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Effective May 9th, Utah will begin issuing “provisional” concealed firearm permits to anyone age 18-20 years old. The new law will require that those seeking a provisional permit complete the same training as the standard Utah permit, and will enable permit holders to carry a concealed (or open) firearm everywhere in Utah where a standard permit does, with the singular exception of K-12 schools.

Utah_border_signNon-Utah residents aged 18-20 may also obtain the Utah permit, however the rules for obtaining a non-resident provisional permit are not as straight forward.

First, if the non-resident lives in a state that honors (or reciprocates) with Utah’s provisional permit, they must first have their home state permit prior to applying for the new Utah provisional permit. This is no problem for anyone living in states like Montana or Maine (which also issue permits to 18 year olds), but creates a significant problem for those living in states where the minimum age to obtain a permit is 21.

Second, if the non-resident lives in a state that does not honor Utah’s provisional permit (like California or Illinois) then anyone age 18-20 years old may simply apply for Utah’s provisional permit once they have completed the mandatory training class (even without obtaining their home state permit first). Naturally, a non-Utah resident must verify they are complying with their home state’s laws prior to attempting to use the provisional permit to carry.

All provisional permits can be automatically converted to standard Utah permits when the permit holders turns 21, without any additional training.

This is a big win for college age students wishing to defend themselves, according to the law’s sponsor Rep. Karianne Lisonbee.

“A group of 18- to 20-year-old women brought this bill idea…They wanted to be able to defend themselves.”

Utah is not alone in issuing permits to 18 year olds, several states have been doing it for years. In fact, many 18 year olds, myself included, have taken advantage of the “Maine Loophole”, wherein they obtain a Maine non-resident permit as an 18 year old and use that permit to carry in their home state even though their home state does not issue permits to anyone under 21. This “loophole” only works, however, if your home state (Utah in my case) honors the Maine permit and does not have a law requiring you to have your home state permit or a minimum age requirement to carry. As Utah’s permit is one of the most popular in the nation, it can be assumed many 18 year olds will be signing up for training and sending off applications shortly.

For those looking for training, an 18 year old may take a training course any time after April 1, 2017 and may submit their application anytime after May 9, 2017. The cost to apply for Utah’s permit is $37 for Utah residents, and $47 for non-residents. The permit is valid for 5 years and requires a simple $15 renewal fee. Additionally, the state of Utah has published a FAQ page regarding the provisional permit you can review here.

Phil Nelsen is a nationally recognized firearms law attorney, expert witness, college professor, author and co-founder of Legal Heat, the nation’s largest firearms training firm.

Legal Heat offers CCW classes nationwide, and also publishes the industry leading Legal Heat: 50 State Guide to Firearm Laws and Regulations which can downloaded on iTunes, GooglePlay and Kindle App stores. You can purchase the paperback version of the Legal Heat 50 State Guide or sign up for a class at https://mylegalheat.com

 

DISCLAIMER TO OUR LEO FRIENDS: This article is not meant to offend or insult anyone in law enforcement. It is meant to apprise the readers of their constitutional rights. Like all law enforcement, while in uniform you are an actor of the state. However, when you take off the uniform you are also a citizen fully equipped with all the same constitutional liberties as those you interact with on your job. As such, this information should be appreciated by you in your individual capacity, and hopefully respected by you when acting on behalf of the state. The readers of this article are mainly concealed firearm permit holders. Meaning, they are exceptionally law abiding citizens. It is not our intent to help criminals conceal firearms during traffic stops, we simply want to help the law abiding remain law abiding while navigating a very complicated spiderweb of firearm laws. 

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Let’s have a very blunt conversation about interacting with law enforcement while in possession of a firearm. This article is not meant to focus on when a police officer has a legal right to stop you, but instead is meant to cover the less analyzed issue of what are the legal implications of informing an officer that you are carrying a firearm? I am going to offer this article from a purely legal standpoint, the same way I would advise a client. There are obviously differing opinions on how you should handle a police stop. It is not my intent to address how you should, but instead to analyze what the legal implications are of certain conduct during a stop.

