The transport and ( thus implied) possession of guns not belonging or registered to you is a subject of some uncertainty as laws on this may vary from State to State.
However, in this post, we will be looking at the general requirements concerning possession, transport, use, and carry of another person’s firearm and reference some specific State laws when addressing this.
This post does not constitute legal advice.
You should consult specialist firearms attorneys, state police, or other authorities via their websites or other direct channels to ensure compliance.
This is to ensure you are compliant with both Federal and State laws when carrying or transporting guns that do not belong to you.
Suppose you are planning to use and transport another person’s firearm legally. In that case, whether it be for carrying, hunting, or target shooting, the guide below will outline the conditions and give you a solid reference from which to work.
- 1 Who Is Allowed To Own A Gun?
- 2 Persons Prohibited From Owning Guns
- 3 Can You Carry Someone Else’s Gun?
- 4 Federal Law on the Transportation of Firearms
- 5 The Legal Transport Of Firearms
- 6 All Guns Must Be Unloaded
- 7 All Guns Must Be Secured In A Locking Hard Case.
- 8 Storage of Ammunition and Magazines
- 9 The Laws Around Accessibility.
- 10 The Gray Areas Of The Law
- 11 Considerations before lending or borrowing a firearm
- 12 Of Transportation and Possession of Someone Else’s Gun: You Can, but Should You?
Who Is Allowed To Own A Gun?
Firstly, a summary of who may and may not legally own a gun in the U.S.A.
In the U.S., Federal law is clear about the ownership and age requirements about owning guns.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (G.C.A.), which regulates firearms at the federal level, requires that citizens and legal residents must be at least 18 years of age to purchase shotguns or rifles and ammunition. All other firearms — handguns, for example — can only be sold to people 21 and older.
- Citizens of the United States
- Nationals but not citizens of the United States
- Lawful permanent residents of the United States (also known as “green card” holders
- Aliens (or foreign nationals) who have been lawfully admitted to the United States as refugees
- Aliens (or foreign nationals) who have been lawfully admitted to the United States under non-immigrant visas but need to fall under certain exceptions which are not -for the purpose of this topic –listed here.
Persons Prohibited From Owning Guns
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits certain classes of people from buying, selling, using, owning, receiving, shipping, carrying, possessing, or exchanging any firearm or ammunition. Those prohibited include any individual who:
- has been convicted in any court of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.”
- is a fugitive from justice;
- is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 802);
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;
- is an illegal alien (i.e., any person who is unlawfully in the United States
- has been lawfully admitted as an alien under a non-immigrant visa and is not exempt under 18 U.S.C. § 922(y)(2)
- has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- has renounced their United States nationality (i.e., became a foreign national);
- is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner; or
- has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
Can You Carry Someone Else’s Gun?
The short answer is yes; you may provided you do not fall under ANY of the legal restrictions listed above.
Under Federal Law, you may carry or be in possession of another person’s gun provided you are not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and the gun is legally registered.
For illegal firearms – you’re going to jail, so don’t even go there!
You are considering buying a handgun. Your friend has one, and you ask him to lend it to you for a few days to get a feel for it.
This is legal.
Carrying it concealed without a Concealed Carry License (CCL) will land you in trouble, so if you are going to ‘try out’ someone else’s gun, make sure you stay well within the laws as the authorities take this seriously.
Furthermore, you can lend your gun to someone else provided you have NO CLEAR KNOWLEDGE that they are in violation of the legal restrictions listed above.
Also, the ‘transfer’ or lending of your gun to a family member or spouse is legal and carries less risk than lending to someone not related to you.
Again, the gun needs to be legally registered.
If you have a CCL and a friend lends you a gun, there is no issue carrying the weapon concealed as the firearm is legally registered and you have a CCL.
The rule of thumb here is that provided the gun is legally registered, and you are eligible under law to own a gun, there is no concern.
One other point to consider is that if you are transporting a weapon that is not registered to you, provided you are legally allowed to own a gun in the State of origin and the State of destination, there would be no issue there either.
Only if owning or having a gun is illegal in the State you are traveling to could this become a problem.
Again, it’s ALWAYS advisable to check up on the state laws so that you will not end up in custody if you are stopped.
Federal Law on the Transportation of Firearms
A provision of the federal law known as the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, or FOPA, protects those who are transporting firearms for lawful purposes from local restrictions which would otherwise prohibit passage.
Under FOPA, notwithstanding any state or local law, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach.
In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.
Travelers should be aware that some state and local governments treat this federal provision as an “affirmative defense” that may only be raised after an arrest.
All travelers in areas with restrictive laws would be well advised to have copies of any applicable firearm licenses or permits, as well as copies or printouts from the relevant jurisdictions’ official publications or websites documenting pertinent provisions of law (including FOPA itself) or reciprocity information.
In the event of an unexpected or extended delay, travelers should make every effort not to handle any luggage containing firearms unnecessarily and to secure it in a location where they do not have ready access to it.
