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Essential Truck Camping Advice

Personal Safety for Truck Campers: Part 2

With decades of experience as a Police Officer and Park Ranger, Bryan Appleby shares expertise on carrying firearms and non-lethal self-defense tools while truck camping.


Let’s get right to the question most of us have asked ourselves at one point of another.

Should I carry a firearm for my own protection while truck camping?

The quick answer is, “Well, maybe”.  There will always be a debate of whether or not one should carry a gun.  As with my new bride’s comment, thirty-five years ago, it has to be in your comfort zone.  The majority of people really have no business carrying a firearm, even though it is their right in the United States.  Let’s break this down, without getting into a big debate.

With my long history of growing up hunting and working in law enforcement, I have very distinct opinions of firearms.  The important point is, are you willing to take another person’s life with a firearm?  If not, there are other means you should consider so you don’t become a victim with your own firearm.

As a police officer, we spent considerable time training with ex-convicts on techniques of weapon retention.  Criminals have trained, often in prisons, on how to disarm individuals, specifically police officers.  So yes, think about that.

When a choice has been made to carry a firearm, just remember you have the responsibility to decide if it is worth destroying two lives by using one; the person you possibly kill or injure, and your own life too.  Is it worth this over a material possession?  For me the answer is no in almost all circumstances.

Are you prepared to defend your actions in a lengthy investigation and trial?  If not, consider other alternatives.

Protecting oneself and/or a loved one over an otherwise insurmountable force is always another argument for possessing a firearm.  In a life threatening situation for another person, or myself, I would not hesitate in using a firearm.  But that type of situation is rare.

If I am to carry a firearm, should I have a handgun, or a long gun (shotgun or rifle)?

Which type of firearm you take with you is dependent on what you are comfortable using.  You should have frequent practice and training (and re-training) with your chosen firearm.

Another factor is how far away the threat is.  Anything over four car lengths is generally ineffective with a handgun, for most individuals.  Anything over four car lengths is also, possibly, not as much of a threat.  Using long guns allow your projectile to travel a distance that could impact other unintended victims.

Are there any considerations for bringing firearms across state borders?

There are many responsible gun owners who prefer to carry firearms with them while they travel.  Often times there are no restrictions for them to do just that.

The rule of thumb is to be prepared for the regulations of the states you might visit.  It is important for the firearm owners to know what the rules and regulations are for each particular state.

To be safe, have a lockable hard-sided case for your firearm.  This case should allow the firearm to be trigger locked and/or cabled.  In some situations, the lockable hard-sided case and firearm needs to be stored in a location that is not occupied by a person.  The ammunition also needs to be stored in a separate location.

For those who are carrying firearms for Concealed Carry, provides updated information about which states you will be allowed to carry a concealed firearm, defaulted by the state which issued your permit..

Link: provides information about states that allow open carry, and the open carry restrictions.  Be informed and follow the requirements upon entering each state.

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