New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- In the midst of an already shaky legislative session both politically and socially speaking, bills are still being introduced in dribs and drabs. There is a lot of doom and gloom in both arenas, as we as Americans, try to wrap our heads around recent events. Some things are business as usual, and really, given the history of this proposed bill, it should not be…The passage of this bill is long overdue.
On January 6, 2021, Representative Morgan Griffith [R-VA9] has reintroduced “H.R. 225: To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to more comprehensively address the interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition”.
As American gun owners, we are currently protected by law when transporting firearms interstate from one location which we can legally have them to another location where we can legally have them. This may not seem like a big deal in certain geographic areas, however, it offers many much-needed protections for those traveling through states with varying laws and really, varying levels of respect of the Second Amendment.
Looking at the bill history, similar bills have been introduced in every congress going back to 2012. With hot button topics such as nationwide concealed carry reciprocity taking the center stage, H.R. 225 still has plenty of important relief to offer. In particular, when traveling, the protections afforded in this bill will protect someone’s ability to stay overnight in a state they are traveling through which may be hostile to civil rights. From the text of a former version of this bill filed in the last session:
In subsection (a), the term transport includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, an emergency, medical treatment, and any other activity incidental to the transport…
This provision is very helpful to safeguard the rights of gun owners on long road trips. Take for example someone driving from Maine to Florida. A concealed carry permit holder of both of these states would have to travel through many states that have unconstitutional laws. If a motorist needs to stop for gas or stay overnight in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, or Maryland through the course of their travels, they are being left subjugated to draconian laws with still felony penalties.
And this is not some Chicken Little view, not when over the years there were a series of several suspect stops in Maryland dealing with the presumption of firearm possession-based solely on the fact someone had a concealed carry permit [or just an NRA sticker]. From a 2015 Washington Times article, “A Case for National Reciprocity, MD Police Target Concealed Carry Holder’s Guns”:
John Filippidis of Florida was driving south with his family on Interstate 95 when the Maryland Transportation Authority Police pulled over his black Ford Expedition and proceeded to raid it while his twins, wife and daughter looked on — separated in the back seats of different police cruisers.
The officers were searching for Mr. Filippidis‘ Florida-licensed, palm-size Kel-Tec .38 semi-automatic handgun, which he left at home locked in his safe. (Maryland does not recognize handgun permits issued by other states.)
When the search turned up nothing, Mr. Filippidis, 51, was allowed to go and was issued only a speeding warning.
From the article, a very compelling question is asked: “How did the police know he was licensed for concealed carry, and what right did they have to search through his personal items on the side of the busy interstate…”?
Abuses of information and 4th amendment rights violations are just some of the problems gun owners face in today’s society. On a personal level, a friend was once pulled over in Massachusetts heading from Maryland to Vermont and the officer demanded to be able to search his vehicle. What was the just cause of the stop? He had a camouflage jacket in plain view in the rear window of his pickup truck. He was without a firearm and acquiesced to the search, but we as citizens of a free nation should not be threatened by such illegal practices.
Some of the other text of the formerly proposed bill seems to protect the style of firearm as well as the magazines:
A person who is transporting a firearm, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device may not be arrested or otherwise detained for violation of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof related solely to the possession, transportation, or carrying of firearms, ammunition, magazine, or feeding device unless there is probable cause to believe that the person is doing so in a manner not provided for in subsection (a).
Without a critical and judicial review of the text, on face value, it appears people will be able to drive through states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, etc. with their standard capacity magazines above 10 rounds, and hollow-point ammunition, etc.
If there is a time that lawful gun owners need more protection, that time would be now.
With constant assaults by financial institutes, governmental agencies, executive overreach, judges legislating from the bench, and continuing to deal with irrational and erroneous “screaming Mommy’s” from the ilk of Moms Demand Action, Handgun Control Inc. (Brady), Giffords, et.al. things like the interstate of lawful transport of firearms need to be protected in a more affirmative manner. As it is today, too much is left for interpretation.
Representative Griffith does have an insurance policy built into the law to act as an incentive for overreaching police to comply:
When a person asserts this section as a defense in a criminal proceeding, the prosecution shall bear the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the conduct of the person did not satisfy the conditions set forth in subsection (a).
(3)When a person successfully asserts this section as a defense in a criminal proceeding, the court shall award the prevailing defendant a reasonable attorney’s fee.
Legislators like Griffith need to be commended and support for this bill and bills like it need to be known by our leaders. Reach out to Griffith to thank him for having the moral fortitude to continue the tradition of introducing this bill and reach out to your lawmakers to get them onboard. This is about respect, the 2nd Amendment, and the 4th Amendment, to name a few rights that will be further protected.
The law-abiding population deserves this, and it’s unfortunate that it needs to be even discussed.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on Instagram @jpetrolinoiii .