Transporting Handguns Across State Lines VA-MD?


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dspur15
March 4, 2011, 02:38 AM
Alright I want to take two handguns (.22 Colt Diamondback and a .22 Colt Woodsman) from Virginia to Maryland. I'm 19 years old so I obviously don't have a Concealed Carry Permit.

I don't know what all the applicable laws would be and if anyone knows then if you could give me the info I need that would be great. I know it's also smart to confirm this stuff but I just don't know where firearms laws concerning interstate travel are listed or how these interact with state and local laws.

All I DO know is that it is legal to posses a handgun in VA if you are 18 or older which I am. I also believe that there are several BATFE laws that cover interstate firearms transport but I don't know where to find these, or what they are, or if they take precedent over state and local laws, ect.

If it matters it would be from Accomack County VA across the Maryland state line into Worcester County.

Alternatively I could have a MD resident who is 21 meet me at the border to take them if that would be better?

If anyone can help me out that would be great. I plan on taking them to my friends farm sometime next week so I need to figure this out as soon as possible. Thanks!

Well here's an update from some info I found on NRA-ILA http://www.nraila.org/GunLaws/#?st=MD


Carrying or Transporting Firearms in a Vehicle

While engaged in, or traveling to and from a target shoot, formal or informal target practice, sport shooting event, hunting, trapping, or dog obedience training class or show

During transportation to and from the above places the handgun must be unloaded and carried in an enclosed case or enclosed holster.

This is about Maryland and I would be traveling to and from informal target practice so that would be legal and I could lock the pistols in a case in the trunk and wouldn't be carrying ammo so that would be okay too. Main question is what is the possession age of a handgun in MD or if there's any weird interstate laws

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dspur15
March 4, 2011, 03:38 PM
I guess no one knows. I emailed the state police barracks in the county i'm taking them to and may also call the local PD of the town so maybe that will provide me with an answer.

swinokur
March 4, 2011, 09:25 PM
If you are over 18 you can possess. 21 to buy. Keep weapons in trunk unloaded. These are the Interstate FOPA rules. You may not leave the weapon in your vehicle and must go straight to your destination no stopping overnight etc. Meals and gas are generally OK.

MD Gun Laws are Title 4 SS 203.

chris in va
March 5, 2011, 04:22 AM
If you get pulled over, for Pete's sake...don't volunteer information that you have a gun in the trunk.

nalioth
March 5, 2011, 04:28 AM
Alternatively I could have a MD resident who is 21 meet me at the border to take them if that would be better?Assuming you are a Virginian, this most likely would make both of you felons.

Interstate transfers of firearms must go through an FFL.

mgkdrgn
March 5, 2011, 04:53 AM
Assuming you are a Virginian, this most likely would make both of you felons.

Interstate transfers of firearms must go through an FFL.
He isn't "transferring", he is taking them up there to shoot at a friends farm.

As long as he transports them unloaded, in a locked, inaccessible space (trunk), he should be good to go.

nalioth
March 5, 2011, 04:56 AM
Assuming you are a Virginian, this most likely would make both of you felons.

Interstate transfers of firearms must go through an FFL.
He isn't "transferring", he is taking them up there to shoot at a friends farm.

As long as he transports them unloaded, in a locked, inaccessible space (trunk), he should be good to go.Going by his wording, to "take them" means "take possession of" or transfer. You don't have to sell a gun to effect a transfer, you know.

.. and yes, under FOPA, provided the guns are legal where he's going, he should be legal carrying them all by himself.

Just trying to keep folks out of trouble.

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 09:03 AM
If you get pulled over, for Pete's sake...don't volunteer information that you have a gun in the trunk.

If stopped by Police, DO NOT consent to a search. Do not offer any information. Provide ID and then be quiet. You do not have to answer any questions so don't. Talking increases the chance of detention and arrest, no matter the reason.

Sam1911
March 5, 2011, 10:01 AM
These are the Interstate FOPA rulesIf MD is your destination, FOPA does not apply to you in any way. FOPA only covers those states you might be passing through, between your starting and destination states. (Unless you're going by a very circuitous route, there are no other states between VA and MD.) For FOPA to apply, you must be completely in compliance with the laws of both your origin and destination states anyway. So, as MD is your destination state, you can't bypass MD law.

