The following is a video transcript.
I would like to talk to you today about traveling with firearms. I had a case not too long ago with a single mom who has two young kids. She was driving from Pennsylvania to New Jersey to go to a birthday party for her kids and was stopped for a minor traffic violation.
The mother lived in Philadelphia. She had a licensed handgun and had previously been robbed twice. She attended the right classes to purchase the gun and was told if she ever got pulled over by the police to notify them right away that she was in possession of a gun and a permit to carry. So, that is just what she did. However, in New Jersey it led immediately to her arrest.
New Jersey recognizes no other state’s carry license. She was arrested and charged with a second-degree felony-level offense. This meant she faced up to 10 years in state prison, with a minimum mandatory sentence of three and a half years, with no chance of parole.
You can’t make assumptions that simply because you are a law-abiding citizen or have your license, you are able to transport your firearm into other states. This applies to whether a firearm is loaded or unloaded, and applies differently (at times) to long arms versus handguns. Every jurisdiction has its own laws.
It is possible under federal law to transport unloaded firearms from one place where you can legally possess and carry a firearm, to another place where you can legally possess and carry a firearm. Then, you can travel through gun-hostile states like New Jersey, for example, because you will be protected and preempted under federal law.
However, if New Jersey is your final destination, you’ve got a problem getting the federal law to apply. You must be able to legally possess your firearm in both your starting state and your destination state.
To comply with 18 U.S.C. 926A, your travel must start and end in a state where you can lawfully possess a firearm. The firearm must be unloaded and locked in the trunk, or a locked container that is out of reach or not readily accessible from the passenger compartment. Ammunition must also be locked in the trunk or container. You must not cease “traveling” while in the firearms-hostile state. Do not stop for anything more than fuel or a restroom break.
In order to stay protected under the law, the gun(s) cannot be loaded. They need to be locked in the trunk. If you do not have a trunk that is separate from the passenger compartment, then the guns needed to be locked in a container and stored in the back of the car so as to not be readily accessible to the passengers.
If you are transporting ammunition it must be transported in the same manner as a gun and not be readily accessible to the passengers. This will put you under federal law protection. Remember, the federal law will not apply if the final destination is a state prohibiting your possession and carry altogether.
Know the Law
So, it is important to know the jurisdictional law you are traveling into. It is good to know there may be a federal law helping you in your transport, but be very careful. Many states are extremely tough on law-abiding gun owners. You do not want to end up with any problems that you could have avoided by doing your homework.
If you have any more questions regarding traveling with your firearm, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.