The Legal Transport Of Firearms
In each of the following segments, transport conditions will be discussed.
While some states may have stringent laws around guns transport, most regulations are reasonably consistent, whether belonging to you or not.
To stay on the right side of the law when transporting guns, you must adhere to the following.
All Guns Must Be Unloaded
The term ‘unloaded’ means that there must be no bullet in the chamber or that the gun may not have a loaded magazine or have a round attached to the weapon.
If you have a rifle with a bullet sleeve on the rifle butt and there are rounds in that sleeve while the rifle is in transit, that would be considered loaded.
This applies to shotguns, rifles, handguns and semi-automatic rifles, and in some cases, automatic rifles.
If you have a handgun with a loaded magazine but no round in the chamber, the gun would be considered loaded, and you would be in breach of the laws.
All Guns Must Be Secured In A Locking Hard Case.
The 2nd aspect of transport is that the weapon is how and where it must be stored in the car.
According to law, all guns must be secured in a locked container.
“Locked container” means a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device. Note: these additional requirements also apply to the transportation of registered “Assault Weapons.”
(Source: https://gunlaw.com/transporting-guns )
Therefore locking your gun in the trunk is acceptable as it complies with the above.
The term ‘hard case’ refers to a secure container that is fully enclosed and secured with a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device.
You may NOT store a gun in the passenger compartment, glove box, or center console.
These are not inherently secure and are not locked.
Storage of Ammunition and Magazines
Not only should the guns be secured in locking hard cases, but magazines and ammunition must be stored in SEPARATE locking hard cases.
Remember that you can store magazines, ammo, and guns in the locked trunk of your car, provided the firearms are unloaded.
You may NOT store a gun with either its ammunition and/or magazine in the same case.
The law is clear on this, and violation of these conditions will land you in hot water.
The Laws Around Accessibility.
One of the main reasons the law requires you to store your guns unloaded, locked in the trunk, or secure containers concerns accessibility by the driver or passenger compartment.
This means the weapon is not reachable by the person in the car or by an unauthorized person (such as a minor) while in transit.
The guns may also not be visible from outside the vehicle.
Having access to the weapon easily is a violation of the transport laws as you must NOT be able to access the gun easily while driving.
This is why you cannot store your gun in the center console or glove compartment, especially if the ammo and magazine are also there.
Guns, ammo, and magazines stored in the locked trunk are not accessible.
Should you not have a trunk, guns in secured locked cases can be stored in the back of the car but not on the passenger side.
The Gray Areas Of The Law
While the laws and terms governing the transport of guns, ammo, and magazines are clear, there may be some gray areas around lending someone else your gun.
Pursuant to 18 USC 922(a)(5), it is unlawful for “for any person…to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person…who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in…the State in which the transferor resides; except that this paragraph shall not apply to…(B) the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes; “
So, what does all of this mean?
Under Federal law, an individual may loan or rent a firearm to a resident of any State for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes if he/she does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law.
Another good idea is that if you are going to lend someone else your gun, have them sign a statement confirming that they are not prohibited in any way under Federal Law from owning or being in possession of a firearm.
If the person tells you that they have been refused permission to own a gun previously or you have heard rumors about questionable behavior, then rather err on the side of caution.
Even though the U.S. has reasonably liberal laws regarding the lending and possession of another person’s firearm, laws vary from State to State. Before engaging in this activity, whether the borrower or lender takes the time and effort to research before committing.
Considerations before lending or borrowing a firearm
There cannot be enough emphasis on getting proper advice from authorities or legal entities before engaging in this activity.
Some potential ramifications to consider may leave you with a severe headache, legal costs, and possibly even more severe consequences.
It may be complicated to explain to the police how your gun ended up in the hands of a criminal that used to commit a crime or, worse, take another person’s life.
How do you come to terms with that?
If you hadn’t lent your gun, this incident would most probably not have occurred.
While you may have trusted the person who asked you for the gun, the reality is that unless you know them VERY well, stay away from this if you can.
What if you are the borrower and have an accident with the gun while in possession, resulting in injury or loss of life?
Is that something you want to live with for the rest of your life and consider the lender’s implications!
What if the person you lend it to does not store the weapon responsibly, and it ends up in a kid’s backpack at school?
Perhaps the person who is asking you has plans for self-harm or suicide?
Of Transportation and Possession of Someone Else’s Gun: You Can, but Should You?
Legally, it would appear that both transportation and possession of someone else’s gun could indeed be OK provided the primary conditions and terms of the law are met.
For temporary sporting use, the lending of firearms is permitted provided the borrower conforms to law requirements.
Only proceed if:
- you have consulted proper authorities and are fully aware of your specific State’s law and the implications of non-compliance.
- You, as the lender, are comfortable and trust the borrower implicitly.
- The borrower is prepared to sign a statement confirming that they are eligible to do so
- They have the proper secure cases to transport the gun and all accessories properly, safely, and legally.
The real question here is, considering the current state of gun violence in the U.S and the various laws of different states on this issue, is it really in your best interest to do so?