Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Travel
By Ron Benjamin
Recently, a USP member sent me an email suggesting Maryland State Police are using their vehicle on-board computers connected to automatic license plate readers to flag out-of-state vehicles with owners who have concealed carry weapons permits (CCWs). The officer can elect to stop the vehicle and challenge the driver to produce his/her concealed firearm. Maryland does not honor CCWs from other states. If the driver is found to have a handgun, he/she has violated MD law, will be arrested and subject to a three-year minimum sentence. According to one MD attorney specializing in criminal law, roughly 19 out of 20 of his unlawful gun transportation cases are not from MD. Having a CCW in another state may be used by the officer to do a search of the vehicle. Similar unfriendly CCW states are NY, NJ, MA, CT and RI.
I am not an attorney and do not offer legal advice. However, during my 26 years carrying a Federal badge, I was fully aware of the rules of search and seizure as specified in the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Two phrases come to mind: "probable cause" and "plain view." I will discuss both later.
We should all understand our rights by doing some research. I suggest reading the 4th and 5th Constitutional Amendments and Public Law 99-308, The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA). That law was signed by President Reagan on May 19, 1986 and it says under the "Safe Passage" provision: "This law permits the interstate transportation of unloaded firearms by any person not prohibited by Federal law from such transportation regardless of any State law or regulation." The guns are to be secured in the trunk of the car or in a locked container in vehicles without trunks. Read 99-308 and be guided accordingly.
My advice when travelling out-of-state is:
- Obey the speed limit and all traffic controls.
- Do not have any ammo boxes, holsters, gun cases, targets or other gun-related items on the car seats that would be in "plain view" of a policeman looking into your vehicle. Such items may be enough "probable cause" to get a search warrant.
- I would not place any gun club or gun organization stickers on my vehicle windows or bumpers.
I would not grant any officer verbal permission to search my vehicle. I would let the officer establish probable cause, if there is any. I would rely on FOPA. Understand, some states reject FOPA, but I would take the 4th Amendment and FOPA over three years hard time.