Let’s start at the beginning. Relating to police stops of concealed permit holders there are three categories of states, namely:

  • Duty to Inform States: States where you are required by law to affirmatively disclose the presence of your firearm (e.g. Ohio, Michigan, etc.).
  • Quasi Duty to Inform States: In these states you do not have to affirmatively inform the officer of the presence of your firearm, but state law requires you to still do something, such as respond if you are asked if you have a weapon, or provide your permit if it is requested of you. The range of requirements for these states varies significantly (e.g. Iowa, Texas, etc).
  • No Duty to Inform States: In these states you have no legal obligation to inform the officer if you are carrying and you generally have no legal obligation to respond if you are asked (e.g. Utah, Georgia, etc.).

This article is not meant to be a state by state summary, we sell a book and mobile phone app that contains that information and Concealed Nation also has a great article on that topic here. Instead, I want to walk you through what the legal implications are of disclosing the presence of your weapon to a police officer.

IMPLICATION NUMBER 1: WAIVING YOUR FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS

A potential outcome of informing an officer that you have a firearm 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, the United States Supreme Court held that an officer may perform a protective frisk and search pursuant to a lawful stop when the officer reasonably believes a person is “armed and presently dangerous to the officer or others.” (see: 392 U.S. 1, 24, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968)). This also gives the officer authority to temporarily disarm the permit holder “in the interest of officer safety.” The Court did caution that a search “is a serious intrusion upon the sanctity of the person” and should not be taken lightly. Still, the basis for the search itself is largely left up to the officer’s discretion once he is made aware of the presence of a weapon.

The sole purpose for allowing the frisk/search is to protect the officer and other prospective victims by neutralizing potential weapons. (see: Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1049 n. 14, 103 S.Ct. 3469). As an example, 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. In other words, telling a police officer you have a firearm on you or in your vehicle can serve as a waiver of your Fourth Amendment rights and allow the officer to conduct a warrantless search. 

This issue was recently highlighted in a recent 4th Circuit Court of Appeals case United States v. Robinson. In Robinson, the court extended the Terry Doctrine further than it previously had. In its ruling, the court stated that because firearms are “categorically dangerous

an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that one of the automobile’s occupants is armed may frisk that individual for the officer’s protection and the safety of everyone on the scene.” (source)

Or as Judge Wynn ominously wrote in his concurring opinion, “those who chose to carry firearms sacrifice certain constitutional protections afforded to individuals who elect not to carry firearms.”

The waiver of your Fourth Amendment rights is why states with “duty to inform” laws create such a constitutional dilemma. If, as a condition to carrying a firearm, I am required by law to inform an officer that I have a firearm in my vehicle, then I am simultaneously required to waive my Fourth Amendment privacy rights. That is a violation of the unconstitutional-conditions doctrine and is long overdue for a legal challenge.

BUT PHIL, POLICE OFFICERS ONLY PUT CRIMINALS IN JAIL, AND I’M NOT A CRIMINAL!!! WHY WOULD I CARE IF I GET SEARCHED?!?

IMPLICATION NUMBER 2: YOU ARE A CRIMINAL, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW IT…YET

You are a criminal, we all are from time to time. Do you have any idea how many gun laws there are out there? No? Neither does our own department of justice. If you don’t even know how many gun laws there are, how can you possibly know you are abiding by all of them simultaneously? Justice Robert Jackson (U.S. Supreme Court Justice) once said, “any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect [his client], in no uncertain terms, to make no statement to the police, under [any] circumstances.” The reasoning behind Justice Jackson’s quote isn’t because police officers are bad, it is simply because the average civilian has no idea how many laws they may be breaking at any given time. As a prosecutor, and later a defense attorney, I deal with clients routinely that are charged with crimes they had no idea they were committing.

