Last year, I wrote about a serious weakness in the “safe passage” provision in the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which allowed states like New York to arrest innocent traveling gun owners for the mistake of stopping in the state for any reason with a legally owned firearm in their vehicle.
Days later, Senator Steve Daines of Montana filed SB 3139 to fix that very problem and extend FOPA’s protections to ammunition and magazines. Daines’ bill greatly improves protections for stops along the way.
“(b) In subsection (a), the term ‘transport’ includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, or any other activity incidental to the transport.
While that’s much better than current safe passage provisions, I thought it needed tweaking to prevent anti-gun jurisdictions like New York from interpreting delivery stops on a route as the “destination” where the firearm possession would otherwise violate state law.
Rep. Mo Brooks‘ office agreed. He and thirteen co-sponsors have filed the “Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act”, with much improved language. Contrast Sen. Daines’ definition of “transport” with this.
4 ‘‘(b) In subsection (a), the term ‘transport’ includes
5 staying in temporary lodging, stopping for food, fuel, vehi-
6 cle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, or any
7 other activity incidental to the transport.
“Lodging overnight” is gone, making sure any stop is protected. I was still somewhat concerned about New York’s penchant for misinterpreting what a “destination” is, but Brooks’ D.C. office was kind enough to point out one more provision that I must have misread the first time through.
8 ‘‘(c)(1) A person who is transporting a firearm, am-
9 munition, magazine, or feeding device may not be arrested
10 or otherwise detained for violation of any law or any rule
11 or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof
12 related to the possession, transportation, or carrying of
13 firearms, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device un-
15 ‘‘(A) there is probable cause to believe that the
16 person is doing so in a manner not provided for in
17 subsection (a); and
18 ‘‘(B) there is probable cause to believe that the
19 person has committed a crime other than the viola-
As long as you secured the firearm, ammunition, or magazine in accordance with the law, you may not be arrested or detained only for that. It doesn’t matter where you stopped, when, why, or how long.
So long as you are passing through and not committing some other crime, you are covered under Brooks’ bill, thanks to the interaction of the new definition of “transport” and the “crime other than the violation” clause.