RVers: To arm or not to arm


By Mike Sherman

Many RVers may not always have safety and security at the forefront of their thoughts as they prepare to travel just for a weekend or maybe on a more permanent basis. Batteries, fuel, proper clothing, etc. There’s a lot of planning involved to a greater or lesser degree, depending on your goals and objectives.

Do you plan on staying mostly in RV parks, surrounded by dozens or hundreds of other folks? Perhaps you dream about being in the wilderness, away from any evidence of civilization. Or maybe a combination of both. Regardless of your plans, you will be on roads both rural and major. You will probably experience big cities and remote stretches of no-man’s land.

At some point thoughts of your personal safety will surface. It might be while you’re packing, or three days into your trip when you pull off the road in a remote area with few resources in the vicinity. What would you do if someone suddenly started banging on your door at 2:00 a.m.?

Eventually, you should consider developing a plan pertaining to your personal safety, just like you would for any other emergency like a fire or mechanical breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Everyone, regardless of their situation, is entitled to some form of defense and self-protection, especially if their family is on board.

As a retired peace officer, I have always been vocal that it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

While there is a fragmented aspect to the legal ramifications of carrying a weapon through the various states one might travel, survival is obviously the goal when dealing with any emergency.

HAVING SAID THAT, it is important that I stress the importance of always being truthful with any investigating authority in the event you are confronted with questions like, “Do you have any weapons on board?” Always be honest!

RVers: To arm or not to armAs we move forward examining the issues in depth, keep in mind that we are always influenced by personal perspective and life experiences. We won’t dissect the various laws that are printed in resources available to anyone that wants to know the law. I am interested in presenting ideas for self-protection and survival, regardless of where you are, in the hopes of offering food for thought. Ultimately, you are the captain of your ship: You decide what is best for you and your family.

Tune in next month for specifics that you can implement to help avoid problems to begin with, and what you can do if you feel trapped by any ugly developments while you are enjoying your space.

Note: We invite your polite, constructive comments. We know this is a controversial subject. Inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted. No politics!

RVers: To arm or not to armMike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. He welcomes your comments or questions at [email protected] .


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Like all gun discussions, this quickly turned to side-taking with a religious furor. The part that I take issue with is the “I’ve heard of”, “people have told me”, “I read once” stories of danger in a campground. I’ve been full timing for 14 years and have almost 400 campground reviews on rvparkreviews.com. I’ve never experienced, watched, or even heard of a confrontation that requires lethal force. Never. And BTW, I spent over 30 years on active duty and maintained proficiency with M16/M4, and M9 and am not anti-gun. Once I retired, I lost interest in maintaining proficiency and sold… Read more »

Chuck Woodbury

Keith, I have stayed a few thousand nights in campgrounds, RV parks, and in boondocking situations through the years and have never encountered any situations that I considered threatening. Being safe has a lot to do with using common sense in where you visit or stay.


I am shocked that there are so many strong men out there who feel a need to carry a gun, I just can’t imagine what you’re all so afraid. I have lived and traveled all over the US and overseas and have been in some dicey areas, but never felt that I would have been safer with a gun.

Mike Osborn

This column was interesting; thank you. I received my copy of the 2019 traveler’s guide to firearms laws and looked up California, where we plan to travel in our RV this Spring. I discovered that if I carry a firearm into CA — even in my RV –, it needs to be unloaded and in a safe. So I bought a handgun safe to put in the RV; probably a good precaution in any case. Thanks for your article! M.

Scott Ellis

Interesting topic. I’m a card-carrying liberal who grew up with and still loves guns, so I find it a complex topic just personally–and never mind as a social issue. Interesting that some folks here–on both sides–either can’t resist posting things of a political nature or don’t even hear that that’s what they’re doing. I’ve carried in the past. I don’t right now (partly because the only handgun I currently own is a cheap one that I don’t *quite* trust–which is probably worse than nothing). I’m seriously considering doing so again. I’ll be watching the column with great interest.


A couple of years ago at about 11 pm, a hand pounded on my trailer door. I went to the bedroom, retrieved my 45, and opened the window to answer. It was a policeman standing sideways about 10 feet from the trailer with his hand on his gun. I asked what he wanted. He said he was seeking a sex offender who used to be in my space. I said I knew nothing of such a person. He said he knew because my plate was from out of state. So why wake me? No answer. He just laughed and walked… Read more »

Mike M.

