Republicans are wasting little time proposing pro-gun legislation. Following on the heels of the Hearing Protection Act, Republicans have introduced a new bill which would improve the situation for legal gun owners traveling between states, providing some “teeth” to allow gun owners to sue jurisdictions that don’t play by the rules.

For those in the middle of the country this might not be such a big issue. But for anyone who has enjoyed the sphincter-tightening journey through downtown Washington, D.C. on their way to a competition shooting match with an M-16 in the trunk (name withheld by request) it would be a welcome change.

The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 is known for two reasons.

First, the Hughes Amendment (added by a Democrat from New Jersey) closed off the National Firearms Act registry for new machine guns. No new machine guns could legally be sold to or manufactured by unlicensed Americans (the reason a MAC-10 costs $10,000+ and not $100).

Second, the “Safe Passage” provision was designed to enable gun owners to lawfully travel from one state to another with their firearms even if those guns were illegal in an intermediate state.

That second provision is one critical to many Americans especially on the east coast.

Owners of AR-15 rifles in New Hampshire — where the rifles are 100 percent legal in their natural form — might need to travel through Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey (all places with severe restrictions on the firearms) before finally reaching Pennsylvania (where it is once again legal).

That “safe passage” provision means that so long as you are simply passing through on your way to a location where the firearm is again legal you shouldn’t fear being stopped or arrested.

In theory the system works. In practice there aren’t many anti-gun jurisdictions that follow the rules, and the police will gleefully confiscate your firearms and place you under arrest.

One example of a real life situation where FOPA should have applied is the case of Greg Revell. mr. Revell’s delayed flight and missed connection in Newark landed him in a hotel room overnight with his (locked and unloaded) firearm.

When he went to check in for his flight the next day he was arrested and charged for the gun (illegal in New Jersey) despite traveling as expediently as possible through the state of New Jersey. The Supreme Court declined to hear his case and his conviction stands.

The proposed legislation, S.618 “Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act,” would expand the “safe passage” provision to specifically allow stopping for food, fuel, and overnight rest stops (which were not explicitly included in the original wording) and give gun owners a mechanism to sue jurisdictions that don’t comply.

It also gives the same protections to magazines and ammunition for those states who now think that magazines over a certain size are evil as well.

GovTrack currently gives the bill an eight percent chance of passage. Here’s hoping that Congress will do something to improve the lives of gun owners.

34 Responses to Reps Introduce Bill to Strengthen Protections for Gun Owners Crossing State Lines

  1. If certain states and municipalities are thumbing their noses at one version of the law why wouldn’t they continue thumbing their nose at a **NEW AND IMPROVED!!!** version of the law?

    Passing more laws in hopes those who routinely break or ignore them will begin to follow them is idiotic and won’t do anything unless the punishment is immediate death.

    These munis are criminals and criminals, as we all know, don’t follow laws.

    • Shire-man for the win!

      We always pound on gun-grabbers who claim that just one more law will finally work this time (to stop violent criminals). Of course criminals don’t care whether they break 2 laws or 20 laws so new gun-control laws never accomplish anything.

      This case is no different.

      • That “just one more law” concept is just what was used to, step by step, strip the Aussies and the Brits of their rights. It is the same process the anti-gun crowd is working on here. It’s also the way the eco-Nazis, PETA/SPCA, etc are moving. The latter organizations are pushing us to cease all hunting and sport fishing by limiting the use of lead.

    • Under this bill, if states do not obey the law, they can be sued federally (instead of consenting to be sued). It’s better than nothing.

      I don’t think ‘immediate death’ stands even an 8% chance of passing.

      • Ha! Stringing up a traitor from the boughs of the tree of liberty does not require a congressional vote.

        It does however require the will to continue with the hangings up through the ranks of congress until they acknowledge that your rights exist with or without their royal approval.

        Did the Autodefensas teach us anything? (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/12/robert-farago/national-human-rights-commission-mexican-federales-murdered-autodefensas/)

        I don’t know what you got out of it, but it taught me that if you have 5 men willing to try and defend against a LA-riots situation today, you need 20 in reserve to kill the police who will get off their asses promptly and arrest you for trying to fulfill the oath they betrayed.

        If you think about it, you might come to the conclusion that immediate lynching is the most humane thing you can do for oathbreakers. When good men never respond, it puts lots of strain on an individual’s character, as the demands to do wrong are always present.

        There will ALWAYS be incentive to abuse public power, and pressure is applied to everyone down the chain of command, down to the beat cop who is ordered to respond to the shots of self-defense when he was previously ordered to ignore the flames and shots of looting.

