Many RV boondockers keep one or more guns with plenty of ammunition on hand. Most take the attitude that anything can happen when camping on open, public land.
Depending on where you’re camping, you may never see any law enforcement patrols. On open BLM land, where dispersed camping is allowed, it’s rare for BLM officials to make patrols. On the other hand, on USFS lands, it’s common to see forest rangers making patrols, but they mostly patrol the more heavily trafficked areas.
Add to that, many areas where RV boondockers camp will have weak to poor cell phone coverage, making it difficult to place an emergency call.
How Many Guns Do I Need?
The average RV boondocker keeps one to two guns. Most include a handgun capable of holding several rounds. Many people feel a .22 caliber gun to be too small to be effective. Meanwhile, .38 caliber guns are popular.
Boondocking Is Still Very Safe
RV boondockers rarely invade other people’s rigs and commit acts of violence. Almost all of them are quiet people who love solitude. It’s often outsiders who venture into a remote area, see an RV set up, get curious about it, that feel encouraged to trespass, poke around, or create a nuisance.
Even then, the vast majority of boondockers feel safe enough to continue full time boondocking. If anything, they’ll choose not to come back to an area where they had a bad experience.
Can I Shoot My Gun on Open, Public Land?
The Bureau of Land Management does not have any rules against discharging of firearms on open, public lands where dispersed camping is allowed. They do, however, ban the discharge of firearms on developed campgrounds. The BLM still has rules against creating a public nuisance or creating a danger to others.
The United States Forest Service allows for the discharge of firearms under very specific circumstances.
For more details on shooting guns on public lands see, “Can I Shoot My Gun on Public Lands?”
Can I Take My Guns Across State and Federal Borders?
You can carry your guns across state lines. Even though some states may have laws restricting certain types of guns, there are no authorities at these borders to stop you and ask about guns. There are a few states (California for example) that will ask you about any fruits and vegetables that you’re carrying, but so far, no state inquires about weapons.
Canada does not allow you to carry weapons into its country. Their border patrol agents will ask you if you have weapons, and will confiscate them if you do, and may even arrest you. If you are a Canadian citizen, and you managed to bring a weapon into the United States, and then you want to bring it back into Canada, you must first visit a Canadian Customs office before you leave Canada, and declare every weapon. When you return to Canada, you will be required to re-declare these weapons, and they will be compared to your original declaration. However, it’s highly unlikely the USA will even allow you to bring those weapons in. Generally, the USA may allow you to bring them in for competitions and trade shows if you can prove that’s your primary purpose.
Mexico does not ask at all.
If traveling into the United States from from another country, guns are not allowed in. Non-US citizens are not allowed to carry firearms in the United States, except under very limited circumstances. If you are a US citizen, and you bought a weapon from outside the United States, and you want to import it into the country, you will not be allowed to do so. It will be confiscated, and you may actually be arrested. If you are a US citizen, and you carried your weapon into another country, and then want to carry it back, you must first meet with any local Customs and Border Protection office and file an Electronic Export Information (EEI) before you depart the USA. It’s a very detailed and complicated process that includes a full background check and can take months to complete. Make sure, you absolutely want, and really have to take, your weapon across international borders.
Can I Just Sneak My Gun Across the Border?
Many RV boondockers actually do this. Some do it completely forgetting that they have a gun in the RV. Both US and Canadian border patrol officers will ask if you have weapons, and if you answer “no” there’s a good chance they’ll accept that answer if you don’t fit “the profile” of a smuggler. Otherwise, they do keep dogs at the border, and will walk them around your vehicle sniffing for contraband. Most of the time they’re looking for drugs. It’s also dependent on the officer him/herself. At border crossings with low traffic volume, officers are more prone to running thorough checks. But at border crossings with high volume, they don’t want to waste time with the cute couple in the Minnie Winnie.
If you have a lot of weapons on board and a lot of ammunition, a dog may pick up that scent. You don’t want to put yourself on record as answering, “no” and then let them catch you in a lie.