Here is a simple example of how the “I have nothing to hide” mentality can land you in jail. Let’s imagine you are a Utah resident and a Utah concealed permit holder. Your Utah permit is valid in well over 30 states so you decide to take a road trip with your firearm. As you’re driving through Idaho (where your permit is valid) you get pulled over for speeding in a school zone. Because you are an upstanding citizen and you have nothing to hide, you tell the officer that you have a firearm in the vehicle. Aaaaannd now you’re a felon. Wait, what?  How did that happen? Let’s review why you’re now a felon.

18 U.S.C.A. § 922(q)(2)(A), otherwise known as the Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA), states that:
It shall be unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.

The term “school zone” means in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private school; or within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school. The term “school” means a school which provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under State law (see 18 U.S.C.A. § 921).

There are a few narrow exceptions to this law, one of which is:

“if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located or a political subdivision of the State, and the law of the State or political subdivision requires that, before an individual obtains such a license, the law enforcement authorities of the State or political subdivision verify that the individual is qualified under law to receive the license;” 18 U.S.C.A. § 922 (emphasis added)

You have a permit from Utah which is valid in Idaho, but was not issued by Idaho, which means this federal law is in full force against you. See how fun that is? Don’t worry, the penalty for violating the law is only 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you would like more details about this law you can read the ATF’s analysis of it here.

Of course, as is often the case, the Idaho police officer may sympathize that you are not intending to violate the law and may choose not to escalate the situation beyond a mere traffic stop. Millions of people violate the GFSZA every year and few are prosecuted. Given the harsh penalty, however, it’s not a gamble I personally want to take.

IMPLICATION NUMBER 3: SEARCHES ARE ALMOST ALWAYS BAD.

I would challenge anyone reading this to think of any instance where someone waiving their rights, or consenting to a search/seizure, has made their life better. In my career I certainly haven’t seen it. I have, however, seen a significant amount of good people get charged with serious crimes because they were overly generous with the amount of information they shared with law enforcement. It is my experience that nothing good can come from waiving your rights. Consider the wording of the the oft cited Miranda warning:

The warning of the right to remain silent must be accompanied by the explanation that anything said can and will be used against the individual in court. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 469, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 1625, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966) (emphasis added).

Can and will be used against you. The best case scenario of waiving your rights is you get to go home. The worst case scenario is you go to prison.

Once again, it is not our intent to tell you how you should interact with law enforcement or imply in any way that law enforcement are villains or out to get you. As a prosecutor I worked with law enforcement every day, and as a firearm instructor over the past decade I can say some of the best people I know are police officers. Police officers, by and large, support the shooting sports community and are members of it themselves. We strongly encourage everyone to treat law enforcement with respect. Very little is accomplished in life by acting belligerent, rude or demeaning.

Phil Nelsen is a nationally recognized firearms law attorney, expert witness, college professor, author and co-founder of Legal Heat, the nation’s largest firearms training firm.

Legal Heat offers CCW classes nationwide, and also publishes the industry leading Legal Heat 50 State Guide to Firearm Laws and Regulations which can downloaded on iTunes, GooglePlay and Kindle App stores. You can purchase the paperback version of the Legal Heat 50 State Guide or sign up for a class at https://mylegalheat.com

 

2nd-amendment-cartoonHave you heard there is new federal legislation that will allow someone with a concealed carry permit from one state to carry in all 50 states? Sounds awesome right? Might not be as awesome as you think. The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the myths associated with this proposed legislation and give an update on its status.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is a new iteration of a law that has been proposed several times over the past 6 years. In its most recent form it was introduced on January 03, 2017 by U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08). The NRA and other gun rights organizations have been outspoken in their support of this legislation. Largely due to the social media buzz surrounding it, many people in our classes are misinformed on many aspects of this potential law (many people we speak with believe it is already a law, which is dangerous). We have received hundreds of emails and phone calls from past students asking about the “new law” and the amount of misinformation we’ve heard is alarming to us. Don’t get me wrong, we love hearing from past students and we are always flattered when you reach out to us for advice, but there are some legitimate misunderstandings out there about the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, and we want to help clarify a few important points.

