This video provides an overview of the process you need to follow in order to transport your firearm through states that do not honor your permit or allow you to carry a firearm.
In response to reports of hunters and other gun owners being arrested while transporting their firearms through states with tight gun control, Congress passed Senate Bill 2414 as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act (“FOPA”). This law, often called the McClure-Volkmer Rule, provides protection for gun owners transporting firearms through restrictive states, subject to strict requirements.
Federal Law On Vehicle Transport (McClure-Volkmer Rule):
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. (18 U.S.C. 926A, 27 CFR 178.38.)
Plain Talk Explanation: Some states will either recognize your concealed firearm permit, or will simply allow you to carry a loaded firearm while in their state, but some states will do neither. When travelling through restricted states (i.e. states that do not honor your concealed firearm permit) you can still have your firearm in your vehicle, but you need to abide by specific rules.
In order to ensure compliance with the above federal law you must abide by the following 5 steps:
- You must be traveling:
- FROM a place where you may lawfully possess and/or carry the firearm;
- TO any other place where you may lawfully possess and/or carry that same firearm.
- The firearm(s) must be unloaded.
- The firearm(s) and ammunition must be stored separately (i.e. separate containers).
- The firearm(s) and ammunition must be stored so they are not readily or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. (i.e. must be in the trunk of your vehicle if possible).
- If your vehicle does not have a trunk, the completely unloaded firearm must be LOCKED in a hard sided case. The glove box or center console does NOT satisfy this requirement. The firearm MUST be stored in a separate locked case. Put the case as far away from you, in the driver seat, as possible.
- In order to guarantee federal protection, your transport through the state should be continuous and uninterrupted. This means you are not a tourist at any time. As a general rule you should not spend more than 24 hours inside the jurisdiction.
Whenever you are transporting a firearm through a state that prohibits your right to carry it is highly recommended that you always store your firearm in a locked (hard-sided) container than the ammunition. If your vehicle has a trunk, both the firearm(s) and the ammunition must be stored in the trunk. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, then your firearms must be in a locked hard-sided container and both the firearms and ammunition must be stored as far from you in the drivers seat as possible.
Once the above 5 steps have been satisfied you are entitled, under federal law, to lawfully transport a firearm in your vehicle. Some states do not require you to complete all of the above steps, but some do. New York, New Jersey and California, for example, are responsible for nearly every case on the books dealing with this law. Because of the extreme penalties that can accompany inadvertent mistakes, always follow these five steps to avoid any confusion and ensure complete compliance to the law.
If you are visiting a restricted state for a prolonged period of time, such as a vacation, the federal law discussed in this section will not offer you protection. You will need to verify what is required by the state where you will be visiting before transporting your firearm to that state.
What About Transporting High Capacity Magazines, “Assault Weapons” or Other Prohibited Items Through A State?
It is important to understand that, although this federal law allows you to transport some firearms through restrictive states, it does not allow you to transport items that are prohibited under state law, such as high capacity magazines or “assault weapons”.
In one of the few cases that addressed this specific question, the court ruled that the federal law discussed above (18 U.S.C.A. § 926A) does not prohibit states from enforcing bans on large capacity magazines or bans on other weapons (like “assault firearms”). Meaning, if the item you are transporting is prohibited in the state through which you plan on transporting it, the federal law discussed in this lesson will not protect you and you will still be charged with a crime. As such, it is essential that you know the laws of the states through which you will be transporting your firearms. (see Coal. of New Jersey Sportsmen v. Florio, 744 F. Supp. 602 (D.N.J. 1990)).
How Long Can I Be In A State And Still Be Considered “Transporting“?
Great question. There is no solid answer to this question as the law does not provide a time threshold and there are very few court cases dealing with this question.
In one of the only cases dealing with this specific question, a man named Paul Guisti was arrested for having an unloaded .45–caliber pistol in a locked safe inside of his boat which he was navigating in the waters just off shore from New York. Paul had skippered his boat from his home in Florida, along the eastern seaboard to New York, and then planned on returning to Florida prior to being arrested. Given that Paul was acting as more of a tourist than a transporter in New York, the federal law discussed above does not protect him from prosecution. In this case, the defendant was not transporting his gun interstate, but rather, admits he was traveling along the Eastern seaboard, docking in various states for undefined periods of time. This is more of a tourist activity. The court reasoned as follows:
The Court is not persuaded that the [18 USC § 926A] applies to interstate travel which is in actuality a round-trip foray with a gun into states that the defendant is not entitled to possess the gun. The plain language of the statute mandates application only if the defendant was transporting the gun from one state to a different state. (See People v. Guisti, 30 Misc. 3d 1229(A), 926 N.Y.S.2d 345 (Crim. Ct. 2011)).
Although it doesn’t provide a clear answer of what timeframe would be considered transporting, it is clear the courts will look into the facts of each case to determine if you are a tourist or a transporter. In other words, if you plan on visiting Disneyland, staying multiple days to see the sights, or doing other tourist related activities, you should not plan on having the protection of this federal law.
What About Other Vehicles Without Trunks, Like Single-Cab Pickups or Motorcycles?
There are virtually no court cases addressing specific vehicle types. Congress did include an exception for vehicles lacking a trunk–such as pickup trucks or motorcycles. For these, the firearm must “be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.” While debating how exactly someone should transport the firearm on their motorcycle the Senate said:
“It is anticipated that the firearms being transported will be made inaccessible in a way consistent with the mode of transportation–in a trunk in vehicles which have such containers, or in a case or similar receptacle in vehicles which do not.” (See S. Rep. No. 476, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. 25 (1982))
Legal Heat’s advice is to make the firearm as inaccessible as possible to you in the driver’s (rider’s) position, ensuring that the firearm you are transporting is locked inside a hard-sided container and the ammunition is stored separately from the firearm.
Drag and Drop The Handgun Case & Ammo Where It Should Be Transported In Each Type Of Vehicle Under The McClure-Volkmer Rule If You Were Driving Through A Restrictive State (i.e. a state that does not honor your permit or allow you to carry a firearm).
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