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!

As 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!

Mike 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 MikeShermanPI@gmail.com .


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Brian S. Holmes

I really think the overwhelming majority of people that feel the need to carry firearms while camping has missed something growing up from their parents. The need to keep one between the cushions “just in case” really does expel a lot of energy especially with kids around. And most, if the occasion arose, would fumble the situation and YOU could be the one going to jail. As an old combat vet the realities of using a firearm is lost on most here, cause you really don`t have a clue.


Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Ralph Pinney

Morning Mike,
Not sure if you will be getting into this, but one other situation for self defense is while hiking in the forest where bears are present. We will be leaving our cozy Florida campground soon and travel to Alaska where you need to be mindful of bears all the time.

Keep up the good work.



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 off my handguns. I refuse to be ruled by fear or someone else’s “what if’s”.


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 away. Lastly don’t open the door, use a window.

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 carrying a firearm should be struck down.

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?

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.

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 the one time in your life when you really need it to protect yourself, a family member, or even a complete stranger, like Bill, who refuses to consider carrying.
I empathize with many, like Bill, who don’t understand why we carry or can’t become comfortable around guns, but please don’t denigrate those of us who do carry, because one of us may be the one who comes to your rescue someday when you get in trouble.