Many people we speak with believe this legislation would make it so one permit would be valid in all 50 states, like a driver’s license. In fact Congressman Hudson’s own website says the following regarding the law:

“Your driver’s license works in every state, so why doesn’t your concealed carry permit?” (source)

That is absolutely not what this law will do, however, and it is important to understand what the law actually says.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is intended to “amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a means by which non- residents of a State whose residents may carry concealed firearms may also do so in the State.”

Subsection (a) says that anyone who (1) is not prohibited from possessing a gun under federal law AND (2) has a valid identification document containing a photograph in their possession AND (3) has a valid state issued license to carry a concealed handgun (from any state) may carry a concealed handgun in any state. 

AWESOME RIGHT?!? As long as I have a photo ID & concealed permit then I’ll be able to carry in any state, what’s wrong with that???

The problem is the text of the proposed law doesn’t stop there. If it did, I would agree it would be a great law. Instead it goes on to create two very distinct problems.

1: A permit holder would only be able to carry in a state that, “has a statute that allows residents of the State to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms” OR “does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes.”

  • The problem with the above text is that  it provides a strong incentive for restrictive states (like Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York & California) to prohibit concealed carry altogether. Think about it, when faced with the following two choices, do you think that New Jersey and California (who are historically very restrictive in issuing concealed permits) are going to (1) open the floodgates to every freedom loving American to carry a gun, OR  (2) simply prohibit concealed carry altogether, thus exempting themselves from the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. If this law passes, reasonable minds could agree we would see at least the following states take steps to completely prohibit concealed carry: California, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Hawaii, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In sum, we would see a regression in the amount of states that allow concealed carry. Naturally residents of those states could then take their case to the courts and hopefully we would see the state and federal courts rule favorably in some of those jurisdictions, but sadly as we’ve seen over the past few years, that is far from a sure bet.

2: “The possession or carrying of a concealed hand-gun in a State under this section shall be subject to the same conditions and limitations … imposed by…State law or the law of a political subdivision of a State”

  • What this means is that those middle-of-the-road states (like Oregon, Washington, Illinois and South Carolina) which likely won’t decide to eliminate concealed carry altogether, but also don’t necessarily want millions of visitors carrying guns in their state, will likely make it SUBSTANTIALLY more difficult to carry a gun in their state. States like Oregon and Illinois (among others) have historically been very opposed to granting non-resident carry rights within their state. Instead of suddenly opening the doors for everyone to carry, we will likely see state legislatures tightening the areas within the state where you are allowed to carry through increased prohibited areas. Advancements that took years to accomplish could potentially vanish overnight due to an overly paranoid media frenzy.

There are some positives to this law. I like that concealed carry is being discussed on a national stage and I am glad it is making people more cognizant of the very complicated patchwork of gun laws we have in America. However, I think this legislation is badly in need of refinement if it is to accomplish what we all want it to accomplish. To me, a much better option would be to pursue a judicial remedy for the right to bear arms much like the NRA and the SAF achieved for the right to keep arms (click here for a summary of the difference). However, if we are going to attack this issue through legislation it needs to be done properly. As most are aware, Legal Heat is the largest provider of concealed carry training in America, having certified over 150,000 people to obtain concealed carry permits. We are also the publishers of a 50 state gun law book & app that is used by hundreds of thousands of gun owners to navigate gun laws in all 50 states. The attorneys at Legal Heat have also worked on several pieces of concealed carry legislation and would be more than happy to act in an advisory role for Congressman Hudson or anyone else involved in this legislation. We want this law to pass, we just want it to be amended slightly before passing.

