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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7 months ago

It would be interesting to do another survey in 2020! With all the gun-grabbers around, the “always carry” might increase.

7 months ago

If someone bangs on one’s RV door and eventually breaks in and assaults, I’m certain one would do something to protect oneself…hit with one’s fists ( a weapon), kick with one’s feet (a weapon), bite with one’s teeth (a weapon), strike with a baseball bat (a weapon), and so on. I do not question what form or item of self defense one chooses to use. Please don’t question mine.

Bill & Judy Frank
7 months ago

We all need to respect each other’s opinion without casting blame or labeling anyone. Just a couple of comments regarding carrying a firearm on your person or in your RV. If you avail yourself of a firearm, have the commitment to yourself and fellow citizens to seek professional instruction, practice on a regular basis and maintain proficiency. If you choose not to have a firearm, fine. Chances are someone close by will have one to provide safety for you while you wait for authorities. Maybe they will place themselves in harm’s way to come to your aid. If not, you have exercised your freedom of choice and have no one to answer to but yourself. Whatever your choice, situational awareness is of utmost importance where ever you find yourself. Be safe and watch out for each other.

Thomas Caro
7 months ago

If I am asked if I have a weapon my answer almost always has to be “NO – I have not used anything to destroy, injure or defeat”. According to Webster’s dictionary a weapon is something that is used to injure, defeat or destroy. If I have a baseball bat and hit you with it it is a weapon otherwise it is just a baseball bat.
The same goes for a rifle or pistol…they are NOT weapons unless used to injure, defeat or destroy.
So I am respectfully asking that we use the proper terminology. This will help with educating the gun control groups especially when talking about any rifle or pistol and the so called “Assault Weapons”.
Little things make a difference.

Brian S. Holmes
8 months ago

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.

8 months ago

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

Ralph Pinney
8 months ago

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.


1 year ago

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”.

Chuck Woodbury (@chuck)
1 year ago
Reply to  Keith

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.

Mike Sherman
8 months ago
Reply to  Keith

Keith, you are indeed fortunate.

1 year ago

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
1 year ago

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.

Hit The Road
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Osborn

It does not need to be in a safe, but it does need to be unloaded and the ammo separate from the weapon. I was pulled over by the CHP near Barstow. I had an unloaded weapon laying next to me on the passenger seat in plain view. When I stopped my car, I turned on the interior lights, rolled all the windows down and put my hands on the steering wheel. The Officer came up on the passenger side and asked me if I knew why he stopped me. I said before you start, I have a gun laying on the seat. He took it, asked me if it was loaded, (it was not, the clip was in the trunk), and asked me why I had it. I said I’m driving to Florida and want some backup. He said ok, put the gun back on the seat, and told me to put on my front license plate when I get home. I said ok and that was that. Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous as hell and don’t think I would do that again, I’ll keep it in the trunk!

7 months ago
Reply to  Hit The Road

Magazine, not “clip”.

Scott Ellis
1 year ago

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.

1 year ago

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.
1 year ago

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)

1 year ago

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

Lloyd Rauschkolb
1 year ago

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.

1 year ago

Well said Lloyd

Dawn Warner
1 year ago

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
1 year ago

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?

1 year ago

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 miss, even a JHP would overpenetrate several RV walls before stopping so I don’t think they are magically safer.

DO NOT EVER CARRY RELOADED AMMO. Even if you’ve done nothing to make it more lethal, a prosecutor WILL try to make that argument. Just don’t.

Round-nose ammo is the worst for overpenetrating. SWC/Wad cutter (flat target ammo) is better, but still inappropriate, and “looks weird” to an ignorant prosecutor.

Jacketed hollow-point is the standard defense round (mushrooms for effect and non-overpenetration but doesn’t come apart — some are scored to open reliably but still not meant to detach).

I think what you’re asking about are segmented, multi-core, toothy “pin grabber” types of ammo — which are a legal quagmire as they “look scary” to the same sort that think black guns are more dangerous. In my informal testing and scientific understanding, coming apart makes it a PITA in the ER, but doesn’t actually increase stopping power. Lots of little holes aren’t that much more effective than one big hydroshock-cavity. Creating shrapnel in a body or spraying through the next room isn’t really an advantage IMHO.

FInally, there are oddball “safety” rounds like jacketed birdshot. The theory here is that they come apart REALLY fast when they hit anything. In theory, they won’t overpenetrate two normal drywall panels (dubious against RV cardboard walls), but should still penetrate perp’s clothing. I can’t say their effectiveness defensively, but I’d imagine the same legal exaggeration and medical PITA concerns apply.

Boy have we gotten beyond the original article… !

Mike Sherman
1 year ago

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
1 year ago

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?

1 year ago

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