, we were not going into Canada or Mexico, I would again carry a firearm in our coach. I grew up with firearms, feel absolutely comfortable around them, know how to safely handle them, and should the need arise, would not hesitate to protect myself with them. This RV is my home—I have no other.
[Author Note… Please don’t mistake this for some political or social statement, it is not. It is my statement solely about me and I am not trying to convince you of anything.]
Having said that, if I were to carry again, I would do so legally like I did before. When we lived in Texas, we both took the classroom instruction and test, qualified on the range, and for several years were licensed to carry concealed weapons. A number of states have reciprocal agreements and if you are licensed in one state, other states may acknowledge that agreement.
However, there is no reciprocal agreement with Canada and Mexico. So, even though you may be legally licensed in a state, that does not mean you can legally cross the border with your weapon.