Nice job Mikey! My Ol’ Pard!
Glad to see your involvement regarding such an important RV’ers issue.
I testify that “Situational Awareness” does not diminish because of one’s retirement, nor does one’s willingness to assist in such matters.
Your opinions and recommendations carry weight my friend.
Will appreciate reading your articles. NCSO P32(Ret)


Excellent article Mike. Nice to be hearing from you again. You sure did start off with a “bang”. ?

Lloyd Rauschkolb

We live in dangerous times. We have a constitutional right to bear arms. Our founding fathers were wise enough to see that was necessary. Traveling through this country presents many opportunities for being attacked by robbers and by wackos who might endanger our families. It is time to recognize the need for a man to protect himself and his family wherever he goes. I am 72 now and not the man I used to be physically. I feel I need an equalizer in the form of a pistol. Any stupid state law that prohibits any good citizen from owning and… Read more »


Well said Lloyd

Dawn Warner

Great choice RVTravel, Mike Sherman is a reputable, knowledgable and very informative retired Peace Officer and Investigator. You will be educated and entertained.

Ralph Broadstreet

I always carry. Too many tales about attacks on single campers. My contribution to this subject is that a 9mm can penetrate several RV walls before stopping. My Constable recommends frangible bullets. What do you think?


I’m sure others will have varying valid opinions, but here’s MINE for general unpredictable scenarios. There are situations where slow/fast slug/shotgun ammo is the best choice, so evaluate your likely usage scenarios and risks. Fair warning, the following discussion may upset people who don’t want to think about medical trauma. “Our” objective isn’t to be malicious to the perp, but to STOP a threat, which may require some trauma. There are many types of semi-frangibles, and I “generally” do recommend *commercial* Jacketed Hollowpoint for defense. I “never” miss (:>), and don’t want overpenetration behind what I hit. If I did… Read more »

Mike Sherman

My discussion concerning weapons in an RV has generated a great deal of interest. Based on such a positive response, we will strive to have a new discussion on the topic each week, instead of monthly. I thank all of you for your interest and positive response!


Scott Gitlin

I don’t have an RV but interested in the lifestyle. This topic is always on my mind. I receive notifications from Campendium about recommended destinations. Many times the pictures show a single RV literally in the middle of nowhere, “We had the entire area to ourselves.” Also limited cellphone service. How in the world would you respond in any emergency – medical or crime-related?


I keep a club handy. It will serve its purpose.

Gene Bjerke

When I was younger, I owned a shotgun and a revolver and enjoyed casual shooting. There came a day when my marriage went so bad that I was afraid one of us (either one) was going to use the guns on the other that I sold them. I have not owned a gun since. Today I have a hiking staff next to the door of the RV. It is a recycled “jo” (think quarter-staff) from my years of martial arts training and practice. It is legal everywhere and doesn’t make holes in anything.

Benny H Smith

Mike I want to thank you for the courage to address the issue of personal protection; and hope you can look past the extremist on both sides and share some real world advice on this issue. Looking forward to your article next week.

Mike Sherman

I’m going to do my best Benny. It is certainly a controversial subject and can be filled with emotions.

robert mcbride

Always state that you carry a gun , weather you do or not, imho. Let surveys reflect that RV’s are always armed & thus give the impression to the bad guys that they shouldn’t mess with us. I see that 46% from this survey show that they never carry a gun, that’s almost a 50/50 chance that some animal will try & push his criminal luck if desperate enough. If the surveys showed 80% or more I would think a criminal would not even think about trying to break in to your RV , again Imho.

Fred Burns

My wife & I have had cc permits for many years. I carry at all times in all states where it’s legal, not out of a sense of fear, but as a simple precaution. We both have taken some extensive training courses & practice whenever possible. My wife doesn’t always carry when with me, which is most of the time, but always carries when on her own, like at a laundromat or when alone in the rv. If you’re going to carry, you really need to carry at all times, or there’s a good chance you will not be armed… Read more »

Tom Rastall

Some years back befor conceale Cary was not popular and rare in most states, Florida was having a rash of car hijackings of rental cars and vehicles with out of state plates. Turns out the criminals were carjacking the rental cars and cars with ourt of state plates because they thought chances were the driver was not armed. Florida drivers could have and probably were armed.

