Road Tripping: legal problems?


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Nightcrawler
July 27, 2005, 03:01 AM
Okay. Right now I'm in Knoxville, Tennessee, visiting a buddy of mine from overseas. Having a great time, and it's very likely I'll be moving down here in January. (Still want to go west eventually, but I have connections and job contacts here.)

Anyway, my trip will be taking me from here to Virginia, and from there to Maine, and then back to Michigan. I have my FAL rifle, ammo, and two handguns with me (we did quite a bit of shooting here).

I'm a little fuzzy on the transporting laws in some states. The weapons are in hard cases, unloaded, in my trunk. Are there any States I need to avoid? I'm to understand that bringing my 20 round FAL magazines into New Jersey could cause problems, but by-passing that State won't put me two far out of my way.

My rifle is illegal in New York State, I think, but I understand that as long as I don't stop while in NY, transporting the weapon doesn't constitute an offense (fortunately, my route takes me through only a little of New York).

Massachussets might also present some problems. Anybody know for sure? I'm on vacation, trying to have fun after my year in the desert, and am minding my own business. I don't want to end up in jail over a misunderstanding.

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MarkDido
July 27, 2005, 07:58 AM
Go to www.packing.org

They have information on all the states. You will be able to research whether or not the states you will be transiting have "peaceable journey" laws.

New York State does not

Good luck!

Rupestris
July 27, 2005, 08:29 AM
I contacted NY a couple years ago when planing my vacation there.

I was told "Handguns are NOT to be brought into the state".

You'd be better of leaving those firearms with me. :neener: I'll meet you at the Michigan border on I-75.

Don't worry about 'em getting lonely, I'll tuck them away with mine at night and give them plenty of exercise during the day.

Control Group
July 27, 2005, 09:18 AM
Disclaimer: I follow all laws to the fullest extent feasible, regardless of whether or not I think they're idiotic. My state doesn't allow CCW, so I don't carry. My state doesn't allow loaded guns in the cabin of the car, so they don't go there.

That Being Said(tm), you've taken every reasonable (and, really, unreasonable - there's no logical reason a cased firearm in the trunk has to be unloaded) step to be compliant with the laws to the best of your ability. If the guns are cased and in the trunk, I simply wouldn't worry about it. Even if you get stopped on the way for some reason, as long as you don't give consent to search your trunk, you're in the clear.

Yes, there is a non-zero percent chance that you will get stopped by an officer with a wild hair up his you-know-what, who will invent probable cause and detain you until he manages to gin up a warrant to search your trunk, in which case, in NY, you're screwed.

OTOH, if that happens, you're already screwed, so I don't think you've got much to lose. So, as a law-abiding (but non-lawyer) citizen, my advice is to leave them in your trunk, cased and unloaded, for the whole trip. That will keep you perfectly legal in every state that doesn't have completely asinine travel laws, and for the remainder, it's a "don't ask, don't tell" situation.

Hawkmoon
July 27, 2005, 01:58 PM
The first step is to distinguish between those states you are traveling TO and those states you will be traveling THROUGH.

The federal Firearms Owners Protective Act (FOPA) is what allows for "safe journeys." Not a direct citation, but from memory it essentially provides that if the firearm is legal for you to possess in the state where the trip begins and the state where the trip ends, you can carry it (them) THROUGH other states "in the normal course of travel" if the firearms are unloaded, in locked containers, and carried in the trunk (if you have a sedan) or the rear luggage area, away from the driver's immediate access.

The law doesn't get this detailed, but it seems there is some consensus that stopping for gas, potty breaks and food is considered to be in the normal course of travel. Stopping for the night at a hotel located right next to the Interstate might also be protected. Once you deviate from travel THROUGH the state, however, the FOPA no longer applies. So if you're going from Pennsylvania to Maine, you can go through New York and New Jersey, but if you stop in Newark to have lunch with Auntie Maude at her home half an hour west of the turnpike, then you're going TO New Jersey and you become subject the NJ laws regarding firearms.

