The right to arms is slowly being restored to its rightful place in the palladium of liberty, but there are still many hurdles to overcome. Travel with firearms and otherwise transporting arms for lawful purposes can be daunting and at times impossible without violating some law.
Correcting these problems should not be that difficult, and making these corrections should be primary targets of the new Congress.
Anything that makes it impossible or difficult to exercise a right is a violation of that right. I believe that virtually all gun laws should be completely repealed. From intrusive background investigations before purchases, to so-called “Gun-Free” zones, to permits for legal carry of a concealed firearm, none of them achieve their intended purpose, and all of them infringe on individual rights.
But I know that it’s going to take more than a few articles from me to convince the masses that my position is correct, so in the mean time I will continue to point out the more obvious problems with existing laws and work toward correcting those problems. Getting your guns from point A to point B should not involve risking your life, liberty and fortune.
Many of the problems of traveling with firearms were addressed in the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, which established standards under which firearms could legally be transported through jurisdictions that have harsh restrictions on firearms.
Under the act, anyone traveling from a place where it is legal for them to possess the firearms in question to a place where it is also legal may do so through areas where such possession is normally illegal, provided the firearms are unloaded and stored in a locked container – such as the trunk of a car – and any ammunition is stored in a separate locked container – such as a glove box or locked ammo can.
One of the catches in the rule is that the traveler loses the protections of the safe passage rule if they stop or make side trips along the way. Popping in to visit Aunt Sally or to take a quick look at Niagara Falls could result in felony charges.
Even a cancelled class or competition can be a problem: Say a person from Pennsylvania enrolls in a training class at the Smith & Wesson range in Massachusetts and drives through New York to get there; all good so far, but Massachusetts only allows handguns to be brought into the state for the purpose of using them in a competition or training class. If there is no class, possession of the gun in the state is illegal, which also makes transporting the gun back to Pennsylvania through New York illegal, since the person is now transporting the gun to a place where it is legal, but from a place where it is not legal.
Most people would think that such a pedantic approach to the law would be ridiculous, but numerous people have fallen into this trap over the years, and there are police and prosecutors specifically looking to catch people in such technicalities. While the end result is rarely serious jail time or maximum penalties, these prosecutions typically result in substantial fines or significant legal expenses – or both.
It is clear that the protections afforded in the 1986 law are not broad enough and need to be revisited and expanded.
Another problem is the shipping of firearms. If a shooter is planning a family or business trip with various stops and stayovers along the way and voiding the protections of the safe transit rule, it is often better to ship the gun directly to and from the place where it is needed.
The problem with this is that many carriers have special rules regarding firearms and handguns in particular. Some shippers won’t accept them at all, while others require them to be shipped only via expensive next-day services. As private companies, these common carriers have the right to set their own rules about what and how they carry, but there is another player in the shipping game, which is a pseudo-government agency: the U.S. Postal Service. USPS totally prohibits shipment of firearms with only a few very narrow exceptions for shipments within the firearms industry under specific and limited circumstances.
Since we the people have a major interest in a shipping company, and we the people have both the right to arms and the right to freely travel within the United States, it makes sense to me that we the people should be able to legally and easily ship our constitutionally protected property through our government-subsidized postal service.
Guns don’t go postal, postal workers do.