As long as you're following this, "During transportation to and from the above places the handgun must be unloaded and carried in an enclosed case or enclosed holster," you would be in compliance with MD law. I don't see anything in MD law that says an 18-20 year old can't possess a handgun.

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 10:32 AM
FOPA states that you may transport a weapon from any place you may carry and possess to another place you can carry and possess. Where in the law does it say it doesn't protect you if your destination is a state where you can possess?

US Code Chapter 44 SS 926A

(http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00000926---B000-.html)

§ 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.

Sam1911
March 5, 2011, 12:07 PM
If he couldn't lawfully possess the gun in his destination state, or his transportation of it within his destination state would be in violation of that state's laws, he doesn't qualify for FOPA protection.

An example: If you are a resident of NJ, the law doesn't allow you to transport a handgun from your house to a friend's house. Now, it is legal for you to possess the gun in your home, and it is legal (as far as I can tell) for you to possess it at your friend's house, but it isn't legal for you to transport it between the two. FOPA does not step in and override that state law, protecting you while you transport it.

However, if you possess that gun legally in DE and are transporting it through NJ to a destination in PA where you would also be legal, then FOPA does protect you while you're in NJ.

As you have to comply with the laws of your state of origin and you have to comply with the laws of your state of destination, having no intermediate states between origin and destination makes FOPA pretty much irrelevant to the trip.

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 12:22 PM
I agree with that. But VA and MD allow possession so saying FOPA doesn't apply is not true. I am attaching a MD AG opinion that says if your origin and destination are in MD, then MD law applies. If your origin or destination are NOT in MD FOPA applies.

Sam1911
March 5, 2011, 12:48 PM
Maybe I'm misunderstanding you. Perhaps I should have said, "irrelevant." You have to comply with the laws of the state you're in because one is your origin and one is your destination.

All I see in the AG's letter which speaks to this question is this:

The federal law you cite (18 USC 926A) applies to the interstate transportation of a firearm (handgun or long arm) and supersedes Maryland law. It would have no bearing on the transportation of a firearm where the origin and destination are both within Maryland. It would however allow for the transportation of a firearm through the State of Maryland regardless of the Maryland law cited above. It doesn't actually say exactly what you said. You suggest that if your origin is not in MD, but your destination is (or vice versa) that FOPA applies to you while you're within MD, and I don't believe this to be so.

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 12:55 PM
agreed. but if you were coming from a non-contiguous state you would still be protected by FOPA if the destination state allowed possession. Going through the state is not mentioned in 926A.

It doesn't actually say exactly what you said. You suggest that if your origin is not in MD, but your destination is (or vice versa) that FOPA applies to you while you're within MD, and I don't believe this to be so.

Are you saying the MD AG's opinion is incorrect.?

Again,FOPA makes no mention of a requirement to have gone through a state to be used as an affirmative defense. That means you can be covered if your destination state allows possession.

Sam1911
March 5, 2011, 01:10 PM
Are you saying the MD AG's opinion is incorrect.?No. I'm saying he didn't specifically address the question. His answer does verify that FOPA covers you while transporting the weapon interstate through MD, but not necessarily if your destination IS MD.

It would be more clear if he'd said something like, "FOPA supersedes MD law if the weapon is being transported into the state from another, or is being transported to another state from MD," but that's not what he said.

Or, he could have said, "If your destination or origin IS MD, while you are within the borders of MD, all MD laws apply." But he didn't say that, exactly, either.

In this case, MD's law and FOPA are very close so maybe he didn't see the distinction as important.

Sam1911
March 5, 2011, 01:14 PM
agreed. but if you were coming from a non-contiguous state you would still be protected by FOPA if the destination state allowed possession. Going through the state is not mentioned in 926A.

If we agree that you must comply with all laws in your state of origin, and must comply with all laws in your state of destination in order to fulfill the requirements to be protected by FOPA -- and there is no state in between your origin and destination because they are contiguous -- at what point in your journey does FOPA allow you bypass any state's transport or possession laws?

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 01:15 PM
What did he mean by origination or destination not both being in MD? That seems clear to me. If not both in MD, FOPA applies.

