Right To Bear Arms – August 2003

Can you carry your pistol across state lines?

Ronnie Garrison | August 1, 2003

Each September I drive to northern Wisconsin for a two-week fishing trip. I never leave home without a pistol, and I have a valid Georgia Firearms License. During that trip I go through several states and have worried about the legality of having a pistol with me.

Many states have reciprocal agreements with Georgia and honor our license. Search the web for updated info at websites like this:

I found that I can carry my pistol legally, with some restrictions, in 17 states. But in other states I could be in jeopardy. Because of their restrictive gun laws, on all past trips I have driven routes that take me through as little of Illinois as possible. I try my best not to stop for gas or anything else in that state, since even residents are required to have a “Firearms Owner Identification Card” to own a gun or ammo. I do not want to spend any time or money in a state with such restrictive gun laws.

I worried they would arrest me in Illinois if they found I had a gun, but my attitude has always been that I would rather be tried by 12 because I had a gun than carried by six because I did not. Thanks to the above website I now know I can drive through Illinois with my pistol as long as it is unloaded and enclosed in a case — where unfortunately I could not get to it in time if I needed it.

There are currently two bills introduced in the U.S. Congress that would allow you and me to carry a handgun in other states if we have a license in our home state. HR 915 sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida and HR 990 sponsored by Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana would allow you to carry your handgun in all of the 35 states that allow residents to carry guns.

In other gun news from our nation’s capital, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, aka the Clinton semiautomatic gun ban bill, expires next year. There is a push to reauthorize it, and HR 143 sponsored by Jerrold Nadler of New York has been introduced to do so. It

also adds a large number of semi-automatic rifles to the banned list. I hope your deer rifle is not on it. Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has said that President Bush supports this reauthorization, a point of concern for gun owners. The Republican leadership in Congress says they will not let it come up for a vote, but we need to be diligent.

This ban outlaws some semi-automatic guns because of the way they look. An AK 47 with folding stock, bayonet lugs and 40-round clip would be banned, but a MAK 90 with the exact same action and barrel, but with a wooden stock and no bayonet lugs, is legal. Both fire the exact same bullet through the same kind of barrel.

Recently CNN showed a very misleading and inaccurate report about the Clinton bill’s reauthorization. It showed a fully automatic rifle — one that has been federally regulated since 1934 under the National Firearms Act — and reported that it was in the Clinton ban. Not true. CNN showed it being shot at concrete blocks and blowing them apart, implying that this type of gun was what failure to reauthorize the Clinton ban would allow on the streets. Not true.

I have contacted my U.S. Congressman, Mac Collins, and he says he voted against the ban in 1994 and will vote against it again if it comes up. Collins supports gun owners to the extent of co-sponsoring HR 990 discussed above. He has recently announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Zell Miller.

Do you know where your elected representatives stand on gun control issues that affect you? You should.

Find out who your representatives are by visiting websites listed on the links page at There you can get links to pro-gun groups like the NRA, Gun Owners of America, Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and others.

Get the name of your elected officials and contact them about their stand on allowing you to own guns. Protect the future of gun ownership in this country.

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