Alaska is well known for its open gun laws. In the Frontier State, anyone who 1) is at least 21 years old and 2) may legally possess a firearm is allowed to carry a handgun without a permit, whether openly or concealed. Gun owners moving to Alaska from other states are likely to find a more gun-friendly culture here.
However, when you’re moving with guns, there are some restrictions you should know about, both when transitioning in and out of the state. Additionally, if you’re moving from Alaska to another state, you’ll need to understand how your new state’s gun laws will impact you.
No matter your destination, guns are considered dangerous goods that require special care when relocating. In this article, we’ll take you through what you need to know about owning guns in Alaska and moving them to and from the state.
Additionally, you should know that our experts keep up to date on best practices and regulations for shipping firearms. If you have any questions not answered in this article, feel free to reach out to us to talk about safely transporting your firearms to and from Alaska.
Alaska’s Gun Laws: An Overview
It’s fair to say that gun owners are common in the Frontier State. In fact, at 61.7%, Alaska has the highest gun ownership rate in the United States. Although Montana takes the top spot for the highest estimated gun sales per 1,000 adults, Alaska was a close second with 140.1 guns sold for every 1,000 adults.
Although it’s considered to have some of the country’s most lenient gun laws, Alaska still has rules governing gun ownership in the state. Here’s a quick (but not exhaustive) rundown:
- You don’t need a state permit to purchase or possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun, and you don’t need to register those weapons.
- There is no waiting period to purchase firearms.
- Additionally, there’s no limit to how many firearms you can buy at one time.
- When it comes to background checks:
- Alaska requires federally licensed, but not private, dealers to conduct background checks.
- However, if the purchaser has a NICS-Exempt permit, they are exempt from the federal background check requirement. (To apply for a NICS-Exempt permit, visit the website for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Statewide Services.)
- Alaska’s gun laws do not apply on federal property, including offices, military installations, airport terminal areas and other places under federal jurisdiction. If you plan to bring a firearm with you onto federal property, make sure you talk with the federal agency in charge before you go.
- Finally, Alaska prohibits any type of carry in certain specific locations, including K-12 schools, domestic violence shelters, courts and correctional institutions. Carrying is also prohibited in any place where alcohol is served for on-site consumption, with an exception for restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as one is not consuming alcohol while carrying. You can read the full list of restricted locations here.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a closer look at the state’s stance on concealed carry of handguns.
Understanding Alaska’s Concealed Carry Regulations
When it comes to concealed carry—the carrying of a handgun in public that’s kept hidden on one’s person or in one’s control—Alaska is what’s called a “shall-issue” state. In other words, as long as an applicant passes the basic requirements set out by state law, the issuing authority will issue a concealed carry permit.
In Alaska, if you’re applying for a concealed handgun permit, you must meet several requirements, including being an Alaska resident for more than 90 days. You can view all the requirements on the Alaska Department of Public Safety website.
Considering you don’t need a permit in Alaska to carry a handgun, you might wonder why one might want to apply for one. One reason? Reciprocity. There are 38 other states that recognize Alaska’s concealed handgun permit, allowing you to wear a concealed weapon in those states.
When it comes to the concept of reciprocity, one note: Several states issue concealed carry permits to 18 to 20-year-olds. However, Alaska does not recognize those permits, and no one under 21 is allowed to carry a concealed firearm in Alaska.
Finally, if you do carry a concealed weapon in Alaska, two scenarios you should be aware of:
- Vehicles: When in a vehicle, firearms must be 1) in plain sight or 2) concealed out of reach. If you’re a hunter, it’s a good idea to make sure guns are unloaded when transporting them to the field.
- Law Enforcement: If you encounter a police officer while carrying a concealed weapon in Alaska, you are required by law to tell the officer you have a gun.
Now that you understand the basics of gun laws in Alaska, let’s take a look at how the state compares to the rest of the country—just in case you’re considering a move.
Alaska’s Gun Laws vs. the Rest of the United States
Gun laws vary dramatically across the country. Several other states have enacted laws similar to Alaska’s permitless carry rule, including Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. Idaho, North Dakota, and Wyoming also have permitless carry rules, but only for residents of their states.
In contrast, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, and Illinois have much stricter gun regulations. If you’re moving to one of these states, make sure you do your research to ensure compliance with local regulations. The National Rifle Association website is a good place to start, with up-to-date information on each state.
In addition to state regulations, if you’re planning to drive to or from Alaska, you’ll also need to understand how guns are regulated in Canada for those in transit.
Moving Firearms Through Canada
If you’ve decided to drive to Alaska (or back to the lower 48), you’ll need to understand Canada’s gun laws if you decide to bring your guns with you. (If you’d rather ship them, we’ll cover that next!)
Briefly, Canadian law recognizes three classes of firearms:
- Non-restricted – This class includes ordinary hunting rifles and shotguns. You can bring these into the country as long as you’re 18 years or older, you’ve stored them properly for transit and you declare them at the border.
- Restricted – Many models of handguns fall into this category. (Note the exceptions below in the “prohibited” category.”) Although you can bring restricted firearms into the country for the purposes of transit to or from Alaska, you’ll need to get an Authorization to Transport permit in advance of your trip.
- Prohibited – This category covers fully automatic, converted automatics and other military-style weapons. Handguns with a barrel length of less than 105 mm, as well as .25 and .32 caliber handguns are also prohibited in the country and can’t be brought in under any circumstances.
This list is just an overview to give you an idea of how strict and specific Canada’s gun laws can be. To avoid both fines and problems at the border, your best bet is to check the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website for the most up-to-date regulations and procedures. You can also call the Canada Firearms Center at 1-800-731-4000 for more information.
You may decide that driving with your firearms—or trying to take them with you when you fly—is too much of a hassle. In that case, you’ll want to look at shipping your guns to Alaska or to your new home destination.
Shipping Firearms—The Right Way
For maximum convenience and minimum hassle, you may ask your moving company to take care of shipping your guns for you. If that’s the case, make sure you look for a company with experience in packing and shipping firearms, one who knows how to keep them safe and move them in compliance with the gun laws both at your current home and your future one.
As you research your options, look for a company that:
- Uses detailed inventory practices, such as inventorying and accounting for each firearm by serial number.
- Closes your shipment with security tape tags so it’s clear when a shipment has been opened. If the shipment needs to be inspected by customs, expect to be notified. You should also expect the shipment to be resealed for the rest of the journey.
- Is licensed to transport restricted and prohibited firearms through Canada.
- Can transport firearms to and from Alaska by both highway and water routes.
- Stays in touch with you to keep you apprised of the status of your shipment.
Moving Your Possessions—All of Them
Whether you’re headed for Alaska or leaving for parts unknown, you want to be able to take everything with you, and that includes your firearms. By reviewing the Alaska state regulations, as well as the applicable laws for the jurisdiction you’ll soon call home, you’ll be able to legally transport your guns with relative ease to your new home.
Need help moving your firearms to or from Alaska? We can help! We’ve got the expert knowledge to make sure your shipment complies with local regulations—and the experience to ensure it arrives safely at its destination. In fact, we’ve shipped as many as 138 firearms at a time for a single customer, and we’d be happy to assist you. Just reach out to us for a free quote to get started.