Griffith, Hatch, Introduce Legislation to Improve Firearm Transportation Laws

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have introduced legislation to address a critical gap in U.S. law related to the transportation of firearms. Under current regulations, many law-abiding Americans unwittingly violate disparate rules governing the transportation of firearms across state lines.  Griffith and Hatch’s bills would amend the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 to clarify a number of key provisions.

Griffith’s legislation is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Additionally, the text of last Congress’s version of this bill was passed by the House of Representatives in February of 2016 by a vote of 239 to 165 as an amendment to H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act. The SHARE Act, with that language, subsequently passed the House and was included in the House Amendment to S. 2012, the comprehensive energy bill of last Congress.

“I believe it is important to defend the Second Amendment right of law-abiding gun owners,” said Griffith. “Current federal law or the Second Amendment of the Constitution should neither be misinterpreted nor ignored to prevent law-abiding, responsible gun owners from traveling throughout the country with firearms so long as they are in compliance with federal law while in transit.”

“This bill safeguards our Second Amendment rights by strengthening federal protections for responsible gun owners travelling across state lines,” Hatch said.  “By amending the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986, this commonsense proposal puts an end to the harassment of upstanding citizens who happen to stay overnight, fuel up, or stop for an emergency during their travels in another state.”

National Rifle Association:

“On behalf of the NRA’s five-million members and law-abiding gun owners across the country, I want to thank Sen. Hatch and Congressman Griffith for sponsoring legislation to ensure that those who legally transport their firearms, ammunition and magazines are protected from harassment and prosecution,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “This legislation will restore the intent of Congress to protect law-abiding Americans who exercise their fundamental Second Amendment rights when they travel.”

National Shooting Sports Foundation:

“Representative Griffith and Senator Hatch’s bills addresses a critical gap in all Americans' abilities to exercise their Second Amendment rights and participate in hunting and shooting sports across state lines,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.  “We support this legislation because it will ensure that law-abiding gun owners will not unwittingly be in violation of varying state laws when they travel across state lines to hunt or participate in a shooting sports activities.”


Transportation of Firearms or Ammunition: Replaces the text of USC 18 Section 926A to provide that:

  • Transportation of firearms or ammunition
    • Allow a person who is not prohibited from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm or ammunition to transport a firearm, ammunition, or detachable magazine or feeding device for ammunition for any lawful purpose from any place where the person may lawfully possess, carry, or transport the firearm, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device to any other such place if, during the transportation, the firearm is unloaded.
      • If the transportation is by motor vehicle, the firearm, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device must not be directly accessible from the passenger compartment or, for vehicles without a separate compartment, the firearm, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device must be secured and in a locked container.
      • If the transportation is by any other means, the firearm, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device must be secured and in a locked container.
  • “Transport” is defined to include staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental to the transport; but does not include transportation with the intent to commit a crime that involves the use or threatened use of force, or with the knowledge, or reasonable cause to believe, that a crime is to be committed in the course of, or arising from, the transportation.
  • The bill prevents a person who is transporting a firearm, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device from being arrested or otherwise detained for violation of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any locality related solely to the possession, transportation, or carrying of firearms, unless there is probable cause the person is doing so in violation of the manner provided in the above section.
  • In a criminal proceeding on this section, the prosecution shall bear the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the conduct of the person did not satisfy the conditions of this section.
  • The bill allows a person who successfully asserts this section as a defense in a criminal proceeding to be awarded a reasonable attorney's fee.
  • The bill allows a person deprived of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by this section to bring an action against any responsible person, including a State or locality.
  • Successful plaintiffs shall be awarded damages and other relief the court deems appropriate, including a reasonable attorney’s fee.
  • Provides a clerical amendment to incorporate the ammunition provisions of this section to the table of sections for the chapter.



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