Having said all of that, what is the status of this legislation? It is currently sitting in the House awaiting review by a committee and a floor vote. If it clears the House then it will be sent to the Senate for joint resolution before being sent to the President’s desk. President Trump has been fairly outspoken about his willingness to sign a law of this nature. For the first time in our history the question before us now is not IF we can pass nationwide reciprocity legislation, but instead HOW such a law should be strategically handled. We are in an exciting time for American gun rights. Legal Heat is very excited about the potential to see quick and decisive progress in the fight for the individual right to keep and bear arms.We will continue to stand on the front lines of this issue by training tens of thousands of Americans each year. If you are interested in attending a training class click here to find a course in your area. 

For updates on this proposed legislation and any other gun related issues please follow us on Facebook.


About the Author: Phillip Nelsen is a co-founder of Legal Heat, a nationally recognized firearm law attorney, college professor and author.

Over the last few months Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane has been altering and amending Pennsylvania reciprocity agreements like a child who can’t decide on which candy to select from the candy aisle. It appears her intent is to require Pennsylvania residents to obtain a Pennsylvania permit prior to obtaining an out of state permit (such as a Utah, Florida or Arizona permit). Apparently some PA residents were only obtaining a Florida permit and never obtaining a PA permit and she wanted to put an end to that. If that’s the case, it would make sense for her to do that as it is already required by Pennsylvania law that residents obtain their home state permit in order to carry in their home state. However, whether intentionally or unintentionally, AG Kane has also been restricting the rights of non-Pennsylvania residents (such as Maryland, New York and New Jersey) to carry in Pennsylvania by declaring all non-resident permits held by those individuals invalid in PA.

AG Katherine Kane presumably discussing the best methods of restricting fundamental rights with former President Bill Clinton

Back in February AG Kane invalidated all non-resident Florida permits in Pennsylvania by issuing a “notice”. She then turned her attention to Arizona permit holders in May, and finally did the same with the Utah permit a few weeks ago. The way it currently sits, Utah, Arizona and Florida permits held by non-residents of those states are no longer valid in Pennsylvania. Residents of Utah, Arizona or Florida would still be able to carry in PA with those permits as this change does not affect them. Also, this change does not affect PA residents so long as they have their PA permit.

There is, however, some pieces of good news for those affected by this decision who are looking to continue carrying in PA. First, AG Kane has irritated a lot of people (including members of the legislature) by unilaterally amending the reciprocity agreements. It is rumored that several members of the legislature are drafting law changes which would reinstate the reciprocity and prohibit AG Kane from further restricting the right to carry for hundreds of thousands of people. We’ll keep you updated on that progress.

In the mean time, there are 3 ways in which non-residents can still carry in Pennsylvania.

Option 1: Obtain a Pennsylvania non-resident permit:

  • The process for obtaining a PA non-resident permit is very simple IF you already have your home state concealed carry permit. If you already have your home state permit you simply take in a photocopy of your permit and photo ID to any PA sheriff and pay the $20 application fee. They will then mail you your permit when it is ready. The problem, obviously, is Maryland, New York and New Jersey residents have an extremely difficult time obtaining their home state permit and thus the majority aren’t eligible to apply for a PA non-resident permit. For those people, options 2 and 3 will work best.
  • Update: A reader in the comments below has informed us that some PA sheriff’s are giving non-residents a hard time when they apply for permits. We recommend calling the sheriff before you make the drive to verify there won’t be any problems.

Option 2: Open Carry

  • In PA anyone who is of legal age and otherwise not prohibited from possessing a firearm may open carry their loaded handgun without any kind of permit statewide except for in the city of Philadelphia. That means a NJ, MD or NY resident could simply open carry their gun and not worry about what AG Kane does with the reciprocity agreements. Open carry is a constitutional right in PA (everywhere except in Philly, go figure) and you don’t need any kind of permit to do it. For reasons we’ve mentioned in the past, we’re big open carry advocates and encourage non-residents to do it until this mess gets sorted out. If AG Kane doesn’t like a bunch of non-residents open carrying in her state then she can change the reciprocity agreements back to the way they worked before. If you plan on open carrying in PA (or carrying anywhere, ever) you should already have the Legal Heat app or book. For those of you without the Legal Heat app or book, there are a few things about open carrying in PA that you need to know about. First, as has already been mentioned, you can’t open carry in Philadelphia without a permit that is valid in PA. Second, you can’t open carry in a state park without a permit. And third, you can’t open carry in a vehicle without a permit that is valid in PA. The vehicle problem, however, is solved by option 3 below.

