Senator STEVEN V. OROHO
District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)
Urges Congress and President to enact "Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act."
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Concurrent Resolution urging Congress and the President of the United States to enact the "Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act."
Whereas, The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution affirms the right of the people to keep and bear arms and establishes the bedrock of federal law concerning the possession of firearms; and
Whereas, Despite this constitutional assurance, strict state laws have exposed law-abiding gun owners to criminal penalties when exercising their right to transport licensed firearms across state lines; and
Whereas, This criminalization of law-abiding gun owners constitutes an injustice requiring remedial federal action; and
Whereas, Under the "Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986" (FOPA), a person is entitled to transport a firearm to and from a state where it may be lawfully possessed, regardless of that firearm's legality in any intermediary state, provided that the firearm is neither loaded or readily accessible during the period of transport; and
Whereas, Notwithstanding this federal protection, individuals regularly confront legal issues when transporting licensed firearms through states with strict gun laws; and
Whereas, New Jersey's onerous gun laws contribute to the criminalization of law-abiding citizens who have chosen to exercise their right to transport a legal firearm through the State; and
Whereas, For example, while flying through the Newark International Airport on a trip to Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2005, Utah-native Greg Revell was detained for 10 days in a New Jersey jail after attempting to transport his legally-owned firearm; and
Whereas, After a delay caused Revell to miss a connecting flight in Newark, he was forced stay overnight in New Jersey before continuing to his destination; and
Whereas, Despite compliance with federal guidelines requiring him to store his unloaded firearm in a locked container and inform airline personnel that his checked luggage contained a firearm, Port Authority police officers arrested Revell for illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition in New Jersey as he attempted to board his departing flight; and
Whereas, While FOPA intended to protect individuals in this situation, authorities contended that Revell's firearm was "readily accessible" during his overnight stay, and therefore his actions were not protected under federal law; and
Whereas, Although criminal charges were withdrawn months later, Revell faced the possibility of imprisonment, despite his every attempt to comply with federal law; and
Whereas, That unpredictable travel events which require overnight stays, such as a missed flight, can expose otherwise law-abiding gun owners to the possibility of imprisonment constitutes a serious injustice that should be rectified; and
Whereas, In response, Rep. Morgan Griffith and Sen. Orrin Hatch have introduced the "Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act," pending before the House of Representatives and Senate as H.R.358 and S.618 respectively, which increases protections for a person who transports a licensed firearm to and from a state where it may be legally possessed; and
Whereas, By amending FOPA, this bill's provisions protect licensed gun owners who have stored their unloaded firearm in a locked container during travel and intend to use that firearm for lawful purposes; and
Whereas, Most importantly, this bill expands the legal protections afforded to these individuals by broadening the definition of "transport" to include while "staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, or any other activity incidental to the transport"; and
Whereas, This provision ensures that a law-abiding gun owner, like Greg Revell, will be protected from the possibility of imprisonment, even if an unpredictable event were to alter his itinerary and require overnight lodging; and
Whereas, Enactment of the "Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act" would therefore remedy a loophole in federal law that contributes to the unjust criminalization of law-abiding citizens; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):
1. The Legislature of this State respectfully urges Congress and the President of the United States to enact the "Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act," which is pending before the House of Representatives and Senate as H.R.358 and S.618 respectively.
2. Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly or the Secretary of the Senate to the President of the United States, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, and each member of Congress elected from this State.
This concurrent resolution urges Congress and the President of the United States to enact the "Lawful Transportation of Firearms Act," pending before the House of Representatives and Senate as H.R.358 and S.618 respectively. In amending the "Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986," this bill provides increased legal protection for a person who transports a licensed firearm to and from a state where it may be legally possessed, provided that the firearm remains unloaded and stored in a locked container. In particular, the bill broadens the definition of "transport" to offer legal protection for traveling gun owners during overnight stays; medical emergencies; food, fuel, and vehicle maintenance stops; as well as any activity incidental to transport.
Under current law, a law-abiding gun owner may face imprisonment for choosing to exercise their constitutional right to transport legal firearms through a state with strict gun laws. For example, despite his every attempt to comply with federal guidelines, Greg Revell was jailed for 10 days in New Jersey after attempting to travel through the State in 2005 with his licensed firearm. Moreover, the chances of unnecessary legal complications are increased when unpredictable events, such as delayed or missed flights, disrupt a traveler's itinerary, as was the case with Mr. Revell. This criminalization of law-abiding citizens is an injustice that requires remedial federal action in the form of the "Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act."