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Transfer of Firearms Between Family Members Living in Texas and California

Question:  I am a Texas resident, visiting my father in California. I would like to take back two 22-caliber rifles, one very old .410 shotgun, and possibly an air powered bb gun to Texas.  My vehicle is a crossover SUV and there is not trunk.  It has been a long time since I lived in California, laws have changed, and I know nothing about Arizona and New Mexico.  There are numerous border patrol checkpoints along my route and I have little doubt that with a load of other things in the back of my car, probably covered by a blanket, my probabilities of being stopped are above average.  Is it legal to transport these guns in California, New Mexico and Arizona, and do I need to take any special steps to insure I am in compliance with various state laws.  Thank you.

Answer: Right off the bat, you should understand that you cannot legally drive from Texas to California and as a Texas resident acquire a firearm and transport it back to Texas.  By doing so you would be in violation of Federal law.  It does not matter that the transfer is occurring between family members.  The only way that Federal law would allow what you propose would be if you were taking possession of the firearm if they had been left to you by your father’s estate.  Since he is still alive, that doesn’t work.

To keep it legal you would need to transfer the firearms through a Federally licensed firearms dealer.  You can have your father ship them from California to a firearms dealer in Texas, who would then transfer them to you in compliance with Texas law.  This would only apply to the actual firearms, not the BB gun.

In terms of the laws regarding transportation, only California is restrictive in terms of transport.  You would need to have the unloaded firearm in a locked container or case as long as you were in California.  In Arizona you may legally transport a loaded long gun in plain view or in a case.  In New Mexico you may transport a firearm in any condition (unloaded or loaded) openly or concealed anywhere in your vehicle.

I know this seems like a difficult process, but with very limited exceptions, Federal law has been designed to make any interstate transfer of a firearm possible only through a Federally licensed firearms dealer.

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Information on HR 45, known as the Blair Holt Act and SB 2099.

September 3, 2009 2nd Amendment Issues, Federal Firearms Laws Comments Off

I have received a lot of questions regarding the status of a proposed bill currently pending in the US House of Representatives known as HR 45, or the Blair Holt Act.  In the email currently circulating around the web, the bill is said to include language that would make it illegal to own any firearm using a magazine unless the owner has been:

  • Fingerprinted
  • Has a current driver license
  • Supplies a Social Security number
  • Submits to a physical and mental evaluation on request
  • Notifies a government agency if the firearm is transferred either through an FFL or privately
  • Mandates the creation of a Federal database of all firearms sales and transfers.

There are a whole host of additional provisions and penalties discussed in the circulating email.

To clarify the status of this genuine legislation, I researched it on the House website and the Library of Congress website.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush, (Democrat, IL) on January 6, 2009 has been referred to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.  It has NO co-sponsors.

While the mere fact that a bill like this has been introduced is troubling, it is not surprising considering the individual that introduced the legislation.  Rep. Rush has represented the district that is principally the south side of Chicago since 1993.  He was the co-founder of the state’s Black Panther Party and served 6 months in prison in 1969 for illegal possession of firearms.  He is also a supporter of Barack Obama.  While he has consistently refused to take Project Vote Smart’s  ‘political courage’ test, his legislative record suggest that he is highly supportive of the current administration’s far left proposals.

The good news in all this is that without co-sponsors the legislation is unlikely to move forward.  Many Democratic legislators understand that this particular issue can be ‘political kryptonite’ and are avoiding an association with any gun control issues.  Even Hillary Clinton when asked about the possibility of restoration of the Assault Weapons Ban by MSNBC, was quoted as saying “it would be a heavy lift” to get Congress to consider the issue.

While this legislation is not currently a threat to become law, the legislation is real and being closely monitored by organizations that support Second Amendment rights like the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

In addition, the email also discusses a bill referred to as “SB 2099″ that would supposedly require gun owners to list their firearms on the tax returns.  It supposed requires fingerprinting of the gun owner and requires the payment of a $50 fee per gun owned.  This bill was supposedly introduced in February 2009 and further was to be treated as an amendment to the Internal Revenue Act of 1986.  The email states that it could be passed by vote of the Senate Finance Committee and would not have to come before full Senate for a vote.

