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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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4 Precautions for CCW Americans Traveling to Europe

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 4 Precautions for Americans Traveling to Europe With a Concealed Carry Permit

Americans with concealed carry permits need to exercise caution when traveling to European countries. Gun laws in the United States are strict, but they're extremely loose compared to other countries. While the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, other countries don't have that equivalent – not even Canada.

When traveling abroad to Europe, American citizens need to be careful not to break any local laws regarding firearms. While most people understand that gun rights don't transfer between countries, that's not the only thing CCW permit holders need to worry about.

As a CCW permit holder, it's hard to break certain habits related to your daily routine that revolves around carrying your firearm. When traveling where firearms are prohibited or frowned upon, make these four precautions a priority.

1. Don't travel with your CCW clothing

You've probably found some good clothing to support concealed carry. It's important to have the right clothing to ensure you can conceal your firearm safely and securely. However, if your person is searched or your suitcase is inspected, having this type of clothing might raise a red flag.

People with valid CCW permits get flagged all the time, even in states where CCW is permitted. Imagine being at the airport in a country where all firearms are illegal and someone discovers your shorts with a concealed carry waistband. You'll be immediately flagged and likely detained.

From the official's perspective, they'll be wondering where your firearm is and whether or not you've hidden it in your luggage or on your person. Why would you have clothing designed for conceal carry if you don't intend to use it for your firearm?

Be selective with the clothing you bring on your travels. You might be used to wearing your special CCW gear on a daily basis, but don't bring it to Europe.

2. Remove your holster from your belt

It's a pain to detach and attach a holster to your belt every day, so it's understandable if you just leave your holster attached to your belt and pants. That's smart when you're going about your daily business, but it's a bad idea if you're going places where firearms aren't allowed.

In the U.S., people get arrested for wearing an empty holster into a courtroom – even if their firearm is secured in their vehicle or at home. The mere presence of any kind of firearms accessory can make officials remove you from the property.

Provided you make it through a European airport with an empty holster, which is unlikely, you probably won't be so lucky throughout your trip. In a culture where people aren't used to seeing guns, seeing an empty holster will put people on alert.

3. Don't wear or pack pro-gun t-shirts

Avoid wearing or packing your favorite pro-Second-Amendment t-shirts, especially if they depict a firearm. Doing so will just about guarantee you'll get stopped and questioned by legal authorities – either at the airport or during your stay.

Freedom of expression is another freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. However, that doesn't extend to other countries. While some European countries aren't terribly free-speech friendly, you really have to create a scene to get in trouble for being controversial. Unfortunately, just the image of a gun can be enough to create a scene in some parts of Europe.

Guns are far more controversial in Europe than they are in the United States. Even though many Americans believe all guns should be eliminated, they're used to seeing guns everywhere. It's not the same in Europe, where owning and using firearms is heavily restricted.

4. Don't try to apply for a carry permit in Europe

If you feel like you can't travel without your sidearm, you need to reconsider. First, only citizens can get permits to own and carry guns in Europe. Second, only a few countries permit gun ownership. If you're not a citizen, you don't qualify.

Applying for a carry permit in Europe doesn't seem like a bad idea on the surface. If you're not a citizen, your application will just get rejected. That's true. However, the act of applying for a permit will raise some red flags. Why would a U.S. citizen apply for a permit to carry a gun while they're on a short stay?

When traveling to Europe, consider alternate, non-lethal means of personal protection like pepper spray. Pepper spray is legal in most European countries with the exception of Belgium and Denmark.

Enjoy your vacation or stay

Don't let the inability to carry put a damper on your trip. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, focus on enjoying your stay. You'll be back home before you know it. 

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