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Old November 25, 2019, 11:34 PM   #2
Aguila Blanca
Join Date: September 25, 2008
Location: CONUS
Posts: 13,658
The federal law to which you are referring is the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA), 18 U.S. Code § 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms. It says:

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

I'm not a lawyer, so if I get this wrong I hope Spats or Frank will clean up after me. For starters, we have to assume that the words used in laws mean something. Often, laws include definitions; this one doesn't, so we're stuck with ordinary, dictionary definitions.

Out of the gate, in order for the FOPA to apply, possession and carry must be legal in the state where the travel begins. Your example is a person in some state other than NJ who has a carry permit, so your hypothetical traveler is good on that end. The FOPA then says this person may "transport" a firearm "to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm." You haven't mentioned that this person has a New Jersey non-resident permit (if there even is such a thing), therefore he can't legally carry in New Jersey. That means it's not legal for him to transport a firearm into New Jersey at all; the FOPA law doesn't protect him. If he were traveling from Florida to Maine or New Hampshire, where unlicensed carry is legal, then the FOPA would cover him while transiting through New Jersey. Stopping in New Jersey to visit Aunt Gertrude? I don't think so.

Shorter answer to your question: "if someone is traveling cross country to a state with restrictive gun laws, at what point does that destination state make it essentially impossible to carry at all? "

A: When you are not legally allowed to possess and carry a firearm in the destination state.
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