Here is a letter I wrote to my Representative urging his support for H.R. 358, a bill to clarify and improve the law protecting interstate transportation of firearms. You have my permission to use this letter word-for-word, although for maximum effect, I would strongly encourage personalizing it before sending it to your Congressperson.
I am writing to urge your support for H.R.358, a bill to amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to more comprehensively address the interstate transportation of firearms or ammunition.
Under current law, legislation known as the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) provides some protections for firearm owners to transport firearms while traveling between states. The law requires that the firearms and ammunition are locked up and unloaded. In addition, the law requires that the person transporting the firearms must be able to legally possess the firearms in both the state where the trip started and the destination state.
Despite FOPA, law enforcement in some states, especially those in the northeastern United States, will still arrest law abiding citizens for possessing firearms even though those firearms were transported in accordance with Federal interstate transportation requirements. In situations like these, defendants are forced to endure out-of-state trials. A defendant has no recourse other than to assert an affirmative defense according to 18 U.S.C. § 926A.
This bill would clarify the intent of Federal law by specifying that a person may not be arrested for possession of a firearm as long as the Federal interstate transportation regulations are being followed. In addition, this bill attempts to dissuade law enforcement from making such an arrest by specifying that the court shall award to the prevailing defendant damages and relief including a reasonable attorney’s fee.
As a law abiding gun owner who travels frequently, this bill is extremely important to me. I frequently drive through states like New York, which is a particularly hostile state to firearm owners. For example, if I am driving from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania—both states where I can legally possess a firearm—I have no choice but to drive through New York. If I were to be stopped by a police officer, there is a good chance I could be arrested despite the intentions of Congress in passing FOPA. If I were to be arrested, it would be a financial burden to post bail. Worse still, it would be a financial burden when I lose my job as a result. This is not justice, nor is it what Congress intended. I urge you to protect my rights.
<insert your name here>