Senator Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) introduced a bill to the Senate on March 14 that would institute new protections for gun owners who travel across state lines with their firearms.
The Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms Act, also introduced by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R., Va.) to the House of Representatives in January, would expand and clarify the interstate firearm transportation rules instituted under the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. Under that law, Americans are allowed to transport firearms from one state where they can legally possess them to another so long as certain requirements are met, such as the firearms being unloaded and locked in a container not easily accessible to passengers.
The new bill would expand those protections to include stops along the interstate trip and even overnight stays. It would also require that the state pay attorneys’ fees for individuals who successfully defend themselves in court under the bill. It would further allow those who are illegally detained for transporting firearms in accordance with the law to sue the jurisdiction that detained them for damages.
Gun rights advocates have complained about abuses of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act for years. In one often-cited case, Utah resident Greg Revell was thrown in jail for 10 days in 2005 after his flight was delayed causing him to miss his connecting flight and become stranded in New Jersey with his unloaded firearm. Though the charges against him were eventually dropped, police did not return his firearm until 2008. Revell took his case to the highest court, but the Supreme Court declined to hear his argument.