I dunno, maybe I'm not seeing this correctly. I think based on his opinion, you'd be legal complying with either. I am assuming FOPA is more restrictive than state law in most cases so either would suffice.

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 01:19 PM
If we agree that you must comply with all laws in your state of origin, and must comply with all laws in your state of destination in order to fulfill the requirements to be protected by FOPA -- and there is no state in between your origin and destination because they are contiguous -- at what point in your journey does FOPA allow you bypass any state's transport or possession laws?FOPA makes no distinction about contiguous or non contiguous states. It simple says if you are going from a state where you can posses to a destination state where you can posses and transport in the method prescibed, you are in compliance.

While I agree MD law could apply, IMO FOPA would as well. The AG opinion seems to say that IMO.

NavyLCDR
March 5, 2011, 01:31 PM
If we agree that you must comply with all laws in your state of origin, and must comply with all laws in your state of destination in order to fulfill the requirements to be protected by FOPA -- and there is no state in between your origin and destination because they are contiguous -- at what point in your journey does FOPA allow you bypass any state's transport or possession laws?

I think this post of Sam's sums up what I interpret FOPA to mean. FOPA says that if your possession and carry of a firearm is lawful at your origin and destination - which implies that you would be in compliance with those laws at your origin and destination anyway - then FOPA protects you when you traveling through a third state whose laws you would not be in compliance with.

If your origin and destination states are adjacent to each other, and FOPA says it only applies if you are lawful to possess and carry at your origin and destination - than there is simply nowhere in between the two to apply FOPA.

Now, there is one incident where I might see FOPA applied to adjacent states. Let's say you are traveling between Texas and Oklahoma. Texas law requires the gun to be concealed in the vehicle. Oklahoma law, without a CCW, requires the gun to be carried openly in the vehicle or for the gun case be visible. So, you leave Texas with a gun in the trunk of the car, one might be able to reason that FOPA would apply until you reach your final destination in Oklahoma; and until you actually stop in Oklahoma, there would be no need to take the gun out of the trunk and make it visible to comply with Oklahoma law.

In the OP's situation, however, the MD requirements are the same as the FOPA requirements, so I could only see FOPA applying if the OP had not reached his final destination yet and was somehow hassled by the Maryland Police (unlawfully) about his unloaded gun in a locked case. FOPA might allow him to defend his case in Federal court, if the Maryland Courts ruled against him for some reason.

swinokur
March 5, 2011, 01:41 PM
I think Navy LT has distilled the issue pretty succinctly.

It would be interesting to see the outcome of a case like the one he outlines between TX and OK.

I think this horse is very dead.

:o

zxcvbob
March 5, 2011, 01:48 PM
An example: If you are a resident of NJ, the law doesn't allow you to transport a handgun from your house to a friend's house. Now, it is legal for you to possess the gun in your home, and it is legal (as far as I can tell) for you to possess it at your friend's house, but it isn't legal for you to transport it between the two. FOPA does not step in and override that state law, protecting you while you transport it.That's interesting. It seems to directly conflict with the exact wording of the law. I wonder if it's ever been tested? (I agree that it doesn't really apply to OP's situation) In Indiana, a generally gun-friendly state, it's technically not legal to transport your guns from your home to a shooting range unless that shooting range happens to be your fixed place of employment. FOPA might correct that oversight.

NavyLCDR
March 5, 2011, 01:53 PM
In Indiana, a generally gun-friendly state, it's technically not legal to transport your guns from your home to a shooting range unless that shooting range happens to be your fixed place of employment. FOPA might correct that oversight.

Except that the title of FOPA is Interstate Transportation of Firearms. I think the title of FOPA might cause your defense to be limited to only when you're traveling between two or more states, not within one state only. Of course that doesn't stop the Federal government from reaching in and busting you within one state for a violation of the Federal Gun Free School Zone Act - so maybe you could claim the same B.S. the government does and say FOPA applies to you everywhere because, at one time in the past, your gun or part of your gun did move in interstate transportation! :D

wojownik
March 5, 2011, 02:30 PM
MD State Police addresses the OP's question at least in part on their online faq

http://www.mdsp.org/downloads/licensing_faq.pdf

Q. Can I legally transport firearms interstate?
A. Yes, under Title 18, Section 926A, of the United States Code, a person
who is not prohibited from possessing, 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 place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during
such transportation the firearm is unloaded, neither the firearm nor any
ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible
from the passenger compartment. In the case the vehicle does not have a
compartment separate from the driver's compartment the firearm or
ammunition shall be contained in a locked compartment other than the
glove compartment or console.

