TSA firearm gun declaration
Conner W. for TTAG

By Larry Keane

Traveling between two dots on a map would become less worrisome for travelers transporting firearms if Congress listens to what U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) is offering. He’s introduced H.R. 225, a bill that would remove the legal pitfalls for interstate travel with firearms.

The legislation couldn’t be more timely. America saw its strongest year for background checks ever, with 21 million clocking in throughout 2020. Over 8.4 million people purchased a gun for the very first time, according to National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) survey estimates.

It was also a year that saw a rise in hunting license sales and activity as shooting ranges as many sought outdoor opportunities across the board to beat being bored during coronavirus quarantine protocols.

Those gun owners are going to travel and, with a confusing patchwork of laws between the states, it’s time that firearm transportation laws caught up.

Road Blocks

The difficulty for gun owners traveling with their firearm is that each state regulates firearm possession differently. Some states ban modern sporting rifles, posing a travel obstacle to those firearm owners who need to pass through that state to get to another. This is a real concern for firearm owners who must drive or even stop on flights in states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland.

Traveling with a modern sporting rifle or standard magazines might not be an issue in New Hampshire but traveling with firearms through the corridor of those strict gun control states means navigating more than just road hazards. It’s weaving through legal hazards too.

This common situation unwittingly turns law-abiding Americans into instant criminals, often times without their knowledge or intention. The case of John Filippidis of Florida gained national attention. Filippidis was pulled over for speeding in Maryland while driving with his family. Police suspected he had a firearm in the car and spent over an hour searching his vehicle, his family scared and watching.

It happened to Army 1st Lt. Augustine Kim. He was traveling from his parents’ home in New Jersey to his own home in South Carolina. While en route he stopped at what was then called Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2010 for a medial appointment.

He consented to an officer searching his car for firearms. He told them he had a modern sporting rifle properly locked in the trunk. The problem was modern sporting rifles are banned from possession in the District of Columbia.

The Army officer was handcuffed and hauled off to jail, facing 20 years, $20,000 in fines and four felonies. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge and spent the next two years fighting to get his rifle returned. It took the intervention of U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both Republicans from South Carolina.

This circumstance is common with those in the trucking and transportation industry too, not just private citizens traveling across state lines.

Similar situations arise when hunters travel with their firearms on hunting excursions in other states. Should they be delayed at airports and required to stay overnight away from home, they may be vulnerable to similar inquiries and confiscation by local law enforcement enforcing the very strict gun laws of those states.

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) spoke about this exact situation describing why he supports the effort to pass the firearm interstate transportation law update. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has led the charge in the House of Representatives before as well.

The Solution

Congressman Griffith’s bill would protect lawful gun owners from falling victim to strict gun control laws in other states should the owner find themselves traveling through or temporarily required to stay over. It’s a commonsense fix that should be a bipartisan law Congress could agree on. It’s not requiring states to change or adopt new standards. It just allows a traveler who is passing through to do so without fear of jail time. This is legislation that should be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

57 COMMENTS

  1. “It’s a commonsense fix that should be a bipartisan law Congress could agree on.”

    Oh yeah. Dims are gonna agree to loosening anti-gun laws as being “common sense”.

    • If the Dems do pass this law in the next two years, then you won’t want it, as it will have so many additional “common sense” alterations as to give the opposite effect from what is desired.

      The Republican appeals to the 2A base are too little, too late. We have wish lists but at this point they need to offer strategies for blocking the coming gun control push, and plans for retaking the House and Senate with sufficient majority to actually be able to implement change.

  2. I, for one, don’t expect any common sense laws to be passed by a Democrat congress. With a D president, it seems out of the question. We will all be thanking Trump for appointing Barret, if we haven’t already. She should help to block most of the unconstitutional nonsense the Ds want.

    • I don’t expect any from any congress, dem or repub. The people in power want to keep power. They aren’t going to give it up.

  3. Never consent to a search, never speak with LE w/o the advice of counsel. At a traffic stop be cooperative and friendly, but only provide the necessary documents to the police. If you are threatened by the police who state that they will get a search warrant, make no further statements. Most of the time these threats are baseless and a bluff.

  4. Interstate? Hell, I’m more concerned with INTRAstate travel here in Virginia now. With state preemption gone (thanks Dems) I have to wonder if I’m going to drive down some street that happens to be adjacent to a permitted event or whatever, and suddenly be in violation of a local law. There’s a patchwork of no-gun zones popping up like bad acne across the state as we speak.

    • It’s your responsibility to know what the law is, wherever you happen to be. “Ignorance of the law excuses no man, for it is an excuse that every man will plead and no man know how to refute.”

