By Ben Baker
Crossing any political border with a gun brings up a lot of issues. Right now, the Firearms Owners' Protection Act, or FOPA, is the law of the land, except when it is not.
Confusing? Sure is. The federal law is supposed to protect gun owners when they move a gun across state lines if the gun is properly stored during the move. Being a federal law, it is supposed to supersede local and state laws, but the reality is different. "Yet in the years since its enactment, it has been ignored by anti-gun local officials and effectively gutted by the courts," says the NRA.
New York and New Jersey are the chief offenders when it comes to ignoring the federal law. The NRA says if you plan to fly into either state, it's best to have your gun shipped to your eventual destination. We recommend shipping your holster with the gun to avoid any confusion or delays in case you are stopped.
Part of FOPA requires your gun to be locked away during transport. This does not mean in a holster anywhere on your body. Locked down means it is in the trunk of your car or in a locked case. Storing in the console or glove compartment is not enough under FOPA.
Ammo must be stored separately.
The NRA does a good job of explaining the law and telling you about states which tend to ignore the law.
Tucker Gunleather recommends storing your gun and the holster in the same locked case. Having the holster where it can be seen or found during an inspection is a sign that you have a gun. If the authorities are anti-2A, they will step up their search for the gun. As the NRA notes, the federal law may not be enough protection to prevent you from being arrested or detained.
Carry After Arrival
Whether or not you can carry your gun after arrival, openly or concealed, depends on that state and possibly city or county laws. Get a rundown of state laws here. CAUTION - State laws are updated frequently and the NRA's information may be out of date (as of this post, the Texas law was not updated). Check with the attorney general's office of the state you are going to for the most current info.
Alaska has no laws for concealed carry for residents. If you go up there for a visit, take your carry permit with you. "A person holding a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun from another state or a political subdivision of another state is a recognized permitee under Alaska law for purposes of carrying a concealed handgun," says the state law.
Texas will be a Constitutional Carry state as of September 1st, meaning residents can carry their handgun without a permit, if they are legally allowed to own the gun. The state does restrict carrying in some places, says the Austin American-Statesman.
The Lone Star State specifically says "Texans" are given this right. If you are visiting and want to carry, bring your state permit.
Texas and Alaska will issue carry permits for residents who want to visit other states.
US Concealed Carry has a list of states and their carry permit reciprocities. CAUTION - Check the most current laws in that state before you decide to carry if you are not a resident there. Some states have different rules for open carry v. concealed carry.
States Ignore Fopa
Despite the federal law, some states and cities ignore FOPA. New York is an excellent example of this.
New York State can issue a permit to carry a handgun. NYC says the state permit is not valid there unless you also get permission from city officials OR you have the gun in a locked container and go through the city without stopping, except for traffic lights and other delays. In other words, as long as you stay on the road, you are probably OK. Unfortunately, "probably" has to be used here because NYC has a solid history of persecuting law-abiding gun owners.
If you are going to a recognized, organized or formal shooting event, then a different set of rules will apply. The event organizers should give you a copy of the state and local laws that govern where and how you can carry at the shooting event.
For instance, a cowboy action shooting tournament means you need to carry in a field holster while on the range and competing. If you are shooting three-gun or a different style tournament, the organizers will tell you what holsters are appropriate and when and where you can carry.
Regardless of where or how you carry, if you can do it when you get there, Tucker Gunleather has the holster to meet your needs.