        If the consequences of refusing to arrest the Korean guy protecting his shop are more dire than those resulting from betraying his oath (job loss v. nothing really), it’s gonna be a hard decision. If there’s a 99% chance he gets shot in the back of the head and his house burned for his treason, it becomes easy to do the right thing.

        To draw an allegory, say you believe and have proof that bribery erodes the character of public officials and pushes a country towards chaos and rife abuses. Punishing bribery with an $20 fine puts a huge strain on anyone in an important position because the scale is (Honesty value + $20 fine) x chance of getting caught = (Massive bribe). The individual must value honesty at a very high price to continue in the righteous course.

        However, if the penalty for accepting bribes is hanging, the scale is (Honesty + hanging) x risk = $$$$ bribe. Honesty does not have to mean as much to the individual.

        If you know that bribery is bad for everyone, you NEED the hanging penalty or else you have skewed all of the incentives towards accepting the bribes.

      • It’s also possible for the bill to give specific instructions for the level of scrutiny to be used by judges in determining its scope & meaning, correct?

        • Such a law is within Congress’s authority. The Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) is such an act for the 1A. Similar state laws have been decried as homophobic.

    • Adding a mechanism to sue for damages is not comparable to the “just add another law” mentality you’re referencing. Expanding a criminal penalty from 3 years to 5 years is pointless feel-good legislation. Adding an enforcement mechanism to a law which largely lacks one is a serious protection enhancement. It gives lawyers an incentive to fight and win such cases beyond their clients’ limited ability to pay.

      • And that’s a big deal. Suing someone who can and has to pay if you win is fantastic. I don’t have to choose between charging a poor client more than they can afford for a solid claim thus denying them their day in court and coming up with some compromise. In Texas, taking a case on contingency is a factor in the reasonableness of the fee. I’m not sure if those factors would apply in a federal action or not. (Also, I doubt any of it would ever come up in Texas).

  2. I am fine with suing the jurisdictions but add in those who enforce these illegal seizures and harrassment and open them up to being personally liable. If the police chief, mayor, governor, AG of these places get sued personally, that will get their attention.

    Make them pay their own money, not taxpayer money, that will hurt them.

    • I agree with your sentiments/

      However, “Make them pay their own money, not taxpayer money, that will hurt them.” – how long before they find a manner to be “reimbursed” ?

      • It would still force them to do things that would be in public view to get that reimbursement which would raise public awareness of how the local jurisdiction uses taxpayer dollars.

        As it is now people don’t recognize how much they pay for the bad behavior of a local jurisdiction because the jurisdiction has insurance. The premium goes up when the company has to pay out, sure, but that’s easier to hide from the general public than intentionally passing something that provides for direct payments. As it is now the budget item appears as something innocuous and necessary like “Insurance-Police Department” against which few people can/will argue.

        I’m sure there are ways to hide the kind of payout you’re talking about too but it’s much more difficult and the more we make these people justify their expenditures of tax dollars for nonsense the less they’ll engage in that nonsense because they’ll have John Q. Taxpayer up their ass about why his dollars are being spent on a payout for a cops who lost a civil rights lawsuit.

        Mr. Taxpayer may even wholeheartedly agree with the local ordinance but he’s not going to like a city handing a cop $100K (just an example) to cover the loss of a lawsuit that quite frankly shouldn’t have happened and now the city is trying to justify a raising of taxes to cover the hole that’s been blown in it’s budget.

        Dollars are fungible for a local or state government right up until they have to provide a line-item budget to justify how much they’re spending. Make them produce that budget, even if it means they play games with the naming and whatnot. That’ll only make their kicking of the hornet’s nest worse when they get caught.

    • DDay,

      We already have a law in place that empowers federal prosecutors to hit city and state government agents with personal fines and prison time for such offenses. Sadly, federal prosecutors never seem interested in actually applying the law.

      For reference the law is 18 U.S. Code, Section 242 “Deprivation of rights under color of law”. Since the government agents who illegally arrest and imprison armed travelers are kidnapping those armed travelers, 18 U.S. Code Section 242 allows for punishment up to life in prison and even the death penalty in addition to fines. Rather than pushing to pass a new law which will do nothing, we need to push federal prosecutors to exercise this existing law.

      • The victims i.e. gun owners, should be able to sue. I’m sure plenty who get harassed in NJ, NY, DC, etc. would gladly sue the mayor’s, governors, cops, etc. who ignored the federal laws.

        • I agree with DDay. The best way of making sure bad behavior is not repeated it to punish that behavior. The best way to make sure bad behavior is punished is to let the victim do it. To prevent blood feuds, it’s probably best to do this in the courts. The best way to make sure that everyone (the poor and middle class) is protected is to put dollar signs in lawyers’ eyes through mandatory attorney’s fees.

