Trucker Lives Matter Founder Pleas With President For Action on Truckers’ Right to Carry
Washington D.C. – Every trucker who takes on the responsibility of getting behind-the-wheel of an 80,000 lb. commercial big rig understands it is a dangerous job, but dangers now posed by widespread social unrest are adding to the risks.
So much so, the founder of Trucker Lives Matter (TLM) now says it’s “never been more important” for truckers to have the right to carry a gun for protection into all 50 states regardless of those state’s laws.
James Lamb, president of the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) and founder of the TLM organization has been working to help improve gun rights for truckers for the last six years.
He began the TLM movement in 2017 and continues to press the issue to this day.
On Thursday, Lamb sent President Donald Trump a letter again asking him to sign an Executive Order to exempt interstate truckers from complying with restrictive state and local gun laws.
We’ll get back to this in a minute, but first, let’s address some misconceptions Lamb says some truckers have about gun laws.
What exactly is the Federal law on the interstate transportation of a firearm?
The federal regulations are found at 18 U.S. Code § 926A:
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
Carrying vs. Transporting
A distinction in Federal law that Lamb says many truckers sometimes fail to understand is the difference between “carrying” and “transporting.”
“Truckers should not confuse ‘carry’ with ‘transport,'” Lamb recently told Transportation Nation Network (TNN). “The current Federal law on ‘transporting’ a firearm is known as ‘peaceful journey,’ in that the firearm is not loaded and not readily accessible when transported under this statute, which does you no good in an emergency situation like getting attacked at a now virtually abandoned gas station in the Bronx by punks who are supposed to be at home.”
The SBTC is pushing for a proposal to expand and transform the Federal Peaceful Journey statute from a right to merely possess and transport firearms in an unloaded, stored state, to a readily-accessible, “locked and loaded” capacity.
Federal vs. State Laws
Lamb says another area of confusion for many truckers when it comes to gun laws is Federal vs. State regulations, particularly as it relates to “carrying.”
“Many truckers mistakenly believe that they already can carry loaded firearms from state-to-state and point to the fact that there is no Federal law or regulation that says they can’t. This belief is misguided, though, as it does not appreciate how States currently regulate firearms,” he asserted.
Currently, States regulate matters relating to open or concealed carry.
Therefore, the right to lawfully carry, whether open or concealed, is determined on the basis of what reciprocity agreements a state has with other states… if it has any at all.
Lamb argues the remedy for restrictive state laws is found in the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses of the Constitution.
“The Constitution gives the Federal Government the right to use the Commerce Clause as a hook to override those state and local laws. What we need here is a Federal assertion of power to say truckers can carry in furtherance of their Second Amendment rights and the States cannot say they can’t,” he further explained.
Earlier this year as States began locking down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBTC filed an emergency request with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to issue a preemption order effectively “nullifying any and all state and local laws that restrict truck drivers from carrying firearms across state lines.”
A month later, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) denied the SBTC’s request.
What could President Trump do?
The SBTC is asking President Trump to use his Executive authority to exempt interstate truckers from state gun laws.
“The President has the authority under the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses to preempt state gun laws insofar as they are an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce when a trucker travels into, out of, or through a state in furtherance of commerce,” Lamb wrote in his letter to Mr. Trump on Thursday.
Is the Second Amendment enough?
Even if one disagrees with the legal arguments related to the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses, Lamb says the 2nd Amendment at minimum allows for an American to protect oneself, especially in their home.
Since a trucker’s truck is his or her home for extended periods of time while over the road, Lamb says it is simply common sense to allow them to adequately protect themselves and their home.
“As a matter of ‘equal protection of the law,’ truckers should have the same rights to possess loaded firearms for self-defense as every other American to stay safe and protect themselves during these dangerous times,” he said.