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Old January 9, 2012, 09:48 AM   #1
KBP
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When is a gun not a gun?

I am sure this topic has been discussed somewhere but not that I can find. I had a friend that is a contractor who travels a lot pass thru New Jersey. He has a cc permit from PA. He was stopped for a taillight out and the Officer asked if he had any weapons in his car. He told them he did. It was packed away in the trunk in his backpack. He forgot it was there until the officer asked. To make a long story short, he was in for a world of trouble. He had to go to court. He was able to plea down the felony he was charged with and lost his Kimber, had to pay for a lawyer and a very high fine. I guess he was lucky he ever got out of the state! Here is my question- What if the pistol was fully taken apart? What if was locked in a portable safe? I want to travel from PA to Texas and take one of my pistols for self defense down in Texas. Some states recognize my PA cc permit and some don't. How can I do this? I will be in Texas for some time. Can I ship any part of the broken down pistol to Texas and carry the rest? When is a gun not considered a gun? If I only have part of it with me or when it is fully broken down and stored in the trunk?
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Old January 9, 2012, 09:56 AM   #2
Flapjack23
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I believe the serialized receiver is considered the "firearm". Everything else is parts...barrel, slide, trigger, ect.
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:01 AM   #3
CowTowner
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These may be useful to you:

The NRA's guide to Interstate Transportation of Firearms
http://www.nraila.org/gunlaws/federal/read.aspx?id=59

Gun Laws and Travel Guide
http://www.allstays.com/Features/gun...-travel-guide/

http://www.handgunlaw.us/ - Always a good resource

And I book I have in my home
http://www.gunlaws.com/travel.htm
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:10 AM   #4
Rifleman1776
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I have often wondered why, without probable cause, an officer even has the right to question if someone has a firearm in his possession. This is the only item the Constitution gives us a right to own. Are we required to respond? What if he asked if we have shoes in our car? Does he have that right? Are we required to respond? Just wonderin'........
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Old January 9, 2012, 11:49 AM   #5
jgcoastie
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Your friend said "Yes."

Your friend should have said "I have an unloaded handgun in a case in my trunk. I am transporting that firearm in accordance with, and under the protection of, the Firearm Owners Protection Act."


As far as what you should do... Google Maps has your route from PA to TX crossing into the following states, in order of travel:

Pennsylvania -CWP Issue State
Ohio - PA CWP Not Valid
Kentucky - PA CWP Valid
Tennessee - PA CWP Valid
Arkansas - PA CWP Valid
Texas - PA CWP Valid

Ohio is the only state where you would not be allowed to carry your handgun under provisions of your PA CWP during your transit. So the next question is "Does Ohio allow unlicensed vehicle carry?" No. So you'll have to unload, encase (preferably locked case), and store your handgun in a non-accessible area of your vehicle (trunk, cargo compartment of an SUV, under the backseat of a pickup, etc) in order to travel under the protection of FOPA.

Before I transferred and drove cross-country to Michigan, I mapped out my route and made a list of all the states I'd be traveling through. I made a folder for each state's gun laws and put them in a plastic collapsible organizer. When I crossed into a new state, I'd pull out that state's folder and take a look at the laws. Each folder contained the following information:

CWP Reciprocity with Mississippi (my CWP issue state)?
Unlicensed vehicle carry/special requirements (glovebox, etc)?
Must inform officer of carry?
Places off-limits with permit?
Handgun/magazine capacity restrictions?
Deadly force laws?
Castle doctrine apply to vehicle?

I would recommend anyone traveling across multiple states do something similar to inform yourself of the applicable laws where you will be traveling. This way, you won't be straining to remember whether you have to put the gun in your center console, or if you have to lock it up in the trunk.
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Last edited by jgcoastie; January 9, 2012 at 11:58 AM.
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Old January 9, 2012, 01:08 PM   #6
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^^^ Exactly what jgcoastie wrote. Your trip is entirely different from your friend's situation. He was IN New Jersey, and not allowed to possess a firearm in New Jersey. End of discussion. He was extremely fortunate.
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Old January 9, 2012, 01:16 PM   #7
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if he was just Passing thru NJ he didn't break any law.
His attorney sucked

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Old January 9, 2012, 01:20 PM   #8
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The purpose of asking is to be able to arrest citizens with no intention of committing a crime. Any criminal looking to harm the LEO (the purported reason for this asinine question) would always answer NO.

Answer as you see fit.

