Clarifying the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act
Washington, D.C., February 24, 2020
Tags: Second Amendment
On the 2nd Amendment front, last week I co-sponsored an important new bill that seeks to clarify rules about the lawful transport of firearms.
For context, back in 1986 a law was passed called the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA). Among other provisions, that bill “protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.”
For example, let’s say you were traveling from South Carolina to Texas and were lawfully allowed to possess a firearm in both places. Along the way, however, you pass through a town where local laws prohibit any such transport of a firearm. Without FOPA, you wouldn’t be permitted to travel through that town with your otherwise lawfully owned firearm.
Since federal law trumps state & local laws, FOPA was able to address this issue. It essentially said as long as you’re legal at your origin and destination, then you’re also legal along your journey. (The firearm still has to be unloaded, secured, and out of the reach of the driver, but at least it was legal to travel through.)
The problem, however, is that FOPA didn’t do a great job of defining “transport.” And disturbing trends have emerged with attempts to prosecute firearm owners who are traveling through anti-Second Amendment states and localities, but need to stop for fuel, food, vehicle accidents, overnight accommodations, etc. Once they stop, the argument is that they’re no longer transporting, which is clearly outside the spirit of FOPA.
So this bill, H.R. 5935, clarifies the federal definition of “transport” to explicitly include stops for food, fuel, stays in temporary lodging, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, or any other activity “incidental to the transport.”
This is bill is important because law abiding citizens should NEVER be harassed by anti-Second Amendment municipalities. This is one of many important steps that need to be taken to protect our Second Amendment rights.