Are you looking into how to legally transport firearms for an upcoming interstate move or vacation? Most gun owners are very familiar with the gun laws in their own states. However, they may not be fully aware of firearms laws that come into play once they hit the road.
Yes, a person who legally has a firearm can transport or ship the firearm across state lines when moving to another state. When using a moving company, you must notify the mover that firearms are being transported.
Some firearms must have prior approval from ATF before firearms are moved across state lines.
Let’s cover some of the common questions about state and local laws for gun owners looking to move their guns out of state.
What to Look for When Moving Guns and Ammo Across State Lines
It’s important to know that ignorance of state law won’t protect you if you transport firearms and ammunition in a way that violates state or local laws. The onus is on gun owners to know and comply with laws in every jurisdiction they pass through while transporting firearms.
This is obviously no small task. Depending on your route, you could potentially be facing multiple shifts in firearms laws every time you cross a state border. Here’s a quick rundown of the best practices when traveling across state lines with firearms:
- Be able to confirm that you’re transporting any firearms for lawful purposes.
- Keep firearms unloaded.
- Ensure that firearms are not directly accessible from the passenger portion of your vehicle.
- Also ensure that ammunition is not directly accessible from the passenger portion of your vehicle.
- Used a locked container to hold your firearms and ammunition if the vehicle you’re using does not have a separate compartment away from the passenger area.
- Create a map and accompanying spreadsheet detailing laws and compliance requirements for each state you’ll be passing through that you can keep handy.
- Carry all of your necessary licenses and permits on you.
- Print out firearm laws supplied by official state websites for all of the states you’ll be driving through.
TSA Checklist For Transporting Firearms By Flight
This checklist assumes that you’ll be driving with your firearms. However, there’s a chance you may be flying with firearms instead. It’s going to be very important to take some time to become familiar with federal law and TSA regulations before boarding a plane with a gun. Here’s a rundown of the rules for flying on commercial aircraft with firearms from the TSA’s website:
- Ask your airline about rules and fees prior to booking your flight.
- Declare every firearm each time you present it for transport as checked baggage.
- Firearms can only be transported as checked luggage. This includes all firearm parts.
- Keep all firearms unloaded and locked.
- Use a hard-sided container.
- Any brand of lock is permitted.
- Be aware that only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock used when transporting firearms.
- TSA personnel may request temporary possession of the key to check for compliance with TSA regulations.
A person who lawfully possesses firearms and firearm parts still can’t transport them in carry-on bags. This includes clips, bolts, magazines and firing pins. The only exception is that scopes may be permitted in carry-on bags.
The TSA enforces quantity limits for ammunition and other combustible items that must be followed when packing your case. It’s important to be fully cooperative with TSA agents throughout the journey of traveling with firearms on commercial aircraft. If you are moving permanently and have a concealed carry permit. Be sure you can transfer your concealed carry permit to another state.
Moving To Another State With Guns And Ammo
Pack Guns Carefully
Take time to check that all firearms are loaded with their safety mechanisms in place before packing them for a trip. It can be beneficial to create quick records for each gun that includes photographs and details regarding make, model and serial number.
It’s smart to wrap your guns in protective packaging material before boxing and labeling them. Locked hard cases are preferred. A hard-sided case will be required for both firearms and ammunition if you’re getting on a commercial aircraft.
Check State Laws
There’s really no substitute for deep research. That often means going online to the website of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to find the most up-to-date laws and requirements. It may also be necessary to contact state-specific field offices to ensure that you’re fully informed regarding what is required of you. It’s so important to know that state laws often supersede all other regulations that are in place. Be sure to check state gun laws.
Talk to Your Moving Company
What if you’re planning to transport firearms using professional movers? Never assume that you can just pack guns away with the rest of your belongings just because there’s no need for a federal permit! You’re creating a very dangerous legal situation if you do not inform movers of exactly what they are transporting.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, it is legal for moving companies to transport firearms. However, it is by no means simple. Movers are not permitted to transport ammunition because it falls under the combustible category.
That means that you’ll likely need to take on the task of moving the ammunition yourself after creating a custom shipping arrangement with your movers. You’ll need to work with your moving company to decide the terms of packing and moving your firearms.
Federal Law Transportation Act
The Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) is something to be familiar with before attempting to transport a gun. FOPA affirms that a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it to any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it.
However, the big thing to know is that some states with more restrictive gun laws treat FOPA as what is referred to as an affirmative defense. What this means is that what is granted by the Firearm Owners Protection Act may only be raised following an arrest based on the violation of a specific local law. Having the right paperwork can be critical for proving that you have a valid affirmative defense.
Can You Carry a Gun Across State Lines?
Yes, FOPA clears the way to carry guns across state lines as long as all legal requirements are met. There is no need for individuals to obtain a federal permit. It is important to follow all federal, state and local laws when transporting firearms over state lines. It’s also very important to understand that different states may treat specific gun models differently.
Is It Illegal to Transport Someone Else’s Gun?
This is a situation where the law can be a bit murky. Yes, it is technically legal to posses or borrow another person’s gun in the same state. However, it is not universally legal to possess another person’s gun beyond state lines unless the gun has been borrowed for sporting purposes. A custom shipping arrangement with a moving company that involves unloaded firearms is a legal to way to handle having a third party move guns.
Can I Bring My Gun to California?
Yes, traveling to California with a gun is legal as long as you are over the age of 18 and meet all legal requirements for firearm possession. You’ll need to ensure that your gun is unloaded and locked away in a trunk or sealed container before you cross into California.
It’s very important to look into specific restrictions based on certain gun types and models before planning a trip to California. Of course, you’ll also need to comply with all of the TSA’s rules for checked baggage and combustible items when flying into California with a gun.
Can I Move to Maryland With Guns?
Yes, you can move to Maryland with firearms. However, you must register all regulated firearms in your possession with the Secretary of the Maryland Department of State Police within 90 days after establishing your residency in the state. This includes providing details related to the make, model, serial number, caliber, type, barrel length, finish and country of origin for each firearm that you register.
Storing Firearms in Another State
It is generally legal to store firearms out of state as long as you’re following all of the state and locals laws that are in place in the state where the guns are being stored. This is commonly done by people who have vacation homes outside of the states where they keep primary residences. The state law in your state of residence won’t necessarily come into play as long as you don’t intend to bring the stored firearms to your primary residence.