Can you bring a gun into a hotel?
It’s a common question with potentially huge legal ramifications.
In this article, I won’t be offering any legal advice but I’ll give you some insight into the question so that you’ll be able to arrive at a well-informed decision for yourself.
Can you bring a gun into a hotel?
Whether or not you can bring a gun into a hotel depends on state laws and on the individual hotel’s policy. For this reason, it’s hard to provide specific guidance on this question.
However, we have provided some general guidance below that will prime you about different factors to consider.
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Federal, state, and local laws
Gun laws can vary dramatically between states and many (or maybe even most) firearm statutes don’t specifically mention the rules for guns in hotels.
Instead, you often find the word “residence” used.
Many states will allow you to lawfully possess a gun within a residence and a hotel may be considered a temporary residence.
For example, take a look at the law in California:
Nothing in Section 25850 shall prevent any person from having a loaded weapon, if it is otherwise lawful, at the person’s place of residence, including any temporary residence or campsite.
Something super important to point out is that when you’re talking about a hotel qualifying as a temporary residence, you’re talking about the hotel room you’re staying in and not the hotel itself.
So for example, you may be able to lawfully possess a loaded gun inside your hotel room but not when walking through the hallways, the lobby, the pool, or any of the other common areas.
You’ll also want to verify that you can have the gun loaded inside your hotel room which might be the case if the hotel room is considered a qualifying residence.
You also want to pay attention to how concealed carry and open carry laws apply to areas outside of the residence.
Hotel gun policies
Assuming that you are not violating any criminal statutes when bringing a gun to a hotel, you still are not in the clear until you know for a fact that the hotel permits guns on its premises.
Some hotel chains might ban weapons across all properties. For example, this is the approach MGM has adopted.
Other times, it will come down to what individual properties decide is best.
For example, the Downtown Courtyard by Marriott in Grand Rapids, MI, has a clear policy that they do not allow weapons on the property:
The Downtown Courtyard by Marriott prohibits persons from carrying or otherwise possessing a firearm on hotel property, including carrying firearms in an open or concealed manner. This policy applies to all firearms, regardless of whether the firearm is a handgun or a long-barreled gun.
Some hotels may have a protocol and will allow you to store your firearm with them as long as it is properly registered.
For example, you might “turn in” your weapon to the hotel security and then retrieve the weapon whenever you check out.
To find out what the hotel’s policies is, it’s best to just call ahead and ask to speak to a manager.
You might also find signs on the doors indicating the gun policy but at that point it’s probably too late for you to make any adjustments.
Leaving your gun behind
A lot of gun owners think it’s a bad idea to leave your gun unattended in a hotel room.
One of the main reasons is the risk of theft.
But there’s also the risk that someone could get a hold of the gun and do something stupid and/or against the law and you will be “involved” with that to at least some degree.
You could look into storing your gun in the hotel safe if you trust that. Generally, the hotel safe provides an extra layer of security for your valuables but it is far from a full-proof system.
If you do choose to store your gun in the hotel room, the best advice is to remove all ammunition and store the gun in a hard-sided, locked container.
You can treat it similar to how you would when transporting a gun on a plane.
Some hotels may provide you with specific guidance on storing your firearm such as the Hilton Hampton Inn which states:
Any guest or visitor who is in possession of a firearm on hotel premises is personally responsible for abiding by all applicable federal, state and local laws with respect to firearms, in the jurisdiction where the hotel is located and ensuring that the firearm is:
– secured in a locked, hard-sided firearm container provided by the guest; and
– securely safeguarded at all times in a guest room (or personal vehicle), except when transporting the firearm into or out of the hotel.
If you don’t want to keep the gun in your room, another option would be to simply store your weapon inside your vehicle in the parking lot, again utilizing a locked container (preferably one with hard sides).
You also need to comply with other legal requirements which may require you to hide the weapon and or store it unloaded.
However, many people would consider that to be even more accessible to thieves. Also, if a valet driver were to find it and suspect something, you might find yourself in an unwanted interrogation.
What if you get caught?
If a hotel were to find out that you had a gun on the premises and they explicitly prohibit weapons, you could find yourself in a tricky situation.
Typically, you would be asked to leave and only if you refused to leave should there be any major problem.
But, even if you are willing to comply it could still get messy.
Someone could spot you with a firearm and report you to security or to law enforcement. You could be mistaken as someone there to cause trouble or physical harm.
All it takes is one person to overreact for a big scene to play out.
The concern over a public freak out is probably exacerbated when you are talking about long-barrel guns such as rifles.
It might be really frustrating to have so many people worry about a gun that you are lawfully permitted to own and carry but it’s hard to blame people after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017 (and all of the mass shootings that occur in general).
Many people have come to associate guns in hotels with the potential threat of a mass shooting and even if you think people are being overly paranoid, getting accused of being a mass shooter is a situation that you surely want to avoid at all costs.
Transporting a gun to and from the hotel
Assuming that you are permitted to bring a gun into a hotel room by the hotel and federal, state, and local law, you’ll need to think about how to legally transport the gun to and from the hotel.
For example, you might be required to carry the gun unloaded in a locked case to and from your vehicle.
You also might need to avoid certain areas within the hotel when walking about with the firearm on your person.
One area where you really need to be careful when making your way through a hotel is the bar area since there are often strict laws against bringing firearms into bars or places that serve alcohol.
It’s not uncommon for some hotels to have large and open bar areas that are part of the hotel lobby, restaurant, or lounge area.
In some cases, you may not even realize that you actually entered a bar area so you need to be very mindful about your surroundings when strolling through a hotel.
Hotel lounges could also be off-limits because many of them serve alcohol.
And remember, you may only be able to bring the firearm to and from destinations where you are legally authorized to possess.
So for example if you were traveling from your hotel to your house that might be permitted but just taking the gun around with you when heading from the hotel to a nearby restaurant may not be allowed.
Related to that, you may not be allowed to walk around the premises with the weapon on you.
So if you wanted to go for a walk or a jog, you may not be allowed to bring your weapon with you even if you think you might fear for your safety.
Due to the nature of gun laws and hotel policies, it’s hard to know what to expect when trying to bring your firearm to a hotel.
However, you first need to make sure you are not violating the law when transporting a weapon to a hotel and then you need to verify that the hotel will allow you to bring a firearm on the property.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.