Key point is that the firearms must be legal for you to possess at the place where the journey begins and the place where the journey ends.

Tory
July 27, 2005, 03:09 PM
"They have information on all the states. You will be able to research whether or not the states you will be transiting have "peaceable journey" laws."


What a state may have for "peaceable journey" laws is of no importance. As set forth above, FEDERAL law controls.


As also suggested above, use www.packing.org to help determine what states you would be legal having guns in, which determines which states you can legally transport TO, thus invoking the protection of FOPA.

Hawkmoon
July 27, 2005, 04:02 PM
In the case of a multi-state, multi- destination trip things may get a bit confusing. For example, you went from MI to TN. Tennessee is a stop-over, so even though you'll be proceeding from there to other places, TN for you is a TO state, a destination, not a "through" state.

You wrote that next you are going "to" Virginia. Assuming that means you will stop there to visit with someone, VA will also be a "to" state. The FOPA will cover you while transiting any states between TN and VA (don't have a map or an atlas in front of me), but does not cover you while you are still in TN and does not cover you while you will be in VA.

From VA to ME you will transit a number of states, and unless you really enjoy driving you're looking at a minimum of one overnight stop. FOPA does not apply in VA because that's where the trip begins. FOPA will not apply in ME because that's where the trip (that portion of it) will end. FOPA will apply to all states in between -- as long as you don't engage in any "end destination" type of activities. The FOPA uses a phrase something like "in the normal course of travel." That would certainly allow for buying gas, making pit stops, and eating adjacent to the highway. IANAL -- I *think* it should also cover you for an overnight stop, since we should not be expected to drive non-stop from one end of the country to the other without sleep "in the normal course of travel," but I can't cite any case law as precedent.

I have read (somewhere, awhile ago and to my very great amazement) that MA is actually up to speed on FOPA. They are draconian to their own residents regarding firearms and especially handguns and CCW, but they apparently know about the FOPA. It would not be a bad idea, however, to look it up and print out a half dozen or so copies to carry with you.

From VA to ME, BTW, it is possible to plan a route that entirely avoids NJ and NYC, running up through PA on I-81 to Scranton, then heading east on I-84. You will pass through a corner of NY state before hitting CT, but it will be a more rural part of the state and not quite as paranoid and anti as the City itself.

MarkDido
July 27, 2005, 04:20 PM
What a state may have for "peaceable journey" laws is of no importance. As set forth above, FEDERAL law controls.


Tory,

Thanks! I must be behind in my reading!

Mannlicher
July 27, 2005, 07:11 PM
If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one to hear it, does it still make noise?
If you drive from point A to point B, and you keep your nose clean, and are not noticed, have you committed a crime?

jefnvk
July 27, 2005, 08:07 PM
While that is an option, Mannlicher, it probably isn't the best option. Some one backs into you at a gas station, police come to take a report, find the guns, boom, you are in the slammer. Even though you didn't do anything to attract the police's attention.

I do believe Hawk's is the correct explination, but IANAL.

Hawkmoon
July 27, 2005, 11:20 PM
As I said, IANAL. The law you want is US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44, Section 926A. Here's what it says, and you can decide for yourself what it means:

§ 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

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.

R.H. Lee
July 27, 2005, 11:26 PM
If you drive from point A to point B, and you keep your nose clean, and are not noticed, have you committed a crime?
No. You've only committed a crime when you've been found guilty in a court of law. That's my opinion and anyone who has a different opinion is entitled to it I'm not gonna argue with you.

chris in va
July 28, 2005, 01:29 AM
A couple points, make *sure* it's in a LOCKED container...as in padlock, and keep the guns/containers out of your 'wingspan'. If you can reach them from the driver's seat, it's not far enough away...locked or not.

Hawkmoon
July 28, 2005, 11:11 AM
No. You've only committed a crime when you've been found guilty in a court of law. That's my opinion and anyone who has a different opinion is entitled to it I'm not gonna argue with you.
??????

