The incumbent North Country congressman is cosponsoring legislation the National Rifle Association has put forward that will strengthen protections for people who want to check unloaded firearms onto airline flights.
23rd District Rep. Bill Owens has signed on as an original cosponsor of a bill that would protect law-abiding gun owners from what he says have been incidents of inappropriate detention.
The bill, H.R. 4269, bolsters both the Second Amendment and the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) by ensuring that no state regulation will impede the lawful transportation of firearms.
“The Second Amendment protects law abiding gun owners against the type of improper arrest we have seen at airports in New York State,” Owens said. “This legislation reaffirms the right to bear and legally transport firearms and ensures that those who have taken the proper steps to follow the letter of the law will not be subject to detention.”
When it was passed in 1986, FOPA guaranteed the right of law-abiding citizens to transport firearms between a place where they may legally possess firearms and a destination where they may also legally possess them, even if that requires passage through a jurisdiction where state or local laws interfere with that legal right.
Owens says that since FOPA was signed into law, there have been several instances of inappropriate detention of lawful gun owners, frequently in New York and New Jersey. H.R. 4269 strengthens FOPA and is supported by the National Rifle Association.
The statement of Owens’ position includes a quotation from NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris W. Cox:
“New York and New Jersey licensing laws have been abused to prosecute law–abiding hunters and gun owners who are simply trying to check in unloaded firearms for airline flights,” Cox said. “Law-abiding Americans should be able to transport their firearms for lawful purposes without this kind of harassment.”
He said the NRA appreciates Owens’ support.
Legislation cosponsored by Owens would:
• Expand the protections afforded travelers to include “staying in temporary lodging overnight, common carrier misrouting or delays, stops for food, fuel, vehicle maintenance, emergencies, medical treatment; and all other activity related to the person’s overall journey.”
• Put the burden of proof clearly on the state to show that a traveler did not meet requirements of existing law, rather than allow travelers to be arrested and forced to prove their innocence.
• Make clear that transportation of both firearms and ammunition is federally protected.
• Protect firearm possession within any place of temporary lodging, consistent with the Supreme Court’s protection of home self-defense in District of Columbia v. Heller.
• Make clear that violation of the right to transport firearms is judicially enforceable as a federal civil right, with attorney’s fees available to victorious plaintiffs.