You’ve decided to move to the American Redoubt. So you and the family load up your belongings in a Uhaul and begin the cross-country journey to a new life of freedom and peace of mind. But before your cross your state line, you need to understand that various states have restrictions on transporting firearms in vehicles.
1.Under federal law, it’s legal to transport legally-acquired firearms across state lines “for lawful purposes” (except those explicitly prohibited by federal law — the list is actually quite long). However, a lot of states have laws restricting such transportation. Per the NRA:
Federal law does not restrict individuals from transporting legally acquired firearms across state lines for lawful purposes except those explicitly prohibited by federal law to include convicted felons; persons under indictment for felonies; adjudicated “mental defectives” or those who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions; illegal drug users; illegal aliens and most non-immigrant aliens; dishonorably discharged veterans; those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship; fugitives from justice; persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence; and persons subject to certain domestic violence restraining orders. Therefore, no federal permit is required (or available) for the interstate transportation of firearms.
Many states and localities have laws governing the transportation of firearms. Travelers must be aware of these laws and comply with legal requirements in each jurisdiction. There is no uniform state transportation procedure for firearms. If in doubt, a traveler should carry firearms unloaded, locked in a case, and stored in an area (such as a trunk or attached toolbox) where they are inaccessible from a vehicle’s passenger compartment and not visible from outside the vehicle. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate locked container. Title 18 Part 1 Chapter 44 s926A
2. In most states, firearms may be transported legally if they are unloaded, cased, and locked in the automobile trunk or otherwise inaccessible to the driver or any passenger. The exceptions to this rule apply mainly to transportation of handguns and so-called “assault weapons.” The myriad and conflicting legal requirements for firearm transportation through the states make caution the key for travelers of which you must consult local law.
3. If you travel with a trailer or camper that is hauled by an automobile, it is advisable to transport the firearms unloaded, cased and locked in the trunk of the car. If your vehicle is of the type in which driving and living spaces are not separated, the problem becomes one of access. If the firearm is carried on or about the person, or placed in the camper where it is readily accessible to the driver or any passenger, state and local laws regarding concealed carrying of firearms may apply. It is recommended, therefore, that the firearm be transported unloaded, cased, and placed in a locked rear compartment of the camper or mobile home, where it is inaccessible to the driver or any passenger.
Generally, a mobile home is considered a home if it is not attached to a towing vehicle, and is permanently attached to utilities, placed on blocks, or otherwise parked in such a manner that it cannot immediately be started up and used as a vehicle.
4. Once you reach your destination, state and local law will govern the ownership, possession, and transportation of your firearms.
The following states have very specific rules:
- California (no surprise)
- New Jersey
- Washington, D.C.
- New York
5. REMEMBER YOUR FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS. If you are pulled over for a valid stop, the police can search any area that is within your reach. However, they are not allowed open your trunk or any bags / suitcases without probable cause to believe there’s evidence of crime. Otherwise they need your consent — which is your constitutionally-protected choice.
In short, before you transport a firearm across state lines, take some time to learn about the various state laws and how to comply with them. At the very least, the best bet is to carry your firearm unloaded, locked in a case, and stored in your trunk.