Author Topic: carrying a firearm on a tour  (Read 3339 times)

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Offline bikersbishop

carrying a firearm on a tour
« on: February 25, 2021, 02:06:22 pm »
I know nothing about guns other than what I learn from the Internet. And I ask this question merely as an author working on a novel. I'm wondering about carrying a firearm on a bicycle tour. It seems like a reasonable safety precaution when traveling in a remote area--or in an urban jungle (e.g., defense against wildlife, even two-legged ones). But it also seems problematic for a few reasons: 1) what cyclist wants to strap a firearm to their body while cycling? Stowing it away may mean deciding to leave it unattended when off the bike for pitstops, leaving it more susceptible to theft; 2) running afoul of gun laws (lack of reciprocity) when crossing state lines; and I suppose even 3) why carry the extra weight?

If you chose to take a firearm on a tour, would you stow it away and take your chances or would you keep it with you at all times?

I've purposely asked the question as a hypothetical, but would also welcome your actual experience if you care to share it.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2021, 02:38:08 pm »
Never - too many state laws to deal with not to mention the lack of need and the weight of ammo. Do NOT carry a weapon unless you are willing to use it or it will be used on you. Massachusetts has mandatory jail time for carrying an unlicensed weapon. The cons are endless, cannot think of a single pro.
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline aggie

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2021, 02:44:49 pm »
Too many chances to wind up in jail with no real benefit.

Offline ray b

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2021, 03:05:48 pm »
A question many have wrestled with. In the end, it's probably not worth the weight, as risks usually outweigh any theoretical benefit. I know some police officers who wear lycra and pistols while riding, but like a lot of good police officers, they've made enough enemies that they believe they need to carry as much deterrence as possible.

Non-lethal force for animals is discouraged. (See posts on how to handle dogs.) If pepper spray can stop a run at you by a grizzly bear better than a hand gun - well - 'nuf said.

As regards your reference to complex, 2-legged animals, I approach the question in terms of use of a firearm as extension of other martial arts. It is always a last resort. You might find the presence of your gun hampers de-escalation of a situation through your other skills.

I'll note, I did have a hunting rifle pointed at me by a drunk while sitting out a rainstorm at night in Oklahoma during a cross-country trip in 1979. A little talking to eliminate his view of me as a threat went a long way to de-escalate the situation. If I had tried to utilize a weapon, I would have been shot.

Any time you use the word gun, you'll generate a lot of discussion. My premises follow:

1. Guns are not always effective. Training, training, and more training can make them more effective, but limitations of "stopping" power of handguns are obvious.
2. One would need to wear his or her weapon - heavy and sweaty. I've used a TDI fanny pack in the past for a G19, but it leaves a big wet spot.
3. Guns can be taken away. Weapons retention training will teach you how to take someone else's weapon and why your weapon might not be secure.
4. Chances of a situation progressing to use of deadly force increases if you are obviously armed.
5. If someone in a vehicle wants to do you bodily harm, a weapon will not help.
6. If you shoot someone, you will be arrested and even if not guilty of a crime, you will likely be sued in a jurisdiction a long way from home.

In the end, I added up all the miles cyclists have travelled unarmed and without incident in the context of almost non-existent stories of intentional bodily harm outside of injuries caused by motor vehicles, and realized that risk of deadly harm in an altercation while touring on a bicycle is miniscule.

I guess, touring cyclists do not appear threatening, haughty, rich, or even good to eat....


« Last Edit: February 25, 2021, 04:13:19 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline John Nettles

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2021, 03:59:38 pm »
I personally do not carry a gun nor would I probably because I do not want the extra weight/hassle.

That said, I regularly tour with a buddy who always carries, even on day rides.  He uses a fanny pack to carry the gun.  His gun is a titanium revolver (don't know brand or model) but even then weighs something like 28oz+ loaded.  He trains about every other week, knows the gun laws inside and out, and has not used it luckily.  I am pretty sure he has drawn the weapon once when surrounded by a pack of feral dogs.  Did not shoot but came mighty close.  His thought that if they came within a legs length, that was the line since if they attacked and got him to the ground, he was toast.  Better them than me is his philosophy. He is not a gun nut.  You would not suspect he is carrying.  He just wants to have it for personal protection. 

Offline TCS

"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline John Nelson

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2021, 07:32:46 pm »
This has been oft discussed. In my opinion, people who consider taking a firearm overestimate the risk of touring. If you carry a firearm when grocery shopping, then I'm sure nothing will talk you out of taking one on tour. If you do, keep it with you at all times, even when you go to the shower, the same way you keep your wallet and phone with you at all times. Most people do this by putting all this stuff in their handlebar bag.

Offline ray b

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2021, 10:36:28 pm »
I know nothing about guns other than what I learn from the Internet. And I ask this question merely as an author working on a novel.
....but you are right to ask and sample opinion. I've heard from one of the crime noir authors I know, that a sure way to draw critiicism to your work is to make a mistake about guns or gun fights.

If you've been writing for a while, you probably have some expert consultants you can use. If not,  you might hit up a trainer in your region and perhaps a well-trained cyclist who carries a weapon.  Most of these folks will usually consult for the cost of a dinner and proof your fight scenes for you.

