Carrying a handgun or a rifle across state lines can be a somewhat confusing and complicated process. Whether you're moving to a new state or just passing through, it's essential to understand the gun laws to avoid legal trouble. In this article, we’ll outline the basics of carrying a gun across state lines and briefly overview the fundamental laws you need to know. We'll also discuss some exceptions to these laws so you don't find yourself in a sticky situation.
Crossing State Lines with a Firearm in Your Car
Good news. The first thing to know is that, in general, it IS legal to transport a gun across state lines. The Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) is a federal law that provides safe passage for gun owners transporting firearms across state lines. The law prohibits any state or local government from enacting gun laws that would infringe on the right to bear arms, including the transport of firearms.
FOPA also includes provisions that protect gun owners throughout the United States from being arrested or detained if they are stopped while transporting firearms. In addition, the law requires gun dealers to keep records of all firearm sales, and it imposes a waiting period for the purchase of handguns. The Firearm Owners Protection Act was enacted in 1986 in response to a growing number of state and local laws designed to restrict firearms ownership and use. The law has been amended several times, most recently in 2005, to clarify its provisions and to address concerns about its impact on public safety.
Legal Requirements for Interstate Firearm Protection
However, there are some restrictions to this law. For example, you cannot transport a firearm if you are a convicted felon or subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Additionally, your guns must be locked away, unloaded, and not easily accessible while in transit.
According to FOPA, a gun owner must be "traveling." This definition is ambiguous at best, with no clear legal definition. There have been some attempts at clarification, with the most recent interpretation not stopping in one place too long. For example, a man in 2013 was convicted of illegally possessing a firearm when he stopped for a nap in New Jersey. If you're in a firearm-unfriendly state, we advise you to travel through as quickly as possible. (No napping in Jersey, friends). This level of ambiguity is not ideal for gun owners and is certainly something we should all know.
Concealed Carry Laws Vary by State
Another requirement is that possession of your firearm must be legal in both your departure and destination states. Laws around concealed and open carry, qualifications for ownership, and required state licenses vary drastically from state to state. What may be legal in Texas may not be legal in California and vice versa.
For example, in California, carrying an unloaded gun in your car is illegal unless it is locked in a container. In Florida, on the other hand, you can carry an unloaded handgun in your vehicle without a locked container; however, it must be secured and not readily accessible.
Additionally, states like New Jersey require you to have a state-issued license to own a firearm. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the laws of the state you are traveling to, through, or living in so that you don't accidentally break the law. Trust us - ignorance is not bliss.
Familiarize yourself with State Gun Laws
In summary, carrying a gun across state lines can be complicated but doable. There are federal laws that provide some protections for gun owners. Still, there are also state laws that can vary significantly. It's critical to familiarize yourself with the laws of the state you travel to or live in to ensure you remain compliant. It is best to consult an attorney if you have questions about whether you are allowed to transport a firearm.
Please note that this content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Laws are constantly changing and are different from state to state. If you are unsure about a specific law, consult an attorney.