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Truck drivers go through intense training to learn how to handle bigger rigs. However, one part of the job that many truckers aren’t prepared for is when they need to protect themselves against a dangerous threat, like a thief wanting to do them harm. Can truckers carry guns for self-defense while driving a commercial rig across state lines?

Can trucking be dangerous?

A highway road rage incident closure due to a gun shooting stopping trucker traffic near Wrightwood, California
A highway road rage incident | David McNew/Getty Images

Besides the possibilities of getting into accidents with other motorists and taking damage from extreme storms, the most dangerous part of a truck driver’s job is when they find themselves face to face with someone wanting to do them harm. Thieves are a common work hazard for truckers, especially when they end up in shady areas. 

According to Truck Drivers Academy, many truck drivers haul loads alone, making them more vulnerable to attacks. When thieves come around, truckers need to protect themselves. The question is, how can they do that? The most common piece of equipment a truck has is a dash cam, which is perfect if an accident occurs or if a thief comes by. However, it’s not going to protect the driver.

The first thing that comes to mind when protecting yourself is to use a gun of some type to defend yourself, but can truckers legally carry one?

Are firearms prohibited on commercial trucks?

Regarding federal or state laws, nothing prevents a trucker from carrying a firearm on their commercial truck, provided they keep their documents up to date and always carry their license. This is due to the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act the House of Representatives signed in 2017. Each state has strict laws, though, that must be adhered to. 

For example, you may have to complete a certification course, be of legal age, and pass a background check before obtaining a concealed weapon license. Other states with similar requirements generally accept an out-of-state one if you’re pulled over and the weapon is found. Places like Illinois won’t honor a license from anywhere else. It must be issued by its own government. 

While it’s possible to carry a concealed weapon with the proper documents, the problem begins at the company level, according to U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA). Apparently, many trucking businesses ban firearms from being in the company’s trucks. 

Many people believe these bigger trucking outfits ban guns due to the insurance companies’ policies, rendering the trucks uninsurable, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, as the USCCA reports. A plausible reason why drivers are prohibited from carrying a firearm while on a run is unknown. 

How can truck drivers stay safe?

If your trucking company allows firearms, research the laws of all the states you will be driving through to see what each one requires. You may have to plan your route differently should a state require something you cannot give, like a license with its own government agency. 

If you work for a company that doesn’t allow guns or you get denied a license, there are other weapons you can carry should a situation present itself. Other truckers have used baseball bats, tasers, pocket knives, and pepper spray. 

While you won’t need any licenses to carry these items, you will need to be sure you only use them for self-defense situations. It’s imperative to refrain from using them when you get angry, like in road rage incidents. One trucker was charged with assault when they used insect spray on another motorist that they were angry with.

Having a self-driving truck haul loads would keep drivers safe from attacks, but the technology isn’t quite there yet, and it could cost many truckers a job. If you can carry a gun, check the laws of all the states you’ll be driving through. If firearms aren’t allowed, consider having an alternative solution, just in case you find yourself in a dangerous situation. 


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