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Transporting Firearms Across State Lines

March 17, 2017, by Ken Jorgustin

The following information regarding transporting firearms across state lines was obtained from the NRA-ILA, and I thought that some of you might find it beneficial to know…

 

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.

 
INTRODUCTION

Federal law does not restrict individuals from transporting legally acquired firearms across state lines for lawful purposes except those explicitly prohibited by federal law to include convicted felons; persons under indictment for felonies; adjudicated “mental defectives” or those who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions; illegal drug users; illegal aliens and most non-immigrant aliens; dishonorably discharged veterans; those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship; fugitives from justice; persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence; and persons subject to certain domestic violence restraining orders. Therefore, no federal permit is required (or available) for the interstate transportation of firearms.

Many states and localities have laws governing the transportation of firearms. Travelers must be aware of these laws and comply with legal requirements in each jurisdiction. There is no uniform state transportation procedure for firearms. If in doubt, a traveler should carry firearms unloaded, locked in a case, and stored in an area (such as a trunk or attached toolbox) where they are inaccessible from a vehicle’s passenger compartment and not visible from outside the vehicle. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate locked container. Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 44 s926A

 
Note: I own the following book, and have found it to be extremely useful while traveling from state to state with a firearm. Each state is covered separately to inform you of their firearm laws. Lists of current reciprocity between states are also helpful. The book is updated each year with any changes to law that may apply.

2017 Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States

 
Here’s more regarding federal law that protects you while traveling across state lines:


 
FEDERAL LAW ON TRANSPORTATION OF FIREARMS

A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.

Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.

Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest. All travelers in areas with restrictive laws would be well advised to have copies of any applicable firearm licenses or permits, as well as copies or printouts from the relevant jurisdictions’ official publications or websites documenting pertinent provisions of law (including FOPA itself) or reciprocity information. In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have ready access to it.

 
CARRYING ON OR ABOUT THE PERSON

As soon as any firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed loaded or readily accessible in a vehicle, state and local laws regarding the carrying of firearms apply. If you seek to carry or transport firearms in such a manner, it is advisable that you determine what the law is.

(The book referenced above will assist in this determination)

You may also wish to determine whether the state issues any necessary permits to non-residents and how to obtain one, if available. While many states require permits to carry usable, loaded firearms on or about one’s person, some will not issue such permits to non-residents.

 
TRANSPORTATION BY MOTOR VEHICLE

In most states, firearms may be transported legally if they are unloaded, cased, and locked in the automobile trunk or otherwise inaccessible to the driver or any passenger. The exceptions to this rule apply mainly to transportation of handguns and so-called “assault weapons.” The myriad and conflicting legal requirements for firearm transportation through the states make caution the key for travelers of which you must consult local law.

If you travel with a trailer or camper that is hauled by an automobile, it is advisable to transport the firearms unloaded, cased and locked in the trunk of the car. If your vehicle is of the type in which driving and living spaces are not separated, the problem becomes one of access. If the firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed in the camper where it is readily accessible to the driver or any passenger, state and local laws regarding concealed carrying of firearms may apply. It is recommended, therefore, that the firearm be transported unloaded, cased, and placed in a locked rear compartment of the camper or mobile home, where it is inaccessible to the driver or any passenger.

Generally, a mobile home is considered a home if it is not attached to a towing vehicle, and is permanently attached to utilities, placed on blocks, or otherwise parked in such a manner that it cannot immediately be started up and used as a vehicle.

Once you reach your destination, state and local law will govern the ownership, possession, and transportation of your firearms.