Option 3: If you have a permit from ANYWHERE you can carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle in PA:

  • Even though a NY, MD or NJ resident may not be able to carry a concealed firearm in PA for a while, they can still have a loaded handgun in a vehicle while driving in PA so long as they have any other state permit (Utah, Arizona, Florida, etc). 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106(b)(11), provides that any person may carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle so long as they have “a valid and lawfully issued license for that firearm which has been issued under the laws of the United States or any other state.” Those of you who are looking to have a loaded handgun in your vehicle while in PA will still be able to do so so long as you have any state permit.

In summary, this change does not affect PA residents at all and those of you in MD, NY or NJ (or any other state) who have taken our class will still be able to carry in over 30 states with your Utah or Arizona permits. You can also still have a loaded handgun in your vehicle in PA (so long as you have any permit) and if you wish to carry outside of your vehicle and can’t obtain a PA permit, you can still open carry everywhere except for Philadelphia.

Considering there have been ZERO negative incidents involving permitted non-residents carrying in PA, we hope AG Kane comes to her senses and reverts back to the prior reciprocity agreements. Until then, we hope this post provides a resource for those of you looking to carry in PA but are unable to obtain a PA non-resident permit.

For those of you in PA, MD, NJ or NY who are looking to obtain your permits, Legal Heat will be back in the area in the next few weeks teaching several classes. Click here to view our entire schedule.

STATES THAT CURRENTLY HONOR THE UTAH PERMIT

STATES THAT CURRENTLY HONOR THE UTAH PERMIT

PERMITS THAT ARE CURRENTLY HONORED BY PENNSYLVANIA

PERMITS THAT ARE CURRENTLY HONORED BY PENNSYLVANIA

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, either by car or plane. Also, remember to pick up a copy of the Legal Heat 50 State Gun Law book or app (for iPhone, Kindle and Android) before you leave home!

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.

TRANSPORTING A FIREARM WHILE TRAVELING ON AN AIRPLANE

Transporting a Firearm on an Airplane (KSL News Segment) from Legal Heat on Vimeo.

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.

Now that you know, share this article with your friends!

SAFE TRAVELS!

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Today (June 16th) the United States Supreme Court issued a rather curious decision relating to firearm ownership, and more specifically relating to purchasing a firearm from a federal firearm dealer (FFL). Every year hundreds of thousands of Americans will buy firearms to give as gifts for holidays, birthdays, or graduations. Today the Supreme Court did not go so far as to say buying a firearm as a gift is illegal, but they did move that direction.

dontlie-campaign-logo-300x225The case in question is Abramski v. United States. Bruce Abramski had offered to purchase a handgun for his uncle from a local gun store. Bruce Abramski was a former cop who thought he could get a discount on the gun by playing the former cop card. The form that federal regulations required Abramski to fill out (Form 4473) asked whether he was the “actual transferee/buyer” of the gun, and clearly warned that a straw purchaser (namely, someone buying a gun on behalf of another) was not the actual buyer. Abramski falsely answered (according to the court) that he was the actual buyer. Abramski was convicted for knowingly making false statements “with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale” of a gun, 18 U. S. C. §922(a)(6), and for making a false statement “with respect to the in- formation required … to be kept” in the gun dealer’s records, §924(a)(1)(A). The case was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld Abramski’s conviction on a 5-4 split.

A straw purchase is when a person buys a gun on someone else’s behalf, while falsely claiming that it is for him or herself. The straw purchase question on the Form 4473 is worded as follows:

Are you the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm(s) listed on this form? Warning: You are not the actual buyer if you are acquiring the firearm(s) on behalf of another person. If you are not the actual buyer, the dealer cannot transfer the firearm(s) to you. (See Instructions for Question 11.a.) Exception: If you are picking up a repaired firearm(s) for another person, you are not required to answer 11.a. and may proceed to question 11.b.