I keep a car where the LEO can see the contents of the passenger compartment, documentation is up to date and I have never had anything outstanding. I would never consent to a search, give no grounds to justify a officer safety search and would like to see the reason on a warrant.
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Old January 9, 2012, 01:42 PM   #9
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I see this from a different perspective. If the firearm(s) were unloaded and secure (locked up). That is not a concealed carry--it is a transportation of firearms--which (as far as I know) as long as you are the legitimate owner and you are proceeding to/from either a scheduled match or a residence of yours--you are covered by FEDERAL law which supersedes any state laws.

As for not revealing that you have weapons--that most likely will go badly for you the way I see it. If the LEO asks if you have any--probably his background check already revealed something about firearms would be my guess--though I don't know how widely that info is shared between states.
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Old January 9, 2012, 02:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
If the LEO asks if you have any--probably his background check already revealed something about firearms would be my guess--though I don't know how widely that info is shared between states.
I don't know of any state that attaches that information to a driver's license. In some states, if you have a carry permit, that information comes up in a license check in that state, but the information is not reported to any federal agency.

As far as simply owning guns...that wouldn't come up.

"Do you have any drugs or weapons in the vehicle" is a common question at traffic stops. If you're asked that, it doesn't mean you're suspected of something. The question is designed to provoke a response.

If a law-abiding person gets pulled over, and the officer asks that question, the reaction is normal. If someone's hiding something, they'll flinch, start looking around the cabin (usually right at whatever they're hiding), or they'll get nervous and start stammering. That's a cue to the officer to dig a bit deeper.
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Old January 9, 2012, 02:19 PM   #11
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So what if a NJ trooper knows you have a TX permit (he shouldn't though). Where is the cause for a trunk search? How does an item in said trunk even come into officer safety?

If a NJ trooper finds a gun for anyone from another state in a trunk how do you think it will go over even if volunteered? Read the OP.

On subjects like this I am very Us vs Them with Them being the State. I am that way because it has been proven right time and again

I am under no oath during a stop and unless carrying under a permit with a requirement to disclose then I do not have to. In my own state, clearly within the law I have no problem disclosing. Especially carrying. In another state, unloaded and packed away, no threat to anyone and no legal compunction to disclose? Nope. To many politicians looking to hammer on gun owners and LEOs helping them. I remember the footage from Katrina and how US citizens were zip tied on their front lawns while LEOs held them at gunpoint, stealing lawful arms which to this day have not been returned. History is on my side here.
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Old January 9, 2012, 02:23 PM   #12
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Tom is right on.

Knowing how you will answer such a question in advance is the key. Being uncertain is what kicks off the red flags. Again, I am not advising breaking any laws, only fully exercising your rights.
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Old January 9, 2012, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musketeer
I am under no oath during a stop and unless carrying under a permit with a requirement to disclose then I do not have to.
You may not be under sworn oath, but when a police officer asks you a question in connection with an official action (even a burned-out taillight stop), any answer you give is in response to an official inquiry, and if you lie you are committing a criminal offense. Not voluntarily disclosing is one thing. Answering "No" to a question when the truth is "Yes" could result in consequences.
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Old January 9, 2012, 03:21 PM   #14
Musketeer
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Like answering "yes" did in the OP...

If I answer no there needs to be legal grounds to search or I must give permission which isn't happening. In the end I know I am transporting legally but over zealous enforcement can still harm me plenty while the wheels of justice grind me up until I am found innocent or charges dropped.

Personal decision and while I often side with the LEOs they have rarely been on the side of the 2A or COTUS when it comes to these matters. There have been enough well meaning individuals ground up by the system after voluntarily attempting to comply with the shifting laws and enforcement strategies around the 2A that I will never voluntarily give information which can only hurt me.
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Old January 9, 2012, 03:22 PM   #15
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Hey, Tom Servo ... I'm wondering if my CHL from Texas shows up if I'm stopped in another state and they run my license ... what information are they looking at? The same stuff a Texas officer would see? I know it shows up in Texas ... I was stopped in Arkansas last summer, declared my CHL as soon as the officer arrived at my window, and the entire incident, including getting off with a warning, was very pleasant ... was raised in NJ, wouldn't go back if they were giving away houses at the shore ...
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Old January 9, 2012, 03:29 PM   #16
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FOPA only applies if the gun is legal to possess at both the start and end of the trip, and only required stops are made (FOPA is not very clear defining what stops are allowed, but gas would be a required stop).

