A bipartisan coalition of 45 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives has again introduced the “Protecting Lawful Transportation of Firearms Act,” which seeks to standardize laws regarding the transport of firearms from one state to another.
The same bill was introduced last year with 51 cosponsors but never made it out of the House Judiciary Committee. This year’s version, formally introduced by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) in March, has also been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Last week, Griffith said the committee needs to review the proposal so it can be presented to the House for a vote.
“Current federal law or the Second Amendment of the Constitution should neither be misinterpreted nor ignored to prevent law-abiding Americans from legally traveling with firearms across state lines,” Griffith said in a statement.
The law is meant mostly to protect hunters and sportsmen who may conduct interstate travel for hunting or for shooting competitions.
When Congress passed the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986, one of the key provisions of the bill was intended to protect the rights of gun owners to legally transport their firearms between locations where they are legally allowed to possess them.
Unfortunately, according to the NRA, “some local jurisdictions have chosen to ignore federal law and the courts have upheld these infringements on Second Amendment rights.”
Gun owners have had difficulties lawfully traveling with firearms in New York (especially New York City) and New Jersey. “Rather than recognize the intention of Congress to protect the rights of Americans traveling with legally owned firearms, these jurisdictions have used overly restrictive state licensing laws to harass and prosecute travelers,” the NRA states in a position paper endorsing the proposal.
Three cases illustrate the need for this law:
1) In 2004, New York-New Jersey Port Authority Police arrested Florida law professor John Torraco at LaGuardia Airport for possession of a firearm. Torraco had stored his legally owned unloaded handgun in his checked luggage. When he declared the firearm to the counter agent, as required by federal law, he was arrested and charged with possession of an unlicensed handgun.
2) In 2005, New Yorker William Winstanley was detained at John F. Kennedy Airport when he checked a handgun in his luggage, again in compliance with federal law. He was not arrested, but his travel was delayed for several days while he proved that he was in compliance with federal law.
3) In 2007, Utah resident Greg Revell was flying through Newark Liberty International Airport to Pennsylvania. His flight into Newark was late and caused him to miss his connecting flight. Revell was forced to collect his baggage and spend the night in a Newark hotel. When he attempted to recheck his baggage the following morning, he declared the unloaded handgun to the counter agent. He was arrested for illegal possession of a handgun and ammunition under New Jersey law and spent three days in jail before he was able to make bail.