Rose magistro

Hubby was 36 yrs LE and we also have a firearm training business. We both carry at all times and if I can’t carry in a certain state we might be in he has a second gun on his person and will hand it to me if needed,nothing says I can’t defend myself if I can’t carry in certain states. I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.


AMEN to that SISTER ROSE ! ??????


I recently retired from a sheriff’s office in Texas so my perspective is slanted some. If you are not prepared to use deadly force against another person, please do not carry a gun. Carrying a gun brings a weapon into any confontation you may have. If you’re not willing to use deadly force, your assailant probably is since he/she is already breaking the law. They can take your gun and use it against you. Carrying isn’t just something you wake up one day and say “I want to carry a gun”. It takes continual practice and dedication. Please don’t criticize… Read more »


Retired law enforcement also. You make an excellent point. Many people think they could use deadly force until they actually have to. Hesitating just a few seconds can put your weapon in the hands of a criminal who came to the scene without a weapon.


Yes! That is exactly the advice I have given (and continue to give in retirement) during my 32 years as a Peace Officer.

Tom Rastall

Most gun fights are less then 10 feet. Doesn’t take a lot of skill to pump 3 rounds into a bad guy at 10 feet. However I agree that you have to be ready to use it and be prepared for the consequences if your wrong.

Tom Rastall

To paraphrase Sam Elliott “when the killin starts, make sure your on the right side of the law”


Thanks Chuck. I teach the laws and mechanics of defense, but repeatedly stress that I can’t really give folks the survival psychology. Many people think they’ll defend themselves then choke in the moment, and it’s hard to even predict who. I’ve seen demure quiet women take out gangs and beefy jocks cower. I think if you do the soul searching to best-guess your willingness to harm another to save yourself or kids, and carefully plan AHEAD OF TIME what threat level is going to activate what counter-response from you, you’ll do better — but there are still no guarantees. I… Read more »

Robert L Traister

My wife & I have been camping for over twenty years. Our RV Never leaves home without my 9 MM hand gun tucked away in my cloths closet. Fortunately, I have never had to take it out of its resting place, It is there just in case if an emergency ever happens. Safety first for my family…

Billy Bob Thorton

Stay tuned. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear a second amendment case on transportation of firearms. Decision will be out by the conclusion of the June term. It deals with restrictive laws in liberal NYC. That decision will help clarify the rights to transport firearms


This is a great idea for a new series. I look forward to future articles on this subject and discussions.
Maybe have another survey about gun carrying in an RV. It has been 2 years since your last one. Also include what caliber guns people are carrying.

James David Alexander

A smaller shotgun may be the answer for personal protection. Like a .410 or 20 gauge. You can carry, in most states, a long gun like a shotgun. A few states require that it is in a locked area or case. Pistol laws vary a lot depending on state and LTC rules.


We have bear spray and willing to use it!


Bear spray is illegal in some locations. Canada comes to mind. However, Wasp and Hornet spray is a legal alternative. With their typical 20 Foot range, I believe you can make a believer out of any neferaous person.

Not a lawyer, not legal advice.


Keep trying to tell people, if you use Bear Spray or some other Chemical (like Wasp Spray) and you blind the would be crook, you will be leaving in silver bracelets and more than likely prosecuted! BE SMART, before you cause all kinds of legal problems!


Doubtful, unless he/she wasn’t really a crook, in which case you would be in a lot more trouble after you killed them.


From: Pest Management In and Around Structures September 28, 2015 Why wasp spray should not be used for defense 1. There’s no research to suggest wasp spray would stop an attacker. 2. Using a pesticide in a manner other than according to labeled directions is a violation of federal law (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). 3. It is illegal (finable offense) for anyone to recommend a use other than the labeled use. 4. Personal liability is likely to be significant for a person who deliberately sprays another person with a pesticide. 5. Pesticides such as wasp spray have… Read more »


I REALLY don’t worry about the legal aspects of using something to save my life. That said, using wasp spray is stupid. I’ve sprayed a lot of nests, and wouldn’t you know the wind ALWAYS picks that moment to blow a facefull back at me. Contrary to rumors, I am not dead yet. I wasn’t even hurt beyond a few spits and saying some choice words. It’s just not EFFECTIVE as defense. I don’t really recommend ANY spray for similar reasons (carjackers LOVE mace — you gas yourself in your tight little car, and they throw you out while taking… Read more »

Katalin H Heymann

I tried to buy bear spray through Amazon, but was denied in VA, CA and AZ stating postal or regional regulations. Why do they even sell it. I guess I’ll use my pressurized fire extinguisher instead that was bought through Amazon.