      • “Ignorance of the law excuses no man, for it is an excuse that every man will plead and no man know how to refute.”

        Then why do cops get a pass on that?

      • It’s not enough to know the law in Virginia anymore. Thanks to the Democrats, you now have to also know in advance the schedule and location of any permitted events in several local jurisdictions you might have to pass through in your travels across the state, to avoid temporary no-gun zones. The rolling back of state preemption is designed to create a research-and-planning burden so great that it that discourages people from carrying an otherwise lawful firearm while traveling through the state.

  5. Given the current political climate PLUS the Democrats controlling the United States Senate, House of Representatives, and the Presidency, stuff like this is a complete waste of time and resources since there is ZERO chance of this going forward much less becoming law.

    Aside from any conceivable practical considerations or benefits from this legislation, Democrats will oppose it simply to punish their political enemies. Yes, Democrats are that vindictive. But don’t let that concern you because Democrats are going to bring us all together — they pinky-swear-promise.

    • GS650G,

      For all their faults, Democrats are not completely off their rocker and I can see them “caving in” and graciously allowing us to keep break-action (single-shot) rifles and break-action (single-shot) shotguns.

      Of course we would be limited to one such rifle and one such shotgun per family and/or household — and limited to 40 rounds of rifle ammunition and 40 shotgun shells. Oh, and they would legally require us to store them in a locked safe when not using them afield for hunting or sighting in.

      Under that setting, Democrats would argue that they are not infringing on our Second Amendment right to hunt. And they would defend their stance with the well-worn mantra, “Who needs more than one bullet to hunt deer?”

  6. Democrats will compromise as long as you agree to whatever they want. If that does not happen then they just blame you for not being able to come to a fair and equitable agreement.

  7. With “friends” like the National Shooting Sports Foundation (which supports several civilian disarmament planks), who needs enemies?

  8. Unless a pot of gold awaits you in some state overcome by deranged democRats and their KKK/nazi based Gun Control agenda don’t go there and try not to purchase from the democRat strongholds that stole the election.
    Some people are stuck in democRat strongholds and purchasing from them may help themto one day get out. You remove Trump voters and leave democRats alone to do for themselves and they will self-destruct.

    Poop for brains joe biden and pelosi et al couldn’t read blueprints if their lives depended on it much less build a dog house. The man who could do all of that and more had the election stolen from him.

    • Debbie W.,

      You remove Trump voters and leave democRats alone to do for themselves and they will self-destruct.

      I agree with the sentiment. The two major problems:

      1) It takes decades for that to come to fruition.

      2) Democrats will simply raid the income and retirement of moderates and conservatives to keep themselves fed, clothed, housed, and intoxicated (on whatever is their literal or figurative drug).

      • When the day comes that 75,000,000 who voted for DJT unite and are on the same page and zero in on the economy in democRat strongholds things change and it does not take a a decade, etc. When the day comes 75,000,000 who voted for DJT hold the democRat Party monetarily liable for slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, lynching, the KKK, Eugenics, lynching, Gun Control and other race based atrocities is the day the democRat Party is Bankrupt.

        Problem? Politically inept morons who would rather watch distractions such as another football game and learn all there is to know about football and then take a nap. That’s while democRats are busy working hard to whitewash their party racist history by hanging the race card around the neck of the Party of Lincoln.

        And the results? Plenty of useful idiots voting for the democRat Party all to say to their pals they are not racists. In the minds of such pathetic history illiterates democRats won the Civil War. So when there is only a few from the Party of Lincoln exposing democRat Party sleaze to spoon fed fools you wind up with a Rat Problem.

        • You think your life is shitty? Well, just imagine being the poor geezer what lays down with this foul mouthed, miserable and hate filled crone.

        • Look, boy –

          Don’t take out your frustration about being an incel that can’t have a woman on Deborah.

          I’m sure if you ask nicely, your mom might give you the experience you need.

          Face it – The way you’re going now, no sane woman will ever let you mount her.

          There’s another alternative you could explore, go for a transvestite who’s into BDSM. It’s kinda obvious all you seem to want is pain. I don’t mind filling in until you get one, I have to admit, I kinda like treating you as an amusing punch-toy… 🙂

        • I bet you want treat lots of boys as punch toys, you pervert.

    • ” leave democRats alone to do for themselves and they will self-destruct ”

      Can’t argue with that. The problem is there is no way to corral the Dems into one area so they can self-destruct themselves. They are going to self-destruct no matter what, and they’ll do it while they are dispersed through the general population, taking the rest of us with them. In short, those f**king asshats are going to get all of us killed.

