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Wishing You Safe and Smooth Holiday Travel

Thursday, December 4, 2014

With the holidays upon us, NRA encourages travelers to be mindful of the gun laws of the jurisdictions they are traveling in, as well as those pertaining to the mode of travel.  To help ensure that gun owners are informed, we would like to remind travelers of some of the basic guidelines for traveling with firearms and of resources where they can obtain further information on this topic.

Those traveling with a firearm by air are required to store the firearm unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container, separate from any ammunition.  The traveler must declare the firearm at the airline’s ticket counter.  No firearms, firearm parts, or ammunition are allowed in carry-on luggage.  TSA’s website provides detailed information about traveling by air with a firearm, available at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition.

Further, we encourage travelers to carefully check their luggage for firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition before embarking.  When feasible, it is wise to have bags dedicated to firearms and related equipment, and others dedicated to travel.  Failing to remember a firearm or ammunition in one’s carry-on or on one’s person can lead to arrest and confiscation of the item.  The official TSA blog has a running “Week in Review” column detailing the firearms and other weapons they have seized at airport checkpoints in the past week.  It should be a priority of every gun-owning flyer to stay off of it.

Similar to airline passengers, those travelling by Amtrak are required to check their unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided case, separate from any ammunition.  Arrangements to check a firearm must be made with at least 24-hours’ notice, by calling 800-USA-RAIL.  Further details can be found at Amtrak’s website, at, http://www.amtrak.com/firearms-in-checked-baggage.

Right-to-Carry permit holders face a patchwork of different state laws.  As seen in the recent case of Shaneen Allen, a Philadelphia mother who mistakenly believed her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit would be recognized in New Jersey, some jurisdictions are unrelenting in their politically-driven persecution of traveling gun owners.  Those seeking to exercise their rights while traveling are urged to consult NRA’s concealed carry reciprocity map, as well as the firearm law summaries of the states through which they will travel.

Travelers transporting firearms by motor vehicle are protected under federal law, provided they follow the procedures laid out in the Firearm Owner’s Protections Act (FOPA).  FOPA ensures that firearm owners can transport guns from one location where they may lawfully possess and carry firearms to another where they may do so, as long as the firearm is unloaded and in the trunk of the car.  In the case of a vehicle without a trunk, the firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.  Unfortunately, a few problem jurisdictions (especially New York City and New Jersey) flout federal law and will often attempt to enforce local gun control laws against those who are merely passing through the jurisdiction while transporting unloaded firearms.  For more information on FOPA and these jurisdictions, please see NRA’s Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms.

NRA recognizes that some gun control laws or policies that complicate and burden travel by law-abiding persons may seem misguided or ineffective against real criminals.  We are continuously working in the state and federal courts and legislatures to ensure law-abiding gun owners do not check their rights at the state line or the terminal of a common carrier.  We also work with administrative agencies wherever possible to help ease travel complications for law-abiding gun owners.   As frustrating and complicated as the rules can be, gun owners are still responsible for knowing and following them, and your NRA is here to help.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.