Nikki Harnish

I look forward to a balanced discussion, especially skills to avoid confrontations.

James R Wagner

As a retired police officer, I always have and always will carry at least one weapon in my motorhome at all times. When traveling through Canada to Alaska, I brought a pump shot gun as no handguns are allowed in Canada. In all the 30+ years of camping and motorhome travel, I only had one incident which was at a rest stop in upper New York state. It was about 10pm and I pulled into the rest stop after being on the road all day to get a few hours rest. Once I got settled in, I had 3 people… Read more »

Mike Sherman

James, I love happy endings!


I will be following this topic! Self Protection in today’s world is an absolute necessity. Being pretty crippled up I cannot physically fight back and run away if assaulted; hence I carry. I teach concealed carry because I believe that everyone should have access to the training especially the disabled if they want it. However just getting CC license is not enough. Training beyond basic classes and regular shooting is very important and not just at static targets. Matches like IDPA (INTERNATIONAL DEFENSIVE PISTOL ASSOCIATION, IDPA.com) and airgun matches are excellent ways to keep up skills. IDPA matches are held… Read more »


Yes, shooting is a skill that requires regular practice to remain proficient, and defensive shooting requires a particular skill and mindset that must be regularly exercised. But, and this is most important, they MUST be practiced with the particular firearm, loads, and rig used in daily carry.

Richard Lang

I am not a gun owner and I don’t want to take guns away from those who are responsible owners. What I would like to see addressed is the element of fear that runs in the background of discussions such as this one. Can anyone cite the statistics that are relevant? The need to have a gun for self-defense seems to live on top of a fear – that one will need it. Yet how frequently is one needed? FYI – also agree that the current system of licensing and ownership is severely flawed. I’ve seen a number of posts… Read more »

Rey L.

I guess we can eliminate your local fire dept. as fires are pretty rare also.


There are several sources, like NRA, that cite statistics about usage of firearms, and are available in print or online. Also, there are several places where one can find which states allow or limit possession of firearms. The information is out there, one just needs to do the research and be informed before you go. I suspect as, with other things, it’s easier for us who are involved in guns for a living to know these things. But it is all out there for your reading pleasure.

John Snell

There is definitely an over abundance of testosterone and machismo in this country. Stricter laws are needed. Going to a flea market in Arizona to buy a Glock is unacceptable without a background check.


Despite being “the other side,” thank you Richard for asking a sincere and respectful question. According to crime blotters and personal surveys, an adult citizen will face a threat justifying lethal force about once a decade. It’s possible CCW “helps” in lesser cases by discouraging escalation to the point where actually using it would become justified. My own anecdotal frequency confirms 3 in 27 adult years, all threats to life curtailed by revealing my holster without drawing, so I’m glad I have a CHP overall. Yes, it IS a royal pain to carry it — it jabs my kidneys, costs… Read more »

Eric Eltinge

This fall the U.S. Supreme Court will take up restrictive travel gun laws in NYRPA vs. New York City. Thanks to Justice Brett!


He is only one opinion and vote! Let’s strengthened the laws on should be able to obtain and own a gun. That is definitely a flaw in our system!

Matt Colie

I have a very serious question (for me). I am (or at least used to be) a competitive target shooter. We have planned RV excursions to some of the matches. The two I had to drop or replan were in Maine and Montana. The Montana could have been, but the original plan was to run our excursion through California. We could no longer agree on a route to just do the match and return. The Maine match is off altogether as the match pieces all have what is now illegal (in those states) magazine capacity and I have to carry… Read more »


I’m glad you’re familiar with Peaceable Journey law, which protects you in all 50 states, even my draconian fascist home in NY. There are, however, provisions for sanctioned forearms competitions that also protect you. I’ll have to look into the specifics, but I’d imagine carrying a copy of the laws as well as some proof you really are competing, and transporting unloaded/locked/distanced would help a lot. Would it stop an overzealous/ignorant cop from detaining you a bit IF discovered, probably not. They’d call their dispatch, confirm the laws with their superior, and hopefully then release you. Pain in the butt,… Read more »

Jeff Arthur

Massad Ayoob has excellent training videos
On you tube . Highly recommend the way to answer the door.