Gun owners should not be concerned about this since “SB 2099″ actually does not exist at all.  The original SB 2099 entitled ” the Handgun Safety and Registration Act” was introduced in February 2000 by Senator Jack Reid (Democrat, RI).  It was referred to the Committee on Finance where it died without ever coming to a vote.  The statement that the bill could be passed without a vote is also completely untrue.  Like any other Congressional bill, it would have to be passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the President or passed by Congress over his veto to become law.

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In Border States, BATFE Asks: "May We See Your Guns?"

August 4, 2009 2nd Amendment Issues, Federal Firearms Laws Comments Off

Friday, June 19, 2009

NRA-ILA has recently received several calls from NRA members in border states who have been visited or called by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  In some cases, agents have asked to enter these people’s homes, and requested serial numbers of all firearms the members possess.

In each case, the agents were making inquiries based on the number of firearms these NRA members had recently bought, and in some cases the agents said they were asking because the members had bought types of guns that are frequently recovered in Mexico.

This kind of questioning may or may not be part of a legitimate criminal investigation.  For example, when BATFE traces a gun seized after use in a crime, manufacturers’ and dealers’ records will normally lead to the first retail buyer of that gun, and investigators will have to interview the buyer to find out how the gun ended up in criminal hands.  But in other cases, the questioning may simply be based on information in dealers’ records, with agents trying to “profile” potentially suspicious purchases.

On the other hand, some of the agents have used heavy-handed tactics.  One reportedly demanded that a gun owner return home early from a business trip, while another threatened to “report” an NRA member as “refusing to cooperate.”  That kind of behavior is outrageous and unprofessional.

Whether agents act appropriately or not, concerned gun owners should remember that all constitutional protections apply.  Answering questions in this type of investigation is generally an individual choice.  Most importantly, there are only a few relatively rare exceptions to the general Fourth Amendment requirement that law enforcement officials need a warrant to enter a home without the residents’ consent.  There is nothing wrong with politely, but firmly, asserting your rights.

If BATFE contacts you and you have any question about how to respond, you may want to consult a local attorney.  NRA members may also call NRA-ILA’s Office of Legislative Counsel at (703) 267-1161 for further information.  Whether contacting a local attorney or NRA, be sure to provide as many details as possible, including the date, time, and location, agent’s name, and specific questions asked.

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National Right to Carry Defeated in the US Senate Despite Majority Vote…

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fairfax, Va. – Today, by a margin of 58-39, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of an amendment offered by Senator John Thune to provide interstate recognition of right-to-carry permits. The amendment to S.1390, the National Defense Authorization Act, would acknowledge that the right to self-defense extends across state lines. Under this provision, individuals with carry permits from their home state, or who are otherwise allowed to carry a firearm in their home state, could carry in any other state that issues permits.

“Today’s strong majority vote in the U.S. Senate was an important step forward in the National Rifle Association’s decades long effort to make right-to-carry and national reciprocity the law of the land,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

Expanding right-to-carry enhances public safety, as criminals are deterred from attempting crimes when they know or suspect that their prospective victims are armed. A Department of Justice study found that 40 percent of felons had not committed crimes because they feared the prospective victims were armed. The Thune-Vitter amendment recognized that competent, responsible, law-abiding Americans still deserve our trust and confidence when they cross state lines.

Passing interstate right-to-carry legislation would not only reduce crime by deterring criminals, but — most important of all — would protect the right of honest Americans to protect themselves if deterrence fails.

“While we are disappointed that the 60 vote procedural hurdle was not met, the vote shows that a bipartisan majority agrees with the NRA,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “We would like to thank Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), along with all senators who voted in favor of this amendment on both sides of the aisle. The efforts of these senators were not in vain, as the NRA will continue to work tirelessly to ensure this important legislation finds the right avenue to come before Congress once again.”

