FOPA on foot?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Elkins45, Oct 13, 2016.

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  1. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I'm contemplating hiking the Appalachian Trail when I retire in a couple of years. I was looking at a map and for some reason it only now dawned on me that the AT passes through some very 2A unfriendly states. I know the ultralight purists would be scandalized, but I probably will carry at least some form of a firearm on the trail.

    So here's the question: since the gun I would carry is legal in the state I left from and legal in the state where my trip would finish, does the Firearm Owners Protection Act protect me on a foot journey between the two points? I realize that carrying in a concealment holster wouldn't be legal in NJ, for one, but would storing the unloaded gun in my backpack meet the requirement of FOPA during my walk through that state?

    This is more than a hypothetical question. Wonder if I should send an inquiry to the NJ AG for an opinion?
     
  2. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    How do you see this as applying to someone walking?

    In any case, cops in the bad gun law states mostly don't give a hoot about FOPA. The cops will just arrest you and let you languish in jail while you try to make bail.
     
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  3. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Here is the full text of the FOPA. The use of a "transporting vehicle" is assumed, and it is hard to see how a firearm carried on the person would not be "readily accessible". Further, there are few places where a person would be likely to carry a firearm on the person, on foot, between less restrictive states through a restrictive state (though the few miles from VA to PA through MD would be one).

    "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 firearms 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."

    Jim
     
  4. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Given that NJ regularly ignores the FOPA protections in prosecutions, figuring most people won't have the resources to fight in court, I don't think you stand much chance of success no matter what FOPA says.
     
  5. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    IIRC both the Second and the Third Circuits have ruled that the transport provisions of the FOPA apply only to transportation of a gun in a vehicle.
     
  6. unclenunzie
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    unclenunzie Contributing Member

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    Having lived (until fairly recently) for most of my life in NJ I can tell you that just by attitudes, it is certain you would be arrested for violating state firearms law. A conviction would surely follow. As per Mr. Ettin's post, you'd have no FOPA protection to assert an affirmative defense....

    Even if FOPA did apply to unloaded secured transport while walking in NJ, if you decided to stop in the state for almost any reason, FOPA would cease to apply because NJ just became a destination state.
     
  7. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    I know it is a little less than 1/2 of the total trail, but if you started in Virginia and finished in Georgia, you would miss all those states and still cover 500ish miles.
     
  8. Kendal Black

    Kendal Black Member

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    I tried to work out the same puzzle of restrictions some years back and came up with no solution. If "keep and bear arms" were interpreted as a literal limitation on government interference, all would be well for you to hike from Georgia to Maine with a gun along. It is in a way a picture of our times that when you want to do something perfectly reasonable you can't.

    How about bear spray and a nice stout stick?

    PS--Bear spray does not only work on bears.
     
  9. swinokur

    swinokur Member

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    correct.
     
  10. toivo

    toivo Member

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    [​IMG]
    ?
     
  11. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I was thinking the same thing. What constitutes a "vehicle?"
     
  12. johnandersonoutdoors

    johnandersonoutdoors Member

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    Seems to me that if it is restricted to a vehicle, then this rules-law hurts the poor. This is unfair and maybe we should be fighting this angle.
     
  13. Red Wind

    Red Wind Member

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    The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is gun friendly all the way. It's 3100 miles vs 2000 for the Appalachian.

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  14. denton

    denton Member

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    We had a fellow from Utah run afoul of gun unfriendly laws in NJ or NY, thinking he was protected by FOPA. Part of the legal stuff that followed said that once you stop for the night, you're no longer travelling, and no longer protected by FOPA.
     
  15. Saw-Bones

    Saw-Bones Member

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    You'll never know unless you ask. There are units, if not the whole area in the Everglades National Park where horses are considered "vehicles".

    Ask and get back to us!
     
  16. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Texas law has long had a defense against prosecution for carrying while traveling. Despite many attempts to clarify what that means, the Texas legislature has just left it standing as is--even through concealed to licensed carry.

    The considered opinion from the AGs office is that means it's up to the county prosecutor in the county where you are arrested to make his case as to whether you were or were not traveling at the time of your arrest, and he has to get 12 people to agree with him.

    This remains a bit of a thorny issue for those of us who care about our laws, and would like commonsense definitions on how they are to be obeyed without having to risk winding up in a courtroom.
     
  17. jaytex1969

    jaytex1969 Member

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    It was clarified some years ago. And the wording seems also vehicle oriented. You are to be presumed "traveling" if you meet the following 4 criteria:

    In a person’s private motor vehicle or watercraft if the handgun is concealed, and the person is legal to possess a firearm, is not a member of a street gang, and is not engaged in the commission of a crime greater than a Class C misdemeanor traffic or boating violation.

    https://www.texaslawshield.com/portal/texas-gun-law/

    That doesn't mean you won't be subject to misinterpretation by law enforcement at the point of contact, however.
     
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