Massad Ayoob also does awesome training classes focusing not just on shooting but the legal aspects of carrying and the shooting aftermath. He has classes nationwide. I attended the MAG 40 class and it was worth every penny. His classes are for experienced shooters who train regularly especially drawing from the holster. massadayoobgroup.com Liz, HMC/USN/RET

Bill Lampkin

With all due respect to the retired police officer, “self-protection and survival”?? No thanks, life is too short to be consumed with fear and suspicion of others; Life is NOT US vs THEM. RV Travel, if you keep this up, I’ll be gone.


why do you lock your doors


Exactly Jay. Why do you wear a seatbelt? It’s not because you’re looking for an accident to get into, it’s in case you get into an accident. I have two fire extinguishers in my RV. Not because I expect a fire, it’s for “just in case”. I’ve had a bang on the door at 2 AM in a remote place. It was people looking for gasoline. Simple solution – DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. They went away and it was a non-issue.


Great great response :^)

Roy Bertolucci

Bill, if his articles do not interest you why not scroll on by. No one will make you read them but someone else may find them useful.

Chuck Woodbury

Bill, in our various surveys through the years we learned that about 30-40 percent of our readers carry a firearm. So there is a very real interest in the subject. If you want to quit reading RVtravel.com because of this one topic, that really is not fair to us at all as we cover hundreds of other topics in even one month’s time. But if you choose to not visit again, that’s your choice. So just go ahead and unsubscribe if you wish. But, really, you do not need to pose a threat to us over one story that is… Read more »


ABSOLUTELY, Chuck; nothing more than his ASSUMPTION!! Please, PLEASE, KEEP this topic! Very interesting, and informative. And I love what you stated MIKE, about “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” Spot on! That said, we will start carrying a weapon in our motor home; never really gave it much thought before reading this.

John Snell

The majority in this country don’t own a firearm of any kind.


John are you truly sure on this “fact” you state?


The “truth” here is impossible to know, since smart states register the person instead of pistols, and long arms generally aren’t registered at all after background checks. That said, there ARE 393 Million registered handguns in the states that register them. They are registered to 43% of the populace. Not a majority yet? Technically, but still darn “strong.” towards it. But recall, many states DON’T register handguns, so I’m very confident that the total is over 50%. And then bring in the long arms, and we’re WAY over 50%. By analysis of sales records (imperfect but the closest we get… Read more »

David James

I am all about self preservation. When seconds count, the police will be there in minutes. Your choice to defend yourself or not.


Prepared is not paranoid. When I put on my cellphone each morning, I don’t EXPECT to call 911 today… but I have needed to and been glad to have a phone on my hip. When I put on my 45ACP, I don’t expect to draw today, but I have been glad I was able to stop several “bad things” with the holster before needing the hammer. I buy fire extinguishers, I wear a cellphone, and I call 911 with my left hand while sweeping my holster on the right.


lol Bill… Mike is a retired LE Officer as am I. We’re not fearful of anything. Just prepared, just as many others are in this dangerous age. I just retired in northern CA and have been in every trailer and RV park in mine and surrounding counties thousands of times in my career. Just as much crime occurs in both these days as in the rest of the community. If someone comes knocking on my door at 2am or tries to harm or steal from me or anybody in my vicinity, they’ll have a patient but dangerous ex-cop to deal… Read more »

Bob p

Good by


Just be careful where you travel then. The discussion here addressing safety is very real. Grocery store parking lots, rest stops, resturants, etc. can be and are in NM very real locations of violent crime! Stay safe, but don’t bury your head in the sand. I am a CC 64 yr. old woman who will not be a target if I can help it. Carol U.