    • Yes, you are right to a point. When non-free-state (NFS) citizens begin to feel the pinch from laws they themselves voted into place, those same citizens will naturally flee the NSF state. Once established in their new state, those newly freed citizens begin the process of molding their adopted free state into the NSF cesspool just fled.

  9. Rep. Morgan Griffith has been in office since January 2011.
    I’m sure he introduced the same bill in 2017, when it had a chance of passing, right?
    Right?

  10. So many of these scenarios could be avoided if overzealous cops used the tiniest bit of discretion.

    Like stasi giddy you foolishly crossed the wall West to East so now they can jam you up and look cool for all their stasi bros.

    Does the blue back you?

    • Never understood such a foolish movement. Might as well call it “I would supported the british during colonial days”

  11. The Demo-communist Party is on the verge of outlawing their opposition. They will control the House, the Senate, and (barring some improbable rumblings about a last-minute Trump victory) the Presidency. They have demonstrated control of the vote-counting process, and the ability to cow the Judiciary, nationwide, into submission. Even during the Trump admin, the Department of Justice worked for the Demo-commies. (PWRSERGE!!! Where the heck are you!!!).

    So, what does Rep. Morgan Griffith do, he writes and proposes well-intended, much-needed legislation that has as much chance of passing as Possum giving up his gunms.

    The Republicans need 100% focus on survival. They need to cleanse their ranks of the RINOS, take back the Electoral process state-by-state, jerrymander the heck out of the districts in the states they control, and capitalize on the overwhelming popularity of President Trump.

    Everything else is a distraction.

    Conservatism cannot succeed by compromising with Commies.

  12. Other abuses are by NY and NJ cops at the airports. Woe to him who is stuck on an unplanned or planned layover and retrieves his firearm containing luggage. When that traveler seeks to check back in at the airline counter, the employee there will call a police officer over and that traveler will be arrested and his firearm seized. The case will not be dismissed until the traveler hires a lawyer who threatens to challenge the unconstitutional actions of the police, a very expensive proposition. (That said, I don’t know that a change in the law would change the LE behavior on whit.)

    • My nephew-in-law is a New Jersey cop. I asked him what he thought of New Jersey’s strict gun laws as relates to the 2A. His reply: “I don’t really care about that. I enforce the law.”

      Stunned. Shakes head, mutters under breath.

      But he takes good care of my niece. Apparently, a good husband and father.

      • ” His reply: “I don’t really care about that. I enforce the law.” ”

        Used to have relatives in Joisy, so I can tranlate to common English: “Orders are orders.”

    • “When that traveler seeks to check back in at the airline counter, the employee there will call a police officer over and that traveler will be arrested and his firearm seized.”

      You know, were that happen to me, I’d seriously consider mailing the gun to myself, spread out over 3 boxes…

  13. I am all for easing and even removing restrictions.

    It is extremely important that gun owners understand what the laws are where they live and where they plan to be. Regardless of how right or wrong those laws are. Owning firearms means excepting responsibility. That means learning what the laws are.

    • “So what it all comes down to is Cops enforcing unconstitutional laws.”

      They are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not understand its implications. Besides, who you gonna really protect, the Constitution or your paycheck?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

  14. Not sure how Delaware got lumped in there. No magazine limits or modern sporting rifle bans. And no one is getting stuck here if they’re flying (no commercial airport). The main two laws they passed that are anti 2A are universal background checks and red flag. CCW license is easy to get but they don’t do non-resident. Technically may issue, but operate as shall.

    They do need to give us better travel protections though. If I want to take my AR to VA to shoot, I have to drive hours out of my to avoid Maryland.

    • have to drive hours out of my to avoid Maryland.

      Pretty much an overnighter to VA and back going through Morgantown W. VA to get around MD… No places to shoot during a 6 hr plus (from Wilmington) drive across PA.? Lot of time and expense just to pop a couple caps in VA…. Just sayin..

    • ” [Delaware] CCW license is easy to get ”

      Not really. It’s easy in as much as the state is usually not going to give you a hard time about it — as long as you follow the procedure. And the procedure is mined with all sorts of stupid and ridiculous (and expensive) requirements that serve no purpose other than to discourage you from getting the permit.

  15. AGREE THAT ONCE ONE GETS LTC , LCP , SHOULDBE ABLE TO TRAVEL ANY WHERE IN USA , WITH WEAPON , LAW BIDDING CITIZENS . STATES CAN REGULATE OPEN OR CONCEAL OR BOTH OPEN / CONCEAL , ON PISTOLS .

  16. In the case of Mr. Filippidis, why did the Maryland authorities suspect he had firearms? Presumably, because he was from Florida and he had Florida plates, a 2A friendly State? This is really scary and unless he had been suspected of a serious traffic infraction I suspect a good court case would be in order.

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