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Transporting Firearms by Car from Florida to Arizona

Question: I am a resident of floria, but will be relocating to Arizona. I have CCW permits in several states, Fla, Utah, etc.  I do not have a permit specific to Arizona, yet.  I expect to drive from
Florida to Arizona in two weeks.

I have a 12 gauge Trap gun, 2 kimber 45 caliber pistols, 1 FN Five Seven and 1 Walther PPS.  I will carry either the Kimber or Walther as my concealed firearm.  I also have approximately 800 rounds of 45 cal and about 400 rounds of 12 gauge.

What do you recommend beyond ammo stored in locked ammo cases, and guns cased and locked?

Answer: Sounds you have a nice collection of firearms.  As far as transporting the guns, cased and unloaded will be fine for all states that you are traveling through.  There is a federal law on the books that permits you to transport in that condition, even though you might be going through a state that has more restrictive local firearms laws.  As far a concealed carry during your travels, your Florida permit should be adequate assuming a southern route through Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  All those states recognize the Florida permit.

Once you become an Arizona resident, you will need to get an Arizona permit.  Usually the thing that puts you in that situation is getting an Arizona driver license and plates.  Arizona permits non-residents to carry on an out-of-state permit, but if you are a resident, they want you to have an Arizona permit.

I hope you’ll consider taking a look at our CCW classes when the time comes.  We give one of the best in the state…

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Handgun Ownership by Arizona "Snowbirds"…

Question: I am a Canadian “snowbird”.  I live in Arizona for about 5 months out of the year but I am a Canadian citizen – not an American citizen.  I do not have a green card.  Can I legally purchase a hand gun in Arizona and leave it in my Arizona condo when I return to Canada?

Answer: Unfortunately, only resident aliens and US citizens are allowed to purchase firearms.  Since you are here most likely here on a non-resident visa, you cannot legally purchase or possess a firearm in the United States, which would also include Arizona.  Possession of a firearm by a non-resident alien is a felony crime.  It is also a felony for anyone to provide you with a firearm by either giving it to you or selling it to you.

Should you decide to visit a shooting range that rents firearms, you are OK as you are just using a firearm owned by another while you are at the range.

Sorry I don’t have better news for you.

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Transporting a Firearm on an Airline

Question: Can I fly from AZ to GA with my firearms and if so what are the requirments to do so?  I know they have to be unloaded and declared when booking the flight, other than that what is the process?

Answer:  Actually, the process is pretty simple.  First, you need to contact the specific carrier and ask them what their process is.  The general process can vary based on the particular carrier.  For most airlines the process works something like this:

  1. Arrive at the airport early to have plenty of time to check you luggage and your firearm before the flight.
  2. Go to the check-in counter.  You can’t check a firearm at curbside luggage.
  3. When you get to the counter, ask the airline agent for a ‘firearms declaration form’.  You will need to fill this out and return it to the agent.
  4. You will then need to show the unloaded firearm to the agent.  Make sure it is unloaded before you get to the airport.
  5. Also, since a firearm in the airport might make some nervous, low key, safe gun handling is good.
  6. Your firearm must be locked in a hard-sided case if you have soft luggage.  If you have hard luggage, you can simply lock the firearm in the suitcase.
  7. I suggest you use TSA approved locks on your luggage and / or gun case.  This will eliminate the need for you to send your keys downstairs when the TSA inspects your luggage.
  8. A copy of the firearms declaration goes into your luggage along with the gun.
  9. Ammo usually needs to be separate from the gun.  Personally, I just by my ammo on the other end rather than carry it in my luggage.
  10. If you need a large quantity of ammo, you can consider drop shipping it to someone at your destination.