Honestly people, I’m hoping that RV Travel doesn’t need to be participate in a propagation of fear in our chosen relaxed lifestyle of RV travel. I’m writing this from central Mexico where I don’t have any personal safety fears and where I suspect many of the readers wouldn’t even consider traveling. Life is too short to live in fear based on the actions of a small minority of the population. I, too, am a retired police officer but have learned to develop a common sense approach to manage our innate human fears of safety. I hope that people can take… Read more »


My husband has mentioned carrying a weapon while travelling. This topic would be appreciated. Since the question of what I would do should someone knock on my door in the middle of the night is posed, now I will make a plan of action. We too have dogs who alert us of anyone or thing before they even reach our door. The dogs (115lbs) with great guarding instincts are deterrents, but a plan beyond that is a good idea. Knowing what to do in a situation is how I remain calm.

Patrick Granahan

I am 72 years of age. I have had a concealed handgun carry permit for all of my adult life. I have never drawn or fired my handgun in a life threatening situation. Without going into detail my training in the use of a hand gun in a life threatening situation is simple….”draw your weapon only to shoot it….shoot to kill…a wounded assailant can still kill you.”…… Very serious language and worthy of some thought. The decision to carry a handgun should not be taken lightly. The use of a handgun comes with a lot of rules. You cannot use… Read more »

Len Strozier

Very grateful for this topic … Thank you!


We have traveled in a motor home now for 16 years. We have carried all those years. Just my wife and I. Only once have we ever had to (show) we had a weapon and yes it was a late night pounding at the door. I was able to defuse the situation with friendly conversation but not sure what would have happened if we were not armed. The last thing I’d ever want to do is have to shot someone but to protect my family I like having that option. I do carry bear spray also. But odds are for… Read more »

Robert Peavey

I spent 26 years in federal law enforcement and used countless varieties of firearms during the entire period. I do not cast judgment on a person’s decision to carry a firearm, concealed or not, authorized or not. It typically does no good to offer advice to those not asking for it. However, as an RV owner who travels a lot, I can share a perspective about moving around multiple jurisdictions with a firearm and some of the realties of pulling out a loaded gun when under perceived duress. First, unless you are a seriously experienced user of firearms and have… Read more »


Great read. Common sense and. Control of emotions is a must.

Len Strozier

Bravo…points well taken. Thank you…


Thank you for the sound words and advice. This is such a personal choice that requires work to understand and respect the laws and consequences of one”s choice.


Good read, even if I disagree with some of the opinion parts. You are dead-on that stressfire is RADICALLY different than shooting paper while cracking jokes with your buddies. Train for it as long and hard as you can — threat avoidance, soul-searching for what you’ll do when, instinct shooting, reloading, etc. And yes, much of that will go out the window in a “live threat” situation. Yes, don’t assume every loud noise at night is a threat. Cars backfire, rangers knock on doors for various reasons, etc… I think 99.9% of folks know that and won’t just shoot the… Read more »

Robert Peavey

Actually, I did NOT state that most gun owners were more of a danger than the help on its way. What I stated was that trained and thoughtful gun owners were in better standing, but for all others (those gun owners who are untrained and not emotionally prepared to fire a weapon under duress) are more of a danger to themselves and others. The same consideration applies to storing loaded weapons. I would match my marksmanship skills and ability to use a weapon under stressful conditions, up against anybody else’s. However, MY choice is to separate the gun from the… Read more »


I think you may have missed that I agreed/echoed most of what you said. If you said “untrained is worse than trained; folks REALLY need training and realistic expectations of your own performance under stress,” I’d totally agree with you. It sounded to me like you were saying minimally trained is worse than no firearm at all — which would be false. ***Yes, “bought it and put it in the drawer” is a really dangerous practice overall, but novice defenders still statistically defend themselves far more often than harming themselves/innocents***. Maybe I misunderstood your comment? If I’d never activated a… Read more »


Thank you for your perspective on this emotional topic. It was very helpful in helping me to decide not to carry!

Tim Moores

The idea of a ricochet in an rv is silly. A bullet from a high powered weapon will go clean through anything in an rv from one end to the other. The scary part would be if a bullet hit a propane tank.

