Wow! Awesome thread, and a great topic. (Sorry for raising it from the dead).
While I'm no firearms expert (or a lawyer), I'd like to offer my 2Â¢ on a few things. Keep in mind I reside in Delaware, so your State's laws may be different than mine....
1. To be "safe" I would suggest that you know the Firearms laws in EVERY State you're going to be camping in, or driving through, or even thinking about getting close to. What's considered "concealed carry" and "open carry" will probably be totally different (and hence illegal) depending where you are. Sometimes a license to even have a gun is required. If you have a CCW permit in your State, some States may not honor it. The list goes on... Sources for these laws would be: 1-calling each Attorney General's Office in each State and getting the info from the authorities, 2-research the laws online yourself (most States have their Codes and Ordinances online now), 3-call the police departments in each State or County and ask them (keep in mind most LEO's don't even know their own laws on firearms, so be careful), 4-hit the library or an online book seller and get:
I don't own this book, but you want to be sure of needing a license to have a firearm in that State, concealed vs. open carry, parked vs. transporting a firearm and how to do it legally, even what kind of ammo is legal (for example, hollow points are illegal in NJ). Some States prohibit civilian ownership of tazers, or knives of a certain blade length or operation (automatic), batons, etc.... A lot to know, that's for sure.
2. For me, when I carry my firearm for protection, it's always ready to be used immediately (condition 1). Why? Because a bad guy (or wild animal) is NOT going to wait a few seconds while I get my gun out of a safe, or load a mag and rack the slide, or whatever. If I'm drawing my weapon, it means I'm in fear for my life, and I'm going to be ready to pull the trigger. And if the situation is that bad and I HAVE to pull the trigger, I want a projectile that'll do the most damage (which is JHP for me). No rubber bullets. No non-lethal crap. Seconds (actually split seconds) count in a gun fight. If it takes you 15 seconds to get from where you are, to your gun, make it ready to fire, aim, and THEN pull the trigger, that's about 13 seconds too late. A bad guy already has the element of surprise, as does a predatory animal. Just something to think about.
3. As far as children go, I carry my firearm around them, too. They know not to touch it or draw attention to the fact that I have it (when we're out in public).... Teach your kids early about firearms, the safety rules for firearms, and proper handling - even if they're too young to shoot (I know my kids are too young). This may not even be for the purpose of teaching them how to shoot right now, but to take AWAY any curiosity they may have had about firearms. You know the old saying "curiosity killed the cat" right? Well, you don't want curiosity killing your child(ren). And I'm sure we've all read/heard news reports about a child who found a gun at their friend's house, and the typical outcome. By showing my children my firearm(s), and teaching them the safety rules, they now KNOW what to do and (more importantly) what NOT to do. And they also won't be overly curious about MY gun(s) that I keep for self and home defense.
4. A word about chemical sprays: be careful with these. If you get any on you, you'll be incapacitated along w/ your attacker. And they can "go off" accidentally. My Ex-wife had her's go off in her minivan (she kept it in the ashtray) after it got stuck on something when she was trying to grab it just to move it. Not pretty. And be sure carrying sprays is legal where you're going to be, too.
5. A knife would be a good "substitute" for a gun, or even a good "backup" to a gun. I carry a pocket folder clipped inside my pocket on my "weak" side. It's easy to access and fast to open w/ one hand, which is especially important if my "strong" hand is busy dealing w/ weapon retention against a bad guy.
6. On the actual original topic, as far as WHERE I'd keep my firearm, when I'm in my vehicle and driving, by "law" I have to keep it either on the passenger seat or on the dash. This is to keep the weapon OPEN (otherwise it is considered "concealed" and since I don't have a CCDW License, I could go to jail on felony charges - not good). Open carry is lawful here in DE. For others where Open Carry and/or Concealed Carry isn't a problem, ideally I'd keep it ON me somewhere (OWB or IWB holster). Fast and easy access is key, since you'll probably need your gun in a hurry.
If I'm storing it (or hiding it) in my vehicle somewhere, I'd consider one of these:
Basically, any kind of steel, lockable little safe would work:
You get the idea: basically anything that can be bolted down and locked and is made of steel.
Well, I've babbled on long enough.
Awesome thread though! I'm glad I'm not the only one who exercises my right to self defense, whether at home or in an RV somewhere.