That’s about it other than airline specific variations in policy.  When the luggage arrives at the other end, you simply pick it up like you would normally.  Since your luggage contains a firearm, I’d be really alert to make sure someone doesn’t take your bag by mistake.  After thirty years of business travel, I have found that luggage mixups can occur pretty frequently.  More frequently than most people realize.

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Interstate Transfer of Firearms When the Recipient is Under 21…

April 11, 2009 Federal Firearms Laws, Firearms Transfers, Legal Issues Comments Off

Question: My Father wants to sign my guns over to me since I’m living in Arizona but I’m under 21.  I know its legal for me to own a handgun here in Arizona, but I am unclear on how or if I could buy them from him since he is living in California.  I went to one gun dealer and they said all he has to do is give them to me but we don’t want to get in any trouble since they are registered to him in California.  So is there a way we can do this or is not not possible?

Answer:  I’m glad you didn’t listen to the gun dealer.  Under Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44, Section 922, Paragraph  it is illegal “for any person to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport or deliver any firearm to any person other than a licensed dealer, who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in the State where the transferor resides; except that this paragraph shall not apply to:  a) the transfer transportation, or deliver of a firearm made to carry out the bequest of a firearm to, or an acquisition be intestate succession of a firearm by, a person who is permitted to acquire or possess a firearm under the laws of the State of his residence, and b) the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purpose.

The gun dealer you talked to probably is confused about the law, which because of its complexity is understandable.  If your father died and left the guns to you in his will, it would be perfectly legal for you to take them and bring them home with you.  Since your father is still very much alive, that part of the law does not apply.

The short version is this.  Under normal circumstances, you could legally transfer the firearm through a federally licensed firearms dealer.  The problem is that you are not 21 years old.  Federally licensed firearms dealers are not permitted to sell or transfer firearms to anyone under the age of 21.  While you can legally own a firearm at age 18 in Arizona, the only way you can acquire one is through a private party transfer with another Arizona resident.

Based on my understanding of the law, I don’t see any way you can legally transfer the firearms from your father to you until you turn 21.

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Getting a copy of a NICS approval…

Question: I recently filled out the form to get approval to purchase a hand gun.   This was done at a reputable dealer.  I did not get an immediate approval as I had a 20 year old conviction which had been set aside and all rights restored.  I did get approved a day later.  However, I was able to get the gun I was interested in much cheaper through a relative who put it for me at a gun show.   What I would like to know is whether the dealer who has my approval to purchase is obligated to provide me with the approval number or whatever they received.  I have a copy of the legal document which restored my rights but other than a CCW permit is there anything I can carry to show I am not a prohibited possessor.  Thank you.

Answer: The form you filled out, the BATF 4473, is a transfer form.  It is designed to be a record of the transfer of a firearm between you and the firearms dealer.  The dealer must maintain permanent records of all transfers, whether they are approved or denied.  In your case, what happened is your earlier conviction flagged the transaction during the NICS check and it had to be turned over to an examiner to research.  That is why you had the delay in approval.  The dealer is not under any obligation to provide you with a copy of the transfer paperwork.  Honestly, it wouldn’t do you any good anyway.  Unless you have an Arizona CCW, you must undergo a NICS check each time you purchase a firearm.  The process will most likely be the same as the last time, since NICS will flag you and a NICS examiner will have to review your request.  If you get a CCW, this delay will go away as you do not need to have a NICS check done when purchasing a firerarm if you have a valid Arizona CCW permit.

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Judge Blocks Rule Permitting Concealed Carry in National Parks…

March 23, 2009 AZ CCW Laws, Federal Firearms Laws, State Firearms Laws Comments Off

Unfortunately, this is an informational post that updates an earlier one about the January 9th change in Federal law regarding concealed carry in National Parks.  In the original change, the Department of the Interior changed the existing regulations to conform to the concealed carry laws of the state where the park was located, thus eliminating confusion and conflicting laws between National Parks and the rest of the state where the parks are located.  On Friday, March 20th at the request of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the organizations listed above.  This means that until the lawsuit is settled, the law permitting concealed carry in national parks is on hold and cannot be implemented.