If you drive into NJ and stop or work, then return home it does NOT apply in NJ.

If you are on your way to New Hampshire it applies.

You have to follow ALL the conditions in FOPA to even try to use it as a defense, and that is all it provides in a number of New England states, a defense in court.

You can refuse to answer or tell the truth.

Lying to the police on anything 'official' is illegal, in and of itself.
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Old January 9, 2012, 03:52 PM   #17
Tom Servo
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Quote:
Tom is right on.
Wait, say it again. This time, more sultry...

Quote:
Tom is right on.
Oh, yeah.

Quote:
I'm wondering if my CHL from Texas shows up if I'm stopped in another state and they run my license ... what information are they looking at?
As far as I know, that information is sequestered in the Texas DPS database. I don't believe it's shared with other states, but we'll need someone from Texas to chime in to be sure.
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Old January 9, 2012, 04:38 PM   #18
mehavey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KBP
I had a friend that is a contractor who travels a lot pass thru New Jersey. (emhasis added)
If said contractor was, in fact, passing though NJ, why was this case brought to court -- much less pleaded out?
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Old January 9, 2012, 06:22 PM   #19
KBP
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When is a gun not a gun?

I have one clarification to make and it might be a game changer. The pistol was LOADED! He just forgot it was even in the backpack until he was asked then remembered and told the truth. By the time it was over, this mistake had cost him a couple of grand.(lost pistol, lawyer fees and fine) Since this was New Jersey(they don't recognize the Constitution or the Second Ammendment) I think he was lucky to not be in jail!
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Old January 9, 2012, 07:18 PM   #20
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The gun being loaded would have been illegal in NJ and not protected by the federal law. Question? What would be the best thing to say in this case? Yes, gets you thrown in jail, no can get you thrown in jail. If you say "I do not wish to answer that question," are they going to search the vehicle anyway?
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Old January 9, 2012, 08:13 PM   #21
KBP
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When is a gun not a gun?

They are going to do whatever they want to do. Its New Jersey! The Second Ammendment does not apply there! They are the law. They will send you to a JUDGE! THEY WILL GRIND YOU UP. This is their territory. Who do you think the Judge will side with? They hate gun owners.
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Old January 9, 2012, 09:30 PM   #22
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:sigh:

Even New Jersey (with the exception of the NY/NJ Port Authority Police) recognize the FOPA. In fact, with one important editorial change, the exact language of the FOPA is in NJ statute and can be accessed from the NJ State Police web site. The critical difference is that the FOPA says if the vehicle has no separate trunk, the firearm OR ammunition must be in a locked container. The NJ version says the firearm AND the ammunition must be in a locked container.

There is also a legal opinion on the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association web site that argues the FOPA doesn't apply when traveling to or through a neighboring state (such as PA and NJ). I don't happen to agree with that view, because to get there one would have to argue that traveling from one state to another is somehow NOT interstate travel, but the argument is that because the FOPA requires that possession (AND carry) must be legal in the state where you start and in the state where you end, then the FOPA covers only intervening states. Too deep for me.

But the FOPA does require that the firearm be unloaded, and either in a compartment separate from the passenger compartment or in a locked container. So in the incident being discussed, the FOPA could not apply since the mode of transport did not comply with the requirements of the law.

So he's very lucky that ALL he lost was a pistol and some dollars. He could easily have become a convicted felon and lost his RKBA for ever.
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Old January 12, 2012, 08:05 PM   #23
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What if, in response to the question "Do you have any weapons in the car?" the man had simply answered "No comment." Would the officer have cause to search the car? I am not sure that you need to do anything other than hand over your driver's license unless there is clear probable cause.
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Old January 13, 2012, 01:35 PM   #24
brickeyee
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What if, in response to the question "Do you have any weapons in the car?" the man had simply answered "No comment."
Better to ignore the question and change the subject.

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Old January 13, 2012, 08:03 PM   #25
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Just because an officer on a traffic stop asks a question, does not mean you have to answer it.

I have never been asked, but should it ever happen, I would tend to change the subject or say "no comment". If he asks to search the car, I would say no.

Our state patrol can see my CPL when they check my drivers license, but even with that knowledge, l have never been asked on a traffic stop, even when I OC and they can see my carry. Your sidearm has nothing to do with a burned out lamp or any other thing you may have a traffic stop for.

Of course, I don't get stopped very often, but I have been stopped a few times...

Where I live this kind of stuff is not a problem, but should it happen....
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