Many people ask us if they would be able to buy firearm as a gift for a friend or family member considering the above question asks them if they are the “actual buyer”. The answer is yes. It has long been (and still is) the position of the BATFE that you may purchase a firearm from a federal firearm dealer that is intended to be given as a gift. The instructions relating to the above question make this clear (see bolded and underlined portion below):

Question 11.a. Actual Transferee/Buyer: For purposes of this form, you are the actual transferee/buyer if you are purchasing the firearm for yourself or otherwise acquiring the firearm for yourself (e.g., redeeming the firearm from pawn/retrieving it from consignment, firearm raffle winner). You are also the actual transferee/buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party. ACTUAL TRANSFEREE/BUYER EXAMPLES: Mr. Smith asks Mr. Jones to purchase a firearm for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith gives Mr. Jones the money for the firearm. Mr. Jones is NOT THE ACTUAL TRANS- FEREE/BUYER of the firearm and must answer “NO” to question 11.a. The licensee may not transfer the firearm to Mr. Jones. However, if Mr. Brown goes to buy a firearm with his own money to give to Mr. Black as a present, Mr. Brown is the actual transferee/buyer of the firearm and should answer “YES” to question 11.a. However, you may not transfer a firearm to any person you know or have reasonable cause to believe is prohibited under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), (n), or (x). Please note: EXCEPTION: If you are picking up a repaired firearm(s) for another person, you are not required to answer 11.a. and may proceed to question 11.b.

The problem in the Abramski case (according to the government) is that it was not a gift. Abramski was essentially using his Uncle’s money and direction to buy a gun on his behalf, to save his uncle the hassle of filling out the paperwork. Understand, Abramski’s uncle was not prohibited in any way from purchasing the firearm, he was not a felon or otherwise prohibited from purchasing/owning guns. Had his uncle been a felon it would have been a clear cut straw purchase case. Instead, the law abiding uncle simply wanted his nephew to buy a gun for him. Imagine a relative who has physical limitations that prevent them from going to the local gun store, or is unable to read or write, and has asked you to purchase a firearm for them. That is essentially the issue in dispute in this case and what the Supreme Court criminalized today.

Although Justice Kagan does a very bad job of writing the majority decision (no surprise, she also does a very bad job of being a Supreme Court Justice in my opinion), there are a few things we can glean from it that may help keep you out of trouble:

  • Buying a firearm from a federal firearm dealer for someone else who has either given you money to purchase it, or is going to give you money to purchase it, is never ok. People generally do not pay for gifts, so if they are paying for it they need to buy it themselves.
  • Someone who gives you specific directions or requests relating to what gun to buy (even if they are not paying you for it) is now questionable. Prior to this decision I would have told a client that there is no problem with buying a gift for someone who has specifically requested a certain gun, so long as no money changes hands and no agency relationship is formed. After all, who doesn’t tell their parents, spouse, or friend what gun they would like before they receive it as a gift? However, this decision muddies the water a little on whether specific directions on firearm purchases are indeed straw purchases. Justice Kagan worded it as follows:
    • The individual who sends a straw to a gun store to buy a firearm is transacting with the dealer, in every way but the most formal; and that distinguishes such a person from one who buys a gun, or receives a gun as a gift, from a private party.”  (emphasis added) Abramski v. United States, 706 F.3d 307 (4th Cir. 2013) cert. granted, 134 S. Ct. 421,(U.S. June 16, 2014).
  • Buying a firearm purely as a gift (with no remuneration, direction or specific request) is still ok. You would answer line 11a as “yes”.
  • Guns Intended as Raffle Prizes are still ok. As Justice Scalia words it, “The Government considers the man at the counter the true purchaser even if he is buying the gun “for the purpose of raffling [it] at an event”—in which case he can provide his own information on Form 4473 and “transfer the firearm to the raffle winner without a Form 4473 being completed or a [background] check being conducted” on the winner, [unless state law requires one].” (see: 2005 ATF Guide 195)

If you’ve taken a Legal Heat class in the last 6 years you have heard us teach that someone paying you to purchase a firearm from a FFL on their behalf has always been a bad idea, even if the other person is completely law-abiding. Now we know the Supreme Court believes it is a federal crime to do so. We will provide updates on this rather ambiguous decision as they come.

