Can My Moving Company Transport My Firearms Across State Lines?
The founding fathers of the United States guaranteed that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” They didn’t say anything about your moving company’s rights. So if you’re wondering, “Can a moving company transport firearms across state lines?” or wondering if you can just do it yourself, then familiarize yourself with the following guidelines before moving day.
Always Check Applicable State Laws First
State and federal firearms laws are subject to change, and this summary is not to be considered official legal advice. If you still have questions about specific laws along your route, consult an attorney for guidance. Ultimately, compliance with the law is your responsibility.
Do Peaceable Journey Laws Apply During Interstate Moves?
Federal Peaceable Journey laws give firearm owners the right to transport their weapons from Point A to Point B, so long as they’re legally permitted to own those firearms in both locations. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be federal laws if they weren’t also complicated, so you should still read the fine print before your interstate move. Also, some states have their own laws about the transportation of firearms within their borders, and travelers should know the rules of the road in the jurisdictions they travel through.
And remember: Peaceable Journey laws require the guns to be inaccessible and unloaded. Safety guidelines typically recommend locking weapons in a traveling case, out of sight, and in a storage area like a trunk or truck bed. Ammunition should be stored separately, likewise in a locked case. The law becomes further complicated if you’re traveling in an RV or mobile home.
So I Can Transport Firearms Across State Lines When Moving?
Short answer: yes, although there are certain restrictions. Federal law allows individuals to transport legally acquired firearms across state lines for lawful purposes, and so no federal permit is needed. But federal law does place strict limitations on certain people; furthermore, guns and weapons legal in one state might violate regulations in other states.
Who is prohibited from the interstate transportation of guns? From the National Rifle Association
“convicted felons; persons under indictment for felonies; adjudicated “mental defectives” or those who have been involuntarily committed to mental institutions; illegal drug users; illegal aliens and most non-immigrant aliens; dishonorably discharged veterans; those who have renounced their U.S. citizenship; fugitives from justice; persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence; and persons subject to certain domestic violence restraining orders.”
What about FOPA? Doesn’t Federal Law Give Me the Right to Transport My Firearm When Moving?
The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) does protect gun owners transporting weapons from local or state restrictions that would otherwise restrict their passage (provided the gun is unloaded and out of reach). Ammunition kept in the trunk or locked container is also covered. Unfortunately, FOPA’s protections have been found to be weaker in the Northeast.
In New York, where gun laws are particularly strict, the State Police don’t always recognize FOPA, and have arrested gun owners traveling through New York even if they were in compliance.
Remember: States like New York treat FOPA as an “affirmative defense” that only applies after an arrest. Keep all permits accessible and do not handle weapons while traveling. The NRA also suggests printing out relevant portions of FOPA and other firearm laws when traveling across state lines. If you plan to carry weapons on your person while moving, these protections will not apply.
If flying, you cannot take firearms or ammo in carry-on luggage. You may be able to transport them in checked baggage, but consult your airline’s current rules and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines before you hit the airport.
Will My Movers Take My Guns? Can a Moving Company Transport Firearms across State Lines?
Movers will generally agree to transport the firearms themselves but won’t agree to transport the ammunition. Most licensed movers are prohibited from moving dangerous and/or combustible items and material, such as propane tanks, aerosols, paint and other chemicals, as well as ammunition. High temperatures could cause the items to ignite or explode en route, so licensed movers have to play it safe.
White glove movers or moving companies with packing, crating and shipping departments might also be able to arrange separate custom shipping for firearms. If you do ship your firearms, you probably won’t be able to ship ammunition too. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) guidelines also prohibit you from marking or indicating in any way that there is a gun inside the crate. Keep permits and other information with you when traveling, not in the shipping container. Gun safes can be transported with other household items, so long as they’re empty and unlocked.
If you have any questions about moving with guns, or whether a moving company can transport your guns across state lines for you, then ask your moving company in advance whether they can accommodate your needs. And please, do not give firearms or ammunition to a moving company without their knowledge.
Cirdan Imbler writes for Puget Sound Moving, a moving company based in Kent and Seattle, Wash., that provides local and long distance moves with an attention to detail and problem solving.