Robert Peavey

Tim, Generally, I would agree that a shot fired in an RV would go through the walls easily, but I was really referring to metal items that we position inside the RVs can often interfere with the ballistics of a round. In July of 2012, a 13 year old girl from Wisconsin was hit in the shoulder when her father accidentally discharged a weapon in a Fleetwood Motorhome. The round hit a pressure cooker on the counter and ricocheted into her shoulder. The father was not familiar enough with the weapon when he discharged the round. His daughter is fine… Read more »


Robert, The one thing that people must realize, just owning a GUN is not enough. You must become familiar with it and get properly trained on using it. Plus, go out and practice using it at a Range or Gun Club someplace. I say this, because many people go to their local gun shop, purchase a weapon and then never learn how to use it or even how it works. Ask questions, and keep all weapons out of reach of children. Guns are nothing more than TOOLS and as gun owners will tell you, you need to know how to… Read more »


Wait, Jeff… The news tells me that guns jump off tables and go on rampages all by themselves! Are you saying you need to train your rabid maniacal gun to behave itself? No one told me that! And accuracy?!?!? Hollywood insists that a total novice can locate all the controls, pull back a heavy slide and make olympic level shot placements in complete darkness!! Are you telling us that isn’t completely true??? I’m shocked… truly shocked… OK, true story — THIS WEEK, I trained a small lady and loaned her a thin-frame sidearm I haven’t used in a while. I… Read more »

Tom Rastall

A few years ago while visiting a park in Apache Junction. AZ we were almost robbed by three young men while out for a walk out side the park. I made sure they got a good look at my 380 sticking out of my pocket. They said something in Spanish and gave us a wide birth.

p. crawford

mike, while i appreciate your opinion, i suspect that they are the logical result of your experience in a career of law enforcement (which i also appreciate and thank you). i travel solo and only have myself to worry about. if camping becomes a reversal back to the “wild west” with armed campers to protect themselves against the bad guys (presumably armed as well) i’ll simply give it up. feeling a fear that results in thoughts of arming myself runs completely counter to what attracts me to travel and experiencing nature in new places. today there are too many places… Read more »

Tom Rastall

I bet you are from California?


I think that was an unfair shot Tom. Not all pacifists and anti gunners are from California. Look at the laws in New York and New Jersey. I carry in California lawfully as do many in my family. I don’t agree with the direction the political process is taking in California so I’m doing what I can to change it. It an up hill battle but education is the most important part of that. Yah don’t know what yah don’t know.

Tom Rastall

Sorry, you are right.

Robert Peavey

Good on you for extending an apology.

Greg Illes

Mike, I am absolutely thrilled that you and RVTravel have decided to create this series. I’m really looking forward to it. Lately, I’ve (re-)done some “light” research, and discovered (for example) that it’s completely legal to carry a rifle or shotgun in your RV in a National Park — but NOT bear spray or even a slingshot or BB gun. I don’t think they’ve outlawed Maglite flashlights yet, but you never know. I know that burrowing into legal issues can take us down an endless rathole, and we have to be cautious about too much detail. But it’s still a… Read more »

Terry O'Keefe

we have bear spray,and two 80 pound dogs that are a little funny about anyone that would bother their humans…I am good enough for now

Timothy Detiveaux

My wife and I both have concealed carry permits. I check states reciprocal laws before my trips. I also may contact the State Police for clarification. I only travel to states that allow me to carry. If banging at 2 am happens I would definitely be prepared to defend myself but aware that it could be someone trying to alert us with a good reason.

Lloyd Rauschkolb

What do you do with your weapon when you find yourself needing to drive through a state that prohibits you having a firearm in your RV? Do you take the long way around that state thereby wasting time and fuel? Do you sell your firearm before you go through the offending state and buy a new one when you get to the next state that allows you to have a firearm in your RV. It is time that all states comply with our constitutional right to own and bear arms!


Peaceable Journey law allows you to transport your firearm across hostile states 1) Unloaded, 2) Locked into separate cases, 3) Out of reach of occupants. You must be legal at your start and destination states. You can’t remotely carry on your person or stop overly long (aka, you must be driving through, not visiting). You might send a letter to the governor of each state telling them how many gas stations, restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, etc you did NOT visit due to the state being hostile to your safety and requiring you to leave ASAP. With enough letters, maybe idiots… Read more »


I know this is a VERY Sensitive issue and will not identify the fact if I carry or not! I will say that those persons who do carry should NOT identify that fact online in any open forum, such as RV Travel. Just not a good idea.

As for using Bear Spray, well that is another issue! Using a chemical agent to repel a potential intruder or criminal, could end with BAD consequences for the VICTIM and not the criminal! So, that course of action, should be limited!