Remember, none of the straw purchase regulations apply to private part sales if your state allows for such.

Have you heard about the recent court ruling that overturned the ban on firearms on post office property? Online gun forums have been buzzing about it, major news outlets have written about it, and even many of my fellow firearm instructors were singing its praises at a recent instructor course I attended. The only problem is the law prohibiting firearms on postal property is still very much alive, and the case everyone is talking about didn’t do any of the things everyone thinks it did.

Let’s start from the beginning. In 1972, the Postal Service enacted 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ), which provides:

Weapons and explosives. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule or regulation, no person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.
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As you can see, the regulation not only prohibits carrying a firearm into a post office building, but it also prohibits firearm possession (or storage) anywhere on postal property.  A violation of this regulation may result in a fine, imprisonment up to thirty days, or both. Although it is rarely enforced with regards to USPS parking lots, there are several cases of unfortunate self-defense enthusiasts getting hit with charges for merely storing firearms in their vehicles on postal property.
38 years after the USPS enacted their prohibition against firearms, one brave Colorado resident named Tab Bonidy wrote a letter to his local post office in Avon, Colorado (population 6,365) asking them if he would be prosecuted for carrying his firearm onto the post office property. Legal counsel for the post office responded with a resounding yes, stating:
“The regulations governing Conduct on Postal Property prevent [Mr. Bonidy] from carrying firearms, openly or concealed, onto any real property under the charge and control of the Postal Service…. There are limited exceptions to this policy that would not apply here.”

 

If your name was Tab Bonidy, you could legally store a firearm in this parking lot.

If your name was Tab Bonidy, you could legally store a firearm in this parking lot. But your name isn’t Tab Bonidy, so you’d just go to jail.

Given that Mr. Bonidy wasn’t about to give up defending himself or collecting his mail, he did the only logical thing he could think of and went postal  sued the USPS. In his complaint Mr. Bonidy claimed  39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ) violated his second amendment right to keep and bear arms. On July 9, 2013 a United States Judicial District Court for the District of Colorado agreed with him and issued an injunction prohibiting USPS from enforcing 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ). Great news! The problem is the court issued a very limited ruling. So narrow in fact that the ruling apparently only applies to Mr. Bonidy and the parking lot of the Avon Post Office, under the specific circumstances set forth in the case. Unless your name is Tab Bonidy and you are looking to carry a gun in the parking lot of the Avon Post Office, this case doesn’t really help you. To be concise, the court’s ruling was worded as follows:
ORDERED, that the Defendants take such action as is necessary to permit Tab Bonidy to use the public parking lot adjacent to the Avon Post Office Building with a firearm authorized by his Concealed Carry Permit secured in his car in a reasonably prescribed manner. Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Serv., No. 10-CV-02408-RPM, 2013 WL 3448130 (D. Colo. July 9, 2013)
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As evidenced by the court’s order, the court doesn’t attempt to overturn 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ) nor does it extend its ruling anywhere outside of the Avon post office. The judicial district court ruling on this case was one of 94 different judicial district courts in America. Although the Bonidy decision sets great precedent, it is unfortunately not binding on the other 93 districts. Unless you want to be the test case for your district, you probably don’t want to start carrying on postal property.
In sum, even though the Bonidy case is great and we all wish it overturned the prohibition against carrying on postal property, it simply doesn’t.  For most of us, it is still every bit as illegal to possess a firearm on postal property today as it has been since 1972. Now that you know, tell your friends.