(note: in practice, you'll want to secure firearms in a locked case/container, within a locked trunk, keeping ammo separate from the cased firearm. Such was the advice given to me by a local officer back when I lived in MD).

Q. How can I transport a handgun without a permit?
A. Maryland and Federal laws require specific conditions be met while
transporting a handgun. Please refer to Maryland Annotated Code,
Criminal Law, Title 4, Section 203 for a detailed account of wearing,
carrying, or transporting a handgun. You may access the Maryland
General Assembly website at http://mlis.state.md.us/ then search for
Criminal Law, Title 4, Section 203, under the Statute Text link.
You can access the Federal requirements through www.atf.gov and
conduct a search for “27 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 178” and then
look for “Transportation of Firearms.”
The basic requirement during transport is the handgun must be unloaded
and in an enclosed case or enclosed holster with the ammunition separate
AND you must be transporting the handgun to or from the locations listed
in statute.

md2lgyk
March 6, 2011, 10:45 AM
Why does everyone think that their vehicle becomes a "cop magnet" because they have a handgun or two in the trunk? Just going back and forth to my gun club I pass through three states. Gun box is in the trunk. Been doing it for nearly 30 years and have NEVER been pulled over. If I am, I will not consent to a search. Simple as that.

kingpin008
March 6, 2011, 11:22 AM
Nobody's saying that their car becomes a "cop magnet". They're merely stating the relevant law in case you are pulled over.

andrewstorm
March 6, 2011, 11:42 AM
oopsi.:o

andrewstorm
March 6, 2011, 11:45 AM
I'm no lawyer,but to be on the safe side of the law i would write a letter to the state police in both jurisdictions,inquiring,as to the legality of your proposed transportation of said firearms,If you get a go ahead letter back keep it with your guns for the duration of the trip,most police well versed with what the general consensus on transporting across state lines,but a few may be un familiar with current laws,or you can get an pre 1899 antique,(some are very shootable) as they are exempt for all practical purposes under fed law ,google pre 1899 F A Q,there's good info on that page.:cool:also I always lock my gun cases and make sure my guns are unloaded, and 3 steps have to be gone thru in order to make the guns operational,sometimes i pull the cylinders and stow them separately,any officer that stops me,can plainly see that im in compliance with almost any states laws,since im not a felon,and have no criminal record and not breaking any other laws you should be ok,but a letter will shure make you feel better

kingpin008
March 6, 2011, 02:22 PM
I wish people would stop suggesting using the police as the yardstick of whether something is legal or not. The police are NOT legal experts, and are under no legal obligation to provide you with the relevant statutes. A letter from them (should they see fit to send you one) absolving you of guilt should you follow X rules is generally worth the paper it's printed on. It holds no legal weight, and will not save you in court should you unwittingly violate the law.

The actual, real-life laws are accessible by anyone with an internet connection and unlike the local PD, are 100% accurate. If you really feel the need to have an intermediary explain them to you, hire a lawyer or write to the state AG. They're specifically trained to deal directly with the law.

Also, the suggestion to get a pre-1899 gun for transport is poor advice, since while they may not be Federally classified as firearms on a Federal level, you'd be hard pressed to find a cop in the nation that wouldn't consider it a firearm and treat you acordingly if they found you transporting it in a manner not in accordance with their state law. You can argue that the Feds don't consider it a firearm all you want, waiting for your lawyer in the county jail.

Sam1911
March 6, 2011, 05:17 PM
Also, the suggestion to get a pre-1899 gun for transport is poor advice, since while they may not be Federally classified as firearms on a Federal level, you'd be hard pressed to find a cop in the nation that wouldn't consider it a firearm and treat you acordingly if they found you transporting it in a manner not in accordance with their state law.

Kingpin has a very good point that is often overlooked. The laws that exempt antique weapons from firearms rules tend to apply to purchase, shipping, possession, etc. An antique may not be a "firearm" under federal law, and yet may still be a "deadly weapon" under state law. Tread cautiously with that.

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