Another problem is that in certain places with very strict gun laws, like New York or New Jersey, Safe Passage protection is treated as an affirmative defense. Affirmative defenses allow defendants to present evidence that negates criminal or civil liability. The problem is that if you’re a defendant, you’ve already been arrested and are being prosecuted. Put another way, there are certain states that will arrest and prosecute you even if you’ve followed every single guideline laid out under the Safe Passage provision of FOPA.
What does it all mean?
While most of the time avoiding criminal charges for transporting a firearm and ammunition across state lines is relatively easy, you still need to be cautious. If your route takes you through even one state where the firearms and/or ammunition you own are illegal, it’s probably best to select a different route. If for some reason you absolutely can’t avoid that state, then do your best not to stop there. What if you absolutely need to stop in a state that has unfriendly firearms laws? Stay stopped for as little time as possible! Again, there’s no clearly delineated length of time you’re allowed to be stopped before you no longer meet the definition of “traveling,” so erring on the side of caution and thinking in terms of minutes as opposed to hours, is probably best.
In addition to the legal considerations inherent whenever you’re taking handguns, ammunition, or any sort of firearm on a road trip, there are some practical things that every gun owner should think about even if they never get too far from home.
How “NRA” and other pro-gun stickers may help thieves steal handguns and ammunition
If you carry a gun in your state regularly, or only carry while traveling to other states, responsible gun owners should always be thinking about is how to keep their guns and ammo safe from criminals. Since 2015, gun thefts from cars have been the largest source of illegal guns making their way into the hands of criminals. IPro-gun stickers on a car might be viewed as an indication that there is a greater likelihood of a firearm being stored inside. This may lead to criminals often choosing to break into cars that have such stickers.
Don’t advertise to a criminal that there’s anything worth taking
Whether you regularly transport guns and ammo, or only occasionally have them in your possession while driving, it’s probably best to remove any visual indicators that you might have shooting gear in your car. If necessity dictates that you have to leave your handguns, long guns, or ammunition in a car while it’s unattended, it’s crucial to secure them somewhere out of sight inside of your vehicle. A box of ammo left on the floorboard of your car may be the only thing a criminal needs to see to know that your car has a firearm in it.
While many people focus on home gun storage to prevent theft, there also needs to be some thought given as to how best to store guns inside various forms of transportation. Safes should be used whenever possible. Make it difficult for the criminal to gain access to anything of yours they might want to take.
While there’s no federal legislation in place that requires gun owners to keep their guns and ammo under lock and key in their home state when they’re not directly under their control, some states do have such a requirement. Remember that while it may be perfectly legal, if imprudent, to keep handguns unsecured under the seat of a car in your home state, other states may have a much stricter storage law. Once the risk of theft posed by the criminal element is also factored in, it’s best to ensure guns and ammo are safely stored any time it isn’t legal for you to carry those items on your physical person.
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