3GunRookie Posted January 8, 2012 Share Posted January 8, 2012 Hello, I have a situation that may be of interest to you but discovering the right answer is of great interest to me. Various state and Fed government departments do not seem to know how to opine. Please let me proceed to tell you. I am a legal handgun owner and competitive shooter in San Diego. I was planning to compete outside of the US and proactively contacted ATF to confirm no additional documentation was required to re-enter the US after the competition. ATF responded that all I would need to do is prove ownership to the Customs Border Protection Officers (bill of sale). In July 2011, I flew to Buffalo, NY from California and then traveled by car to Ontario, Canada for a shooting competition (I have all legal permits for Canada also). Upon my return to the US border I declared to the CBP Officer that I had my competition pistol in my luggage (in locked, secured cases, etc) and was en route to the Buffalo airport for a return flight to San Diego. I was immediately detained and told I was breaking the state law by not having a New York handgun license. I was told by CBP that I needed a license in "every" state I was going to be traveling through with my firearm. Agents thoroughly inspected the car and all of my luggage. As they were doing this I was told I was going to be arrested by the NY State Troopers, charged and have my handgun possessed and destroyed. As you can imagine I was devastated by the entire affair and fearful for what was ahead of me. Some of the border agents were polite and professional while others commented that I had "no common sense", seem to enjoy the threats and position of power they were entrusted with. I was even told I should take up another sport. Thankfully I had the ATF letter documenting my inquiry about additional documentation and their response on the ownership point. This averted the arrest but CBP told me I could not enter the US with the gun and would have to return to Canada and leave it there, which I proceeded to do. I should mention that the pistol was legally purchased and registered in California. Since that time I have not been able to return my competition handgun (a $1500 expense) to San Diego for fear of detention, arrest and seizure. Upon my return to San Diego I began to research this predicament. It did not make sense to me that I would need a license for every state to travel through, particularly in the case of NY where they only give licenses to state residents thereby making it impossible for me to compete in any NY state competitions. My research identified the Firearm Owners' Protection Act (FOPA), Pub.L. 99-308, 100 Stat. 449, enacted May 19, 1986, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 921. This seem to contradict the CBP statement about having a license in every state a gun owner would travel through. I was traveling from a jurisdiction where I legally owned the handgun (California) to another jurisdiction where I legally owned the handgun (Canada). I immediately contacted ATF, NY State Troopers, Buffalo Police Firearm License Dept and the State Attorney General's Office. To my surprise no one could give a clear answer as to whether I was protected from prosecution by referencing FOPA because I was traveling through NY from Canada. I was in a legal "No Mans Land" and remain there today. I have traversed the border a dozen times since July always triggering a swift and menacing response; the car is surrounded by agents, a spike belt is thrown under the car and I am escorted into secondary inspection (a delays of hours) because of this initial incident. Some CBP Officers at the border have not even heard of FOPA, so referencing it is of little use. I have a file that is 1/4 inch thick of letters from ATF, NY State Troopers, AG's Office, Buffalo Police, Congressman, etc, and when I provide the package to the officers they simply stare at them. My latest strategy was to have a gun store in Canada ship my pistol to a store in California but after checking a dozen or so, I have not been able to find one store that provides that service. Any thoughts, references or direction pointing you may have will be greatly appreciated. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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