A Republican congressman who has been targeted by a gun-rights group for supporting new gun trafficking legislation signed on to co-sponsor a bill intended to strengthen federal protections for gun owners traveling with legal firearms.
The National Association for Gun Rights aired an ad in Hampton Roads, the district of Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell, last month criticizing him for co-sponsoring legislation to increase penalties for those illegally buying guns or taking them across state lines.
Rigell introduced the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 with Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). “This common sense legislation has bipartisan support, and when we find common ground, we must embrace it, celebrate it, and act on it,” Rigell said at the time. In response, the National Association for Gun Rights ad said the congressman “wants gun owners in a federal registration system.”
The Virginia Republican called that charge “laughable.”
His newest bill is co-sponsored with Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Bill Owens (D-N.Y.). According to Rigell’s office, it would reaffirm the “safe passage” provision within the 1986 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA).
“There is evidence that some states continue to harass and detain folks who are abiding by the law. This legislation makes it clear that the rights of gun owners cannot be violated or ignored,” Rigell said.
The bill would strengthen protections for those traveling with firearms from one jurisdiction where they are allowed to possess a firearm to another, protect travelers who are temporarily forced to stop in a jurisdiction where firearm possession is unlawful, place the burden of proof on the states to prove the firearm owner is in violation of this law, and allow those wrongfully detained or charged with crimes in relation to this section to recoup attorneys fees.
The congressman gave as an example someone traveling through a state stopping for gas or for the night.
“As Congress looks to address gun violence, it is imperative that we protect the Second Amendment and our citizens’ right to bear arms. We must protect law abiding citizens and focus on going after criminals who have guns,” added Rigell.
In 2010, the National Rifle Association endorsed Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye over Rigell, who won the seat. Rigell self-describes as a lifelong NRA member.
The announcement of the new bill from Rigell’s office called the congressman “a consistent defender of the Second Amendment.”