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Old November 25, 2019, 09:25 PM   #1
OhioGuy
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Clarification on NJ law

I was reviewing various gun laws and saw something that was confusing.

State law requires that a gun "shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel, shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances."

https://www.njsp.org/firearms/transport-firearm.shtml

And hollow point ammo is prohibited.

So let's say that Joe Citizen from State A with a valid CCW is driving through states where his permit is honored on his way to visit Aunt Gertrude in NJ. So he carries it with FMJ training ammo, unloads and stores it all separately in the trunk per the wording of the law, then proceeds to stay with his family. He doesn't reload it until he's back out of the state.

Was that legally allowed? What if he stops for lunch on the way. Is that a "reasonably necessary" deviation?

My main question is, 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?
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Old November 25, 2019, 11:34 PM   #2
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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:

Quote:
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.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/926A#

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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Old November 26, 2019, 11:36 AM   #3
langenc
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The couple times I had to transport across ILLinois, I gasses up, emptied my tank, got a burger and then proceeded to traverse IL at speed limit. Successful passage is one where my shoes do NOT touch IL pavement--amen.

Have not been to NJ in many yrs and dont expect to ever again. We would like to visit New England but cant figure out how to--US or Canada.
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Old November 26, 2019, 12:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OhioGuy
So let's say that Joe Citizen from State A with a valid CCW is driving through states where his permit is honored on his way to visit Aunt Gertrude in NJ. So he carries it with FMJ training ammo, unloads and stores it all separately in the trunk per the wording of the law, then proceeds to stay with his family. He doesn't reload it until he's back out of the state.

Was that legally allowed? What if he stops for lunch on the way. Is that a "reasonably necessary" deviation?
I think I got sucked into a discussion of the FOPA because of the mention of traveling through other states. On reading the question again, it appears the question is really about New Jersey state law. Since Joe Citizen has a permit or permits that cover him for all the states between home and New Jersey, he doesn't need to worry about the FOPA, but he does have to worry about New Jersey.

New Jersey does allow transporting firearms into the state. From the state police web site:

Quote:
All firearms transported into the State of New Jersey:

Shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel, shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.
The firearm should not be directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the passenger compartment, the firearm and ammunition must be in a locked container other than the vehicle's glove compartment or console.

For additional exemptions refer to Chapter 39, namely 2C:39-6g.
Based on the above, I would say the scenario described would be legal.

[Edit to add] And I would be wrong in saying that. See post #9 by Spats McGee.
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Old November 26, 2019, 02:37 PM   #5
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I live in NJ, Iron Rule is in a container, in the trunk-or covered up. I drive an old station wagon, cover everything with a blanket or sleeping bag. Last time I was stopped, I was not transporting, the LEO did not ask.
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Old November 26, 2019, 06:53 PM   #6
OhioGuy
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So if it's unloaded and separate from (non hollow point) ammunition, someone from out of state may transport it into NJ and out again so long as it stays locked?
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Old November 27, 2019, 01:36 PM   #7
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Let's clear up some misconceptions.

First off hollow point ammunition isn't illegal in NJ. You can buy it at all the ranges. It is only legal to use it at home/property you own, business that you own, or a range however. I'm not sure about hunting...

Next, if your destination is NJ I'd seriously recommend just leaving it at home. If you won't for whatever reason, understand that having a so called high capacity magazine is a felony. In this state that is anything that can hold more than 10 rounds in a detachable magazine, 6 for a shotgun with a detachable magazine. There are a number of banned by name guns, banned features/accessories, etc. Here are some "evil" wink wink features banned in NJ.

Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and at least two of the following:
Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
Barrel shroud safety feature that prevents burns to the operator (does not include the slide of a pistol)
Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.

Anything deemed illegal by NJ can get you into a lot of trouble where guns are concerned. Many cops don't understand FOPA, so even passing through the state could potentially be a hassle. Many DA's like making gun owners life miserable even knowing that you'll be exonerated, so expect a lot of time getting it worked out if in the unlikely event it ever comes up.

The reality is your chances of being sucked into this mess is exceedingly small unless you do something really dumb though. People make a big deal about it because IF it happens, it can get really ugly. But in practice it doesn't happen very often. I've lived here 30 years and never had an issue, nor do I know anyone who has had an issue. I've only heard "the stories". It's the rare cop who is actively looking for a reason to search your vehicle for illegal guns... See the first sentence of this paragraph for the exception

If your destination is NJ, for the love of god make sure your magazines and guns aren't breaking NJ law and it'll probably be fine.

Last edited by NJgunowner; November 27, 2019 at 03:01 PM.
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Old November 27, 2019, 02:25 PM   #8
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Ohioguy, your destination state is NJ. FOPA only applies to pass though states like Pennsylvannia.
You need to make sure you are allowed to possess a handgun in NJ as a non resident, and your firearms need to be NJ compliant.

My advice, leave it at home.
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Old November 28, 2019, 06:47 AM   #9
Spats McGee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OhioGuy View Post
....So let's say that Joe Citizen from State A with a valid CCW is driving through states where his permit is honored on his way to visit Aunt Gertrude in NJ. So he carries it with FMJ training ammo, unloads and stores it all separately in the trunk per the wording of the law, then proceeds to stay with his family. He doesn't reload it until he's back out of the state.

Was that legally allowed? What if he stops for lunch on the way. Is that a "reasonably necessary" deviation?

My main question is, 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?
I think you're gotten a couple of questions tangled up here, OhioGuy. The first is the FOPA question on interstate transport of firearms through restrictive states. Aguila Blanca has already given you a quick primer on that.

The second question involves transporting a firearm into a state, meaning that your destination (Aunt Gertrude's house) is in the restrictive state (NJ). FOPA does not apply. Interestingly, a look at the notes of decisions under 18 USC 926A (FOPA) taught me something. There's a case out there that says that FOPA is "so vague and amorphous that its enforcement would strain judicial competence, and therefore § 1983 did not provide damages remedy for alleged violation of statute." IOW, even if NJ violates FOPA, a litigant cannot successfully sue under 42 USC § 1983. I'll give y'all 3 guesses as to where that case originated.

In any event, let's turn to NJ law, with the caveat that I'm not licensed there.
Quote:
b. Handguns. (1) Any person who knowingly has in his possession any handgun, including any antique handgun, without first having obtained a permit to carry the same as provided in N.J.S.2C:58-4, is guilty of a crime of the second degree. (2)....

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-5 (West)
In short, no pistol in NJ without a permit. You have to look at section 2C:58-4 to deal with those. This question isn't about all of the nitpicky details and requirements, so I'm not going to go down that road. I will note however, that § 2C:39-5 does say "....in the case of a nonresident ...." in several places. Obviously, the NJ legislature contemplated nonresidents being allowed to get carry permits. Whether that has played out in the attendant regulations and processes is an entirely different question.
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