Since this is about self protection and not just guns, it might be wise to consider other means as well.
Bear Spray is one example: You always have a reason to have it, no one (except maybe a full on Cajun) is going to want a second dose, It is easier to make the decision to shoot, as it is non-lethal, which could save a second or two, and possibly your life.
Bear Spray is 50 state legal and likely even OK in Canada.


All my hoplophobic friends have very dirty ovens. I don’t know why, but their ovens get dirty so fast it’s necessary to keep a can of EasyOff handy nearby. Sometimes they remember the oven needs cleaning when they are in bed, so an extra one goes in the nightstand. I think if a nasty predator was to kick in their door, they might become so addled that they’d grab whatever aerosol can was handy before they had a chance to even read the warning labels. Or, they might swing grammas cast iron skillet before considering how the predators hair could… Read more »

Chuck Woodbury

Wolfe, please keep the sarcasm out of your comments. We appreciate your input, but don’t belittle others whose opinions differ from yours. That isn’t the way it works on this website.


I wasn’t being sarcastic or mocking at all. It’s actually a schtick I do in my safety classes for folks who DON’T want guns themselves (a fine choice!). Read it as if talking to an officer investigating your break-in: “I didn’t know it was illegal to use oven spray defensively, I just grabbed what I had handy…”


My response to someone at the door will be with a lead filled tire thumper an a large can of bear spray. I know it isn’t any match to a gun but I am going down fighting. Since 48% are carrying I will be more respectful. That’s all I’ve got.


As a CCL holder in FL, IL and UT I am very curious as to how many and what types of weapons most RV owners use. We just purchased our first gently used Montana and will be heading out this summer.


Glad to have you on board with RV Travel. I 100% agree with you that being prepared for any situation is of the utmost importance especially if you are traveling with children. Their protection is the top of my list and I will always take what ever measures needed. Thanks for joining a great team.

James Wiles

I have been pursuing this subject for many years with Winter Texans that stay in the RGV every winter. I teach Texas Conceal Carry and promote situational awareness as the most important part of self protection. No matter where you live I believe in conceal carry permits and am glad Texas has a great program for Winter Texans. I also teach what to do after you have a firearm encounter and how to respond to official response to the scene of a incident.

A. W. Walker

James, two valuable and very worthwhile subjects; I’d like to know more detaile from you, Mike or other. What do LEOs and experts generally recommend a citizen do after a firearm encounter?


Don’t meet the police with sidearm in hand — LEO doesn’t know you’re not the perp. If you’ve called 911, give a distinct BODY description of yourself (not a hat the perp can take). If you had to draw, that’s “brandishing” even if you didn’t fire. You’ll be investigated as to “justifiable.” If you had to fire, that’s “assault” or “manslaughter” with a firearm. You’ll be investigated as to “justifiable.” Towards the last two points; defensive use is treated as you being the aggressor until proven otherwise — your ONLY words to the police should be “Thank you for coming;… Read more »

Richard Kuhwarth

I recall several years ago reading a posting on iRV2 by a sheriff. His advice was if you are going to carry a firearm in your RV, carry a shotgun. You don’t need a concealed weapons permit to carry it, and you would have good reason to have the gun with you if you have a valid bird hunting license from your home state. Also, there is nothing more intimidating than the sound of a round being chambered in a shotgun. If any of you read the Sue Henry misteries of a few years ago, remember that she always carried… Read more »

Tommy Molnar

I remember going into a gun shop years ago and discussing self-defence firearms with the owner. He said the mere sound of a 12 gauge shotgun cycling is enough to scare most ‘bad guys’ away. He also said it’s a sound universally recognized the world over.

Dick Hime

Mike, as a former LEO and current personal security consultant and firearms instructor I am so looking forward to reading your articles. I should probably warn you that I will likely submit frequent comments! But they will always be constructive, polite, and backed with hard-won wisdom and experience. We’ve been RV owners for 40+ years. This is such an important topic and there so many “so called experts” in the field of self-defense anymore that I cringe at what some of my clients and students share with me regarding what they believe or what they’ve been told or taught. I… Read more »

Mike Sherman

Thank you for your kind words Dick. I am by no means an expert and wanted to simply get people to think about their own safety without going deep into the legal aspects. There are plenty of resources available for that. Folks should do their homework and make decisions based on what they are comfortable with. Please contribute your insights whenever possible.