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.

Many of you are aware that Legal Heat has spent the last 6 months fighting with the Illinois State Police to obtain our Illinois Instructor certification (as non-Illinois residents we had a much harder time, an ISP is as helpful and transparent as one might imagine). The good news is we have obtained our certifications and have already began instructing Illinois permit classes. Our first class was last weekend at the Hoffman Estates Cabelas store, and our next class at that location will be on March 13, 2014 (click here to read more about that upcoming class). The class was s great success and we’re thankful for those that attended, some of whom waited several months for us. Here are some photos from that class, make sure to let your friends and family know about our March 13th class so they can signup before it fills! Thanks again to all those who attended our inaugural course, we’re looking forward to helping Illinois residents obtain their permits for many years to come!

We had a great group, many of whom had waited several months for Legal Heat to obtain our certifications. We're also very thankful to Cabela's for working with us to offer these courses.

We had a great group, many of whom had waited several months for Legal Heat to obtain our certifications. We’re also very thankful to Cabela’s for working with us to offer these courses.

photo 2-2 photo 3 photo 4-2

Legal Heat instructor and Glock aficionado Dustin recently made a fantastic series of videos that cover how to completely disassemble a Glock, disassemble a Glock Mag, and reassemble them both. For an M&P guy like me who happens to own a few Glocks (but is far from a Glock armorer), these videos were the best I’ve ever seen. This is one you’ll want to keep bookmarked for that special time at 2am when you’ve got a reassembled Glock, and 3 extra Glock pieces laying on your workbench!

 

 

If you feel a little downtrodden with regards to the Second Amendment lately, take a look at the below graphic and take comfort in knowing our Second Amendment rights have expanded dramatically in the past 20 years. Legal Heat is now approaching the 100,000 landmark for students who we’ve helped obtain concealed firearm permits. Our nation has a LONG way to go and Legal Heat will continue our mission to “Arm America”, but we should all take heart in realizing we’ve come an incredibly long way in a short amount of time. Here’s to seeing more green states and less yellow state in the next few years!

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As most of you are aware, Legal Heat travels the country each month certifying thousands of people to obtain their concealed firearm permits. One of the most common questions we get asked in our classes is, “what is the best concealed carry insurance/legal protection product?” As a result of all of these inquiries, Legal Heat has been on a quest to find the best firearm defense liability insurance/protection in the business. We don’t take the endorsement of products lightly, and so we wanted to make absolutely sure we vetted each option as best we could. Since November I have spoken with or met with nearly every major provider of firearm liability protection in America. They all have their merits, but for us there is one clear industry leader, CCW Safe.

TO LEARN MORE OR ENROLL IN CCW SAFE PROTECTION CLICK HERE

First let’s discuss what firearm defense protection is all about.

If you are involved in a self-defense shooting your first priority is survival. Once survival is secured,  not having your life destroyed by an unbelievably expensive and emotionally draining legal battle now becomes your priority. That is where liability protection comes in. You pay a monthly or annual premium and gain the peace of mind of knowing you’ll be more financially secure and legally protected should such need arise. In the liability protection world there are two options, insurance products and service products.

Insurance Products:

Many of the insurance products currently available sound great on the surface, until you read the fine print and discover that (for many) you must first use your own money to hire an attorney, then afterwards submit your claim to the insurance company for reimbursement.  Not only is it extremely discomforting to imagine the insurance company denying your claim, it is also economically impossible for most people to come up with the funds required to hire an attorney in the first place. George Zimmerman’s legal defense cost 2.5 million dollars. If you were in Zimmerman’s position and had purchased many of the insurance products out there, you would could have been required to front the 2.5 million dollars and then later on submit your claim for reimbursement. I don’t know about you, but I personally question my ability to raise $25,000 overnight, let alone 2.5 million. Another huge downfall of insurance products is many have claim limits.  Self-defense criminal cases can cost much more than most people imagine. When you walk into an attorney’s office and he tells you your case may run into the hundreds of thousands, you don’t want to worry about claim limits. For all these reasons and more, we have decided to personally (and professionally) choose the service product offered by CCW Safe over competing insurance options. Although we’ve chosen to purchase CCW Safe coverage, I want to make it abundantly clear that we are not saying competing products (such as those offered by our industry friends USCCA or the NRA) are bad. USCCA and the NRA are great organizations, we simply feel CCW Safe provides the most protection and best value for our needs. It should also be noted that there is nothing that prevents you from obtaining multiple protection plans (CCW Safe & USCCA Law Shield), there’s no such thing as too much protection.