UNTIL THIS LAWSUIT HAS BEEN RESOLVED AND A FINAL DECISION REACHED, CONCEALED CARRY IN NATIONAL PARKS IS NOT PERMITTED.

Personally, I would consider dropping a letter to your elected representatives letting them know your opposition to this abridgment of your Second Amendment rights.  I would also suggest that you contact Judge Kollar-Kotelly and suggest that she stick to interpreting the law instead of attempting to legislate from the bench.  The judicial branch should not attempt to make law but rather interpret it.  The fact that she used the lack of any ‘environmental impact study’ as one of the main reasons for granting the injunction simply adds insult to injury.  I did not realize that as a person carrying a firearm and exercising my constitutional rights, that I have an ‘environmental impact’ on my surroundings.  In addition, based on my reading of the process, there was no ‘environmental impact assessment’ required by federal law.  Plain and simply, this is a judge who is letting her personal views get in the way of a proper interpretation of the law.  Unfortunately, Federal judges are appointed for life, so there is NO recourse if someone is blatantly disregarding their mandate to preserve and protect the constitution.

In the US Court system, the party seeking the injunction must demonstrate the following four things apply:

  1. There is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case,
  2. That they face a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted,
  3. That the balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction,
  4. That the grant of the injunction would serve the public interest.

In my own personal opinion, NONE of these would apply.  I’m not convinced that there is a ‘substantial likelihood of success’ in light of the recent Heller decision affirming our Second Amendment rights.  I’d also be very curious about the ‘irreparable damage or injury’ that this law is going to cause the Brady organization.  I’m also at a complete loss as to the ‘balance of harms’ they suffer in this case.  I can definitively state that based on many of the comments I have heard and my own experience with the gun owning public, that this case does NOT serve the public interest of at least 85 million gun owners in this country.

My question would also be, who would be the victim of greater harm, the Brady Organization from passage of this law or a person who visits a national park and is a victim of criminal violence or death as a result of their inability to defend themselves from armed criminals who don’t give a damn about what the law says.

I have reprinted the entire article from the March 20th edition of the Washington Post below.

Judge Blocks Rule Permitting Concealed Guns In U.S. Parks

By Juliet Eilperin and Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 20, 2009; Page A09
A federal judge yesterday blocked a last-minute rule enacted by President George W. Bush allowing visitors to national parks to carry concealed weapons.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by gun-control advocates and environmental groups. The Justice Department had sought to block the injunction against the controversial rule.

The three groups that brought the suit — the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees — argued that the Bush action violated several laws.

In her ruling, Kollar-Kotelly agreed that the government’s process had been “astoundingly flawed.”

She noted that the government justified its decision to forgo an environmental analysis on the grounds that the rule does not “authorize” environmental impacts. Calling this a “tautology,” she wrote that officials “abdicated their Congressionally-mandated obligation” to evaluate environmental impacts and “ignored (without sufficient explanation) substantial information in the administrative record concerning environmental impacts” of the rule.

Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the department could not comment because of “ongoing litigation.”

The regulation, which took effect Jan. 9, allowed visitors to carry loaded, concealed guns into national parks and wildlife refuges if state laws there allowed it in public places. In most cases, a state permit would be required to carry a concealed weapon into a national park.

In the past, guns had been allowed in such areas only if they were unloaded, stored or dismantled; gun rights advocates said they saw no reason to be denied the right to carry concealed weapons in parks when they could in other public places.

Bryan Faehner, associate director for park uses at the National Parks Conservation Association, said his group is “extremely pleased” with both the court decision and the fact that Interior is now conducting an internal review of the rule’s environmental impact. “This decision by the courts reaffirms our concerns, and the concerns of park rangers across the country, that this new regulation . . . has serious impacts on the parks and increases the risk of opportunistic poaching of wildlife in the parks, and increases the risk to park visitors,” Faehner said.

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