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Have Gun - Will Travel?

April 18, 2023
Mike Sampson

Those Gun Talk readers old enough may remember the CBS TV western show “Have Gun—Will Travel,” that first aired Sept. 14, 1957, and ran through 1963.

Starring Richard Boone as Paladin, “the man in black” had a business card with a chess figure and the series title. The program was on my weekly to-watch list on our small-screen black and white TV set.  The theme song billed the 1870s mercenary Paladin as “a knight without armor in a savage land.” Reruns sometimes circulate on some cable channels.

In 1957, carrying a sidearm, especially out of state, was almost unthinkable. But now, how things have changed for the benefit of those who choose to carry.

On July 1, Florida will be the 26th state to authorize Constitutional (permitless) carry. In 2018, my state of Arkansas clarified a law allowing permitless carry. I’ve lived and worked in other permitless-carry states, but my travel needs always pointed to getting my home state’s CCW for reasons of reciprocity.

A recent business trip meant traveling through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana to reach Louisville, KY.  Before traveling through or to another state, I always check to make sure I am in compliance with state firearms laws and reciprocity with my Arkansas CCW.

Based on the state’s firearms restrictions, I thoroughly dislike travel in Illinois and even try not to buy gas there. Unfortunately, my travel through Illinois is the fastest route.

Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky are permitless-carry states and all honor my Arkansas CCW, but Illinois does not recognize any other state’s CCW permit.

Gun Talk readers know Illinois is not firearms friendly and as of January this year became the ninth state, along with Washington, D.C., to ban “assault weapons.” That Illinois law is under court challenge now.

Under the current Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act, a nonresident traveler transporting a firearm in a vehicle is allowed to do so if the firearm remains in the vehicle and the person:

(1)   is not prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under federal law;

(2)   is eligible to carry a firearm in public under the laws of his or her state or territory of residence, as evidenced by the possession of a concealed carry license or permit issued by his or her state of residence, if applicable, and

(3)  is not in possession of a license under this Act. If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended, he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or locked container within the vehicle in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.

What this means is, if you have a CCW permit from another state and are not otherwise prohibited from owning a firearm, you can conceal your weapon in your vehicle while driving in Illinois. Do not step out of your vehicle with a loaded firearm, for a snack, for fuel or at a rest stop.

I’m not always able to make it through Illinois with my coffee consumption, so disarming for a rest stop and locking my sidearm in the SUV is a must for compliance. Not a choice I relish.

Currently in Illinois “If you are traveling and don’t have a permit/license from your state of residence you can transport the firearm unloaded and secured in a case in the trunk or in the back of an SUV. You must be able to legally possess the firearm in your state of residence. You can take it into your motel/hotel room if they don’t ban firearms.”

I’m guessing the only way one legally can take a firearm to a motel room is if the weapon is “secured in a case.” This of course depends on whether or not the lodging even permits firearms.

Illinois does not have “stand your ground.” It does have “castle doctrine,” but that may apply only in one’s home. Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/7-2 allows for the use of force against trespassers to keep them from unlawfully entering a dwelling. So is a rented room a “dwelling?”

A companion statute 720 ILCS 5/7-1 describes “use of force” for defense. I’m not a legal eagle or wanting to test state laws, but all of this sounds like a good reason not to patronize lodging or have to defend oneself in Illinois.

If stopped by law enforcement in Illinois, you are not required to disclose your weapon unless asked. I focused on Illinois in this article because of its restrictive firearms laws, but we all know ignorance is no excuse. “A peaceable journey” through the state could put you in a world of hurt.

I’ve written often that Gun Talk readers must stay current on state laws, and interstate travel creates an additional need to do so. The Illinois law has updated to at least recognize a CCW permit from another state, although still limiting.

With the Democrats choosing Chicago over Atlanta for their August convention, safety and “gun violence” must not be an issue there. Security should be interesting especially if one remembers the Chicago 1968 convention with some 650 Vietnam War protesters, arrests and violence.

Bottom line if you want to Stay safe, be prepared and have gun—will travel, know the laws and consider how a CCW from your state can help. ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training. In addition to work as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, he has experience in journalism, crop and animal agriculture, dryland farming for 20 years in western Kansas, plant and animal diseases, pandemic influenza, agroterrorism, bioterrorism, food safety and healthcare marketing.

He has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and has newspaper and agency writing and editing experience. At Washington State University in Pullman, he earned a master’s degree emphasizing adult education and communications.

While living in Lander, WY, Mike provided photographic coverage of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt for three years, and got to meet and accompany folks such as Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, Buzz Aldrin, Dale Robertson and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on their hunts. He also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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