Service Product (CCW Safe):

As opposed to many insurance products, CCW Safe does not require you to front the costs of your legal defense and has no claim limits. CCW Safe also covers the costs of investigators and expert witnesses (which many of the competitors do not). Additionally, one of the best benefits of CCW Safe is their emergency hotline. In the wake of a self-defense shooting, all you need to do is make one call to CCW Safe’s emergency hotline and they’ll take care of the rest. They will quickly arrange legal counsel, investigators, and expert witnesses who will go to bat for you. As a former prosecutor myself, I can tell you the quicker a defendant has an attorney, the better. Those who spend weeks trying to find the right attorney waste crucial time and risk getting swallowed alive by the legal system. In a self-defense shooting you need a good attorney, and you need one yesterday! CCW Safe can offer the peace of mind of knowing that you’ve got a full legal team in your pocket. Finally, CCW Safe is available to anyone in America so long as they have any concealed firearm permit.

It should be noted that CCW Safe does not cover civil judgments or punitive damages (should you lose your case). The reason this is not a major concern for me is simply because losing a criminal case (such as a second degree murder trial) would result in a complete destruction of my life as I know it. Jail time, careers ending, family being torn apart…all of these things would take precedence over how much damages I’ll have to pay the court. My primary concern is obtaining good legal defense protection at an affordable price, and CCW Safe provides exactly that. 

Quick Comparison

How CCW Safe Works:

Notification: Immediately upon being involved in a critical self defense incident, you will need to notify CCW Safe.  First, notify 911 and request help and medical support.  Next, notify CCW Safe by calling the 24 hour emergency number on your membership card.  You will talk to an attorney who will give you guidance on your next action.  You will be instructed to give a very basic statement.  This statement should include your name, the fact that you are a victim and were forced to defend yourself, identifying the suspect, any witnesses, and present your ccw permit and CCW Safe membership card.  You will be instructed to advise authorities that you have legal representation and that you would like to give a full statement in the presence of your attorney. CCW Safe attorneys may initiate an investigative response team to begin investigation on your incident.

Official Interview: CCW Safe attorneys will attempt to secure a 24 – 48 hour window before any statement is given.  This is based on the fact that all parties involved will want the most accurate account of the incident.  Once that interview is scheduled, you may give an official statement after consultation with your attorney.  You will be advised not to talk to anyone, not even your family and friends about the incident until the official interview is complete.  Even after this interview, you will be advised to keep strict discretion about any conversation regarding the incident until the decision is made by the District Attorney or States Attorney on whether any charges will be filed.   Any media requests for interviews should be directed to your legal counsel.

Determination Phase: There will be a period of time, ranging from days to weeks that will determine if any criminal charges will be filed.  In the case of civil or administrative action, this period of time may be much longer, possibly up to a year or two.  During this time, CCW Safe will retain all investigative reports, interview reports and other reports necessary to prepare for the “next fight” if needed.

Preparation: It is always possible that civil action and/or criminal charges could be filed. In a civil case (one where someone sues you for causing them an injury based on negligence) there is a long period called discovery. This is the mechanism that all parties have to learn about what evidence there is and what evidence they intend to put on at the time of trial. This is a n incredibly costly process of meetings with witnesses, experts, deposition testimony, etc. This all has to be done in advance of a trial. In a criminal charge, there is no discovery phase. There are no depositions. But, there are witness meetings in an attempt to prepare the best possible defense. CCWSafe will provide the lawyers for our members at no cost to the member. This is a savings of tens of thousands of dollars.

Defense Phase: The defense phase is the actual trial process.  Again, this can last a long time and can be a very stressful time, perhaps the most stressful time of your entire life.  CCW Safe will provide representation throughout the trial process, and even into retrials or appeals if necessary.  And remember, no additional fees are charged to the member for this.

How to Enroll:

Enrolling in CCW Safe is easy, simply click here or visit www.ccwsafe.com/legalheat