It strikes me that John's buddy sounds like a thoughtful expert and a colorful character from a novel just waiting to be written..... The only problem with these guys in real life is that they don't exude a lot of emtional energy in confrontation.  If you're going to write the scene with Sly Stallone in mind as the aging cyclist, the entire pack of dogs will have to go down in a hail of bullets (except for the little one that finds a new home and security in his handlebar bag).  :)

Have fun with this. Never enough novels with cyclists as the protagonists. Good luck and keep us posted.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2021, 10:39:15 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline BikePacker

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2021, 07:47:27 am »
It seems like a reasonable safety precaution * when traveling in a remote area--or in an urban jungle (e.g., defense against wildlife, even two-legged ones).
For me, I only tote bear f-o-g-g-e-r.
No firearm.
Always one in handle bar bag.
If I sense a particular venue is *'risky,'
I bring out a 2nd and wear it on my hip.

Offline staehpj1

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2021, 08:24:30 am »
Very few bike tourists openly say they carry a firearm.  Of the ones who mention their preference most see no need.  Of the many bike tourists that I know none have told me that they carry a firearm even the ones that know I own firearms and have a permit to carry.  It could be some carry and keep it to themselves though.

Personally I have a permit to carry, but do not carry when on tour.  My reasons:
  • I really don't feel a need
  • It would be a hassle to have it readily available when needed
  • It is illegal to take inside federal buildings that includes post office, national park and national forest offices, and so on.
  • Leaving it outside on a bike is a big problem IMO
  • Guns and ammo are heavy and I am a gram counter
  • Not all states have reciprocity agreements with my state on the carry permit.  For the most part the states I tour in I guess it would usually be manageable though, just ineffective.  I'd have to unload it and pack it away in some states and avoid a few others.

FWIW, for those who feel the need to thread the needle on legal issue there are phone apps that have the state and federal laws listed.  I think one that I have used when traveling by car or public transit with firearms was called "legal heat".  That one or others like it might be useful if you need to look up local laws in your research.

All that said the bottom line is probably that guns and bike touring generally don't intersect much.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2021, 08:28:03 am by staehpj1 »

Offline TCS

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2021, 08:52:11 am »
Not really what our novelist is pursuing, but in the old days of cycletouring (1890~1920s) there were special cycling handguns made and marketed, known as velodog revolvers (search term).  They were little things, styled smooth and snag-free, typically five low-power shots, double action with internal hammers, and sometimes had the addition of a grip safety.  You can guess from the name they were intended for defensive use in the case of animal attacks, although I did see a period advertisement suggesting "protection for ladies against vagabonds and tramps".

This era was also the golden age of 'takedown' rifles and shotguns, usually separating the barrel and foregrip from the action and stock in some ingenious way.  These were designed and intended to be transported in fitted leather sleeves by bicycle to and from local hunting spots.  Some were even advertised as bicycle rifles (search term).  A few are still made, although it's been nearly a century since they were advertised as convenient for cycle transportation.
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline canalligators

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2021, 09:41:06 am »
Staehpj1 summarizes well.  I add one more reason: if you end up using the weapon, assume your life savings will all be going to your legal defense.  Either to clear yourself from criminal prosecution (establish self defense) or from civil suits.

The risk/benefit tradeoff, to me, just isn’t worth it.

Offline TCS

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2021, 12:52:07 pm »
I'm wondering about carrying a firearm on a bicycle tour. It seems like a reasonable safety precaution when traveling...

Based on decades of cycletouring experience and reading a gazillion travelogs/journals, I have a solid opinion that a rider is several orders of magnitude more likely to be run over by a motor vehicle operator than have to defend themselves against a deadly force attack which came about despite situational awareness and offered no path to de-escalation or retreat.

To paraphrase The Godfather, 'Leave the gun.  Take the Garmin Varia.'




Okay, I know novels are often about extraordinary situations.  Novelists search for stress/conflict/resolution.  Okay, my hypothetical character would carry a Kel Tec P32 (10 oz loaded) in a fitted, lightly padded square pouch (so the outline of the pistol didn't 'print') in their middle rear jersey pocket or cargo shorts pocket.  Accessible, but not 'quick draw'.  I don't know if you're plotting a situation where the character would use the firearm, but my character would be stressed to be armed when provided a lovely meal by road angel pacifists (holistic monks?) who don't know (oh, bad juju).  My character would have to turn around and walk away from the entrance of a much-anticipated museum when they saw there was a metal detector at the door (ah, there's a price to be paid).
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline staehpj1

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2021, 04:53:47 pm »
Two things I forgot to mention:
  • Carrying a fiream quickly becomes awkward when invited to stay with hosts.  I know that I'd feel obligated to mention it when bringing a gun into someone's home.  Not a conversation I really want to have when being offered hospitality.
  • If you use a gun out on the empty road somewhere miles from nowhere, either as a threat or to actually shoot someone, you are vulnerable to the return of the "bad guys" who might well come back for revenge.  You could be run down by motor vehicle, shot, or whatever since at that point they have the upper hand.

Offline bikersbishop

Re: carrying a firearm on a tour
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2021, 12:18:03 am »
You all have been super with your feedback. Thank you so much for your input.

Traveling alone on a recumbent, my character leaves town in a depressed state of mind. So his gun could either extend his life or shorten it. Currently, I have it packed in a pannier, but now I'm considering stowing the gun in a belt bag. He sees himself as a law-abiding citizen and respectful of other people, but that will be hard to maintain as he crosses state lines and ventures onto people's property. You've given me plenty to consider. Thank you again.