By this logic, if you rob a bank, embezzle several million dollars from your employer, or quietly murder a dozen homeless people in the park late at night you haven't committed any crimes -- until you are not only caught, but also convicted in court? Sorry. You are welcome to your opinion, but I have to disagree. You commit a crime by engaging in the act. Conviction in court doesn't change the fact that you committed an illegal act, it only confirms that society has decided that they know you did it.

cfabe
July 28, 2005, 11:30 AM
Last summer I went on a camping trip from my home in ohio to vermont, new hampshire and maine. We had handguns and long guns with us. When passing through new york, the guns were unloaded, in a padlocked hard case, and in the trunk underneath everything else. Didn't break any traffic laws and didn't attract attention, had no problems. This would be what I suggest.

OEF_VET
July 29, 2005, 01:35 AM
NC,

The info cited above regarding "Peaceable Journey" is correct. You are covered by FOPA (BTW, that's also the law which bans manufacture of transferrable MG's.) and under the McClure-Volkmerr Interstate Commerce Act.

Where are you heading to in Maine? That's where my folks live. It's a nice place to visit, you'll like it. It resembles MI in a lot of places. On your way there, stop in Kittery, just across the NH line, right off of I-95, and visit the Kittery Trading Post. You'll think you've died and gone to Gun-Heaven. They have rows upon rows of beautiful firearms for you to peruse, fondle and purchase (IAW all relevant laws).

If you do decide to move here to TN, don't forget you have some as-of-yet-unmet friends here in middle TN who'd love for you to join them at one of our trips to the range.

Take care and I hope you don't run into any hired assassins in roadside restrooms.

Nightcrawler
July 29, 2005, 01:46 AM
A move to Tennessee is almost guaranteed at this point. While going back to my old school won't cost me too much...heck, I was going to come down here anyway. Jobs, you know. I have good contacts down here. Good jobs to be had.

Can't be said of Northern Michigan.

Probably October, I'll make the big move. Kind of nervous, heading southward. Never lived in Dixie before.

I've actually be called a "yankee" since I"ve been here. :uhoh:

Seems like a nice place, though, and U of T/Knoxville seems like a good school.

NukemJim
July 29, 2005, 07:05 AM
FOPA does not apply in VA because that's where the trip begins. FOPA will not apply in ME because that's where the trip (that portion of it) will end. FOPA will apply to all states in between

A question please. I am familiar with FOPA but I am not heard of the the state you are departing from and arriving to being excluded from FOPA coverage :confused:

I was under the impression that as long as it was an interstate journey you were OK :confused:

Any information would be apprectiated.

Thanks

NukemJim

Tory
July 29, 2005, 07:30 AM
you must be in legal possession of the firearm(s) in BOTH your state of origin AND your destination state. Therefore, if you were going TO NJ or NY from pretty much ANYWHERE in the country, FOPA would almost certainly not apply.

Echo Tango
July 29, 2005, 10:27 AM
A move to Tennessee is almost guaranteed at this point.

Good thing too NC, You left your Flashlight on the computer desk. You want me to mail it to you or just wait and come back to get it. Had a great time seeing you bro, glad you came down.



Echo Tango


The Phoenicians were not great philosophers... they pondered the simpler questions, like "If I stick this spear in you, can I take your stuff?", "Do you have relatives that would be mad if I took your stuff?", and "Can my relatives beat up your relatives?"

Hawkmoon
July 29, 2005, 10:28 AM
NukemJim --

You are correct -- but only insofar as the actual interstate journey is concerned.

Let's say our protagonist is legal in TN and in ME. He packs the guns in the trunk of his car in accordance with the FOPA and sets off for ME. He is covered by the FOPA (as I read it, and I reiterate that IANAL) up until the moment he rolls into his friend's driveway and shuts off the engine. At that point, his journey (his interstate travel) has ended and he immediately becomes subject to the laws of the state of Maine, which will continue to apply for the duration of his visit, up to the moment when he fires up the engine for the interstate trip back to Michigan.

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