Saturday, April 7, 2012

Protect the right of Americans to travel with a gun

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. This law is found at 18 USC § 926A.

Unfortunately, some local jurisdictions have chosen to ignore federal law and the courts have upheld these infringements on Second Amendment rights. Gun owners have had serious problems lawfully travelling with their firearms in two states in particular: New York (especially New York City) and New Jersey. Rather than recognize the intention of Congress to protect the rights of Americans travelling with legally owned firearms, these jurisdictions have used overly restrictive state licensing laws to harass and prosecute travelers. These anti-gun laws and policies do nothing to curb real crime. Instead, they criminalize normal behavior which is inherently not threatening or dangerous.

The refusal of the authorities in some jurisdictions to recognize federal law and the failure of the courts to enforce the provisions of FOPA, makes additional legislation necessary. HR.4269 would amend this provision to ensure it has the effect Congress intended.

HR.4269 would:
▪ Expand the protections afforded travelers to include "staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental" to the trip.
▪ Put the burden of proof clearly on the state to show that a traveler did not meet the requirements of the law, rather than allow travelers to be arrested and forced to raise the law as an affirmative defense.
▪ Make clear that transportation of both firearms and ammunition is federally protected.
▪ Make clear that the right to transport firearms is judicially enforceable as a federal civil right, with attorney's fees available to victorious plaintiffs in civil suits, as well as to defendants who prevail in criminal cases.

Congress is currently working on a national Right-to-Carry Reciprocity bill which will achieve goals entirely different from HR.4269. HR4269 is intended only to provide real legal protection for people transporting cased and unloaded guns while travelling.

I urge Congress and the President to implement HR.4269 immediately.

Join the National Rifle Association!

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