With federal, state and local jurisdiction laws governing the transportation of firearms, traveling with a gun be downright confusing. You must consider the method in which you are transporting it and how that method pertains to the governing laws. In an effort to demystify this process, we're going to reveal the basics of traveling with a gun.
Transporting a Firearm by Motor Vehicle
According to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), most states allow the transportation of firearms via motor vehicle if the firearm is unloaded, cased, and stored in the trunk or other compartment where it is inaccessible the driver or passenger. However, each state has its own laws regarding the transportation of firearms by motor vehicle. In Wyoming, for instance, residents are allowed to transport loaded firearms in their motor vehicle without a CCW license. Other states allow residents to transport firearms by motor vehicle if they are unloaded.
Firearm Owners' Protection Act
Originally passed in 1986, the Firearm Owners' Protection Act (FOPA) is a revision of the country's existing Gun Control Act of 1968. Legal jargon aside, it lives up to its namesake by granting certain legal protections to firearm owners in the United States. FOPA essentially allows U.S. residents to transport firearms in their motor vehicle in any state or jurisdiction in which he or she can lawfully possess and carry a firearm.
It's important to note that some jurisdictions may treat FOPA as an affirmative defense, meaning the arresting officer may still arrest or cite the driver of a vehicle for failure to abide by local firearm laws. However, FOPA can be used as a defense in court, at which point the charges should be dropped/dismissed.
What Happens if I Get Pulled Over?
Whether you have a CCW license or not, you should keep your hands on the steering wheel and notify the officer that you are traveling with a firearm. And if you are a CCW license holder, go ahead and let the officer know. Transparency is critical to protecting the rights of lawful firearm owners. If an officer spots a firearm that you failed to disclosure, it could turn an otherwise routine traffic stop into a tense moment of anxiety. So when the officer first walks up to your window, let him or know that you are legally transporting or carrying a firearm. Trust me, they will appreciate your honesty and transparency in this situation.
Flying With a Gun
Some people assume that commercial flights are off limits with firearms, but this isn't necessarily true. Each year, more than 631 million passengers fly domestic flights in the U.S., some of whom carry firearms. You can learn more about the laws regarding commercial air travel with firearms by visiting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website here, but it basically says that firearms must be unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided container. Travelers are not allowed transport firearms as carry-on luggage. Instead, firearms must be declared during check-in as checked luggage.