Traveling With a Firearm – What You Need to Know

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

You have your permit(s), you have your personal protection firearm, and you’re going on vacation. This post is dedicated to giving you the information you need to know so you can safely (and legally) take that firearm with you as you travel across this great nation.

TRANSPORTING A FIREARM IN A VEHICLE

Federal Transport 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 you can still have your firearm in your vehicle, but you need to be aware of a few things. Federal law provides that a person, who is not prohibited by the GCA from receiving or transporting firearms, may transport a firearm under certain conditions, notwithstanding State or local law to the contrary. In order to ensure compliance with the law you must abide by the following 6 steps:

  1. Must be traveling:
    1. FROM a place where you may lawfully possess and/or carry the firearm
    2. TO any other place where you may lawfully possess and/or carry that same firearm
  2. Firearm must be unloaded
  3. Firearm and ammunition must be stored separately  (ie. separate containers)
  4. Firearm and ammunition must BOTH be stored so they are NOT readily or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. (ie. must be in the trunk of your vehicle if possible).
  5. 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.
  6. In order to guarantee federal protection, your transport through the state must 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 separate locked (hard sided) container than the ammunition, and that you store each containers in separate locations in the vehicle, preferably with the firearms in the trunk.

Once these 6 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. Because of the extreme penalties that can accompany inadvertent mistakes, always follow these six steps to avoid any confusion and assure complete compliance to the law.

POLICE ENCOUNTERS

Although none of you would ever break the law, occasionally you may be mistaken for a speeder and get pulled over. Below is what you should know should you ever be involved in a police encounter while carrying a firearm.

Some states impose a statutory duty upon permit holders to inform a police officer of the presence of a firearm, in the permitee’s possession, whenever they have an official encounter with said officer. An official encounter can vary from a traffic stop to a mere conversation with a uniformed police officer. Although it is not required to do so in all states, we strongly advise that a permit holder always abide by the following five-steps whenever they have a police encounter:

  1. If you are armed, advise the officer of your firearm and that you have a valid concealed firearm permit
  2. Advise the officer of the location of the firearm
  3. Comply fully with all instructions given by the officer
  4. Keep your hands visible at all times. If you are in a vehicle place your hands on the steering wheel until you have informed the officer of the presence of the firearm and fully complied with his or her instructions.
  5. Do not reach for your weapon or permit unless instructed to do so

FULL DISCLOSURE: A potential outcome of informing an officer that you have a firearm in the vehicle (when not required to do so by state law) is that the officer might then have the ability to perform what is called a Terry Stop or a Terry Frisk. The Terry Doctrine stems from a 1968 Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio. In Terry v. Ohio, the United States Supreme Court held that an officer may perform a protective frisk pursuant to a lawful stop when the officer reasonably believes a person is “armed and presently dangerous to the officer or others.” 392 U.S. 1, 24, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). The Court further cautioned that a search “is a serious intrusion upon the sanctity of the person” and should not be taken lightly. Id. at 17. The officer must first have a valid reason for stopping the person, and the officer’s subsequent actions must be “reasonably related in scope to the circumstances” justifying the stop. The sole purpose for allowing the frisk is to protect the officer and other prospective victims by neutralizing potential weapons. Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1049 n. 14, 103 S.Ct. 3469. Although it is unlikely to occur to a permit holder, a Terry Stop allows a police officer to remove you from your vehicle, pat down all occupants of the vehicle (using the sense of touch to determine if they are armed), as well as search the entire passenger compartment of the vehicle including any locked containers that might reasonably house a weapon.

Legal Heat instructors travel through all 50 states each year and have had several police encounters. We have always informed the officer that we have firearms in the vehicle (even when not required to do so by state law) and have never had a Terry Stop performed on them. We highly recommend that you do the same, although we acknowledge the sanctity of the IV Amendment.

TRANSPORTING A FIREARM WHILE TRAVELING ON AN AIRPLANE

A passenger on and aircraft may transport a firearm in his or her checked baggage, so long as all TSA regulations are followed. Always abide by the following steps when traveling with a firearm, and check with your particular airline about any other procedures they may have:

  1. All firearms must be declared to the air carrier during the ticket counter check-in process.
  2. The firearm must be unloaded.
  3. The firearm must be carried in a hard-sided container.
  4. The container must be locked.
  5. The passenger must provide the key or combination to the screener if it is necessary to open the container, and then remain present during screening to take back possession of the key after the container is cleared.
  6. Any ammunition transported must be securely packed in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
  7. Firearm magazines/clips do not satisfy the packaging requirement unless they provide a complete and secure enclosure of the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder, holster or lanyard).
  8. The ammunition may also be located in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it is properly packed as described above.
  9. Black powder and percussion caps used with black-powder type firearms are not permitted in carry-on or checked baggage

Airlines may have their own additional requirements on the carriage of firearms and the amount of ammunition that you may have in your checked baggage. Therefore, travelers should also contact the airline regarding its firearm and ammunition carriage policies.

Relevant Statute: Title 49: Transportation – Part 1540- Civil Aviation Security – §1540.111 Carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals.

 

SAFE TRAVELS!

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Comments
  1. Johnny says:

    Great Videos! Thanks.