          If I can make a bunch of money by taking a bunch of money from a corrupt government officials and giving most of it to someone the corrupt government officials hurt, sign me up. (Once again, violations of FOPA are unlikely to happen where I live and work. I’ve never even heard of one in Texas).

          There are laws in Texas that my local government is violating, but only the Texas AG can file the civil suit with the concurring penalties and attorney’s fees. If a citizen could file suit, I would have been client and attorney on day one.

    • Would much rather prefer criminal charges under Civil-Rights related obstruction & abuse of authority. Jail > taxpayer-tender

  3. Sounds like common sense gun legislation to me. We have found criminals including criminal states and cities don’t follow laws. If they did there wouldn’t be sanctuary cities. It was disappointing SCOTUS didn’t take up what seemed to be a clear enough violation of the law. Tyrants in black robes and rogue state representatives. Doesn’t really sound like we live in a just democracy.

    • Don’t be so eager to bash sanctuary cities — most of them are merely asserting their tenth amendment authority to not be a branch of the federal government, which means we should be cheering for them.

  4. The link provided did not say to which committee this bill was referred. Please let us know so that those who live in the states with Senators on that committee can contact them. Both Senators and my Congressman are R’s and all are pledged to support the 2A but who knows what they will really do.

  5. While they are modifying FOPA, have them add an amendment granting a 90-day registration amnesty to the Hughes ‘abortion’ of an amendment.

    Watch how fast folks use the internet to find the necessary machinist drawings to get themselves into ‘compliance’… 😉

    • Whoever it is that snags those AK autosears from the imported parts kits before putting them on the domestic market will suddenly find themselves the ruler of Barter Town…

  6. Sad. Why do we have to pass another additional law to make sure ALL Americans follow the same original law passed in the first place. Time to start suing these maverick communist jurisdictions anyway. Also time to repeal the full-auto ban of the worthless communist Hughes Amendment. All this NFA bullshit needs to be totally revamped or repealed all together.

  7. I don’t want them to introduce a damn thing, I want them to PASS THEM!

    This is all a bunch of bread and circuses and unless I see some laws on the books (or more precisely laws OFF the books) this is one giant circle jerk.

  8. It would also be nice if they could do something about the states that only allow you to raise FOPA as an affirmative defense. This means you will still be arrested and charged and you can then the only way to get out from under the charges is to go to court and prove that you had intended to travel under FOPA. I think the formerly great state of Massachusetts tries to pull this garbage

    • I can attest to this. I was arrested for possession of a pistol in the Comm. of Mass. inside a locked safe on the floor of the back seat of my car, and during my arraignment, a copy of my Mass. LTC and my N.H. LTC and my Ariz. LTC were stapled to the paperwork that the judge was looking at while I stood there answering his questions. “Why is this man in front of me today?” The asst. D.A. replied that “I haven’t had the time to look at this information, Judge, but it appears that this charge should not have been made.” So they took me to the holding tank, with people wearing orange clothing (I was wearing a suit for the occasion, as I dressed at home) and waited for the rest of that day’s caseload to finish, and then the ADA handed off the paperwork to someone else…. 14 months, and $58,000 later I was acquitted by a jury, in about an hour of deliberations. You guys who say “all you need to do is…” remember that in states who hate guns and your rights, your “mileage may vary”. And once you are in their system, with their unlimited time and funds, it won’t be as simple as you think.

      • If what you laid out isn’t a case for malicious prosecution, I don’t know what is. I don’t know if they have that cause of action in Massachusetts.

  9. Maryland is the big problem in the NE. It’s pretty hard to cross to VA from PA or DE and not touch the Fee State. I used to visit a range near northeast in Cecil County until the mag bans and other crap. I won’t stop even for a piss in MD while carrying arms now. Some say out of state residents can shoot there with no worries but I’m not about to find out. I’m not wasting money on 10 round mags for my handguns either.
    The real answer is a strong Scotus that strikes down these laws as unconstitutional but that takes years, money, and standing with the right defendant. It would be better if decent people followed the USC.

  10. States selectively uphold federal drug laws against the production, sale, and possession of marijuana. States and cities selectively uphold and enforce federal immigration law. I think it’s time for all of us law abiding citizens to start selectively abiding by arbitrary and nonsensical gun laws at the state and federal level.

  11. I appreciate all the bills getting introduced but I’d be even happier if even one of them looked like it was going to make its way to Trump’s desk.

  12. Why does this commonsense gun laws only have an 8% chance of passing ?
    Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress

  13. there’s a real simple solution: Prosecute ALL LEO’s and Politicians with TREASON everytime they infringe on someone’s rights. It’s not complicated. The Constitution says “shall not be infringed”. SO, any infringement is in violation of the constitution. Put them in prison. Simple!

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