The United States is a vast area to navigate. It’s easy to get ensnared in traffic jams on the interstate, and to get jammed up in legal trouble if you don’t know all the rules and regulations that may change from place to place. States have the right to make their own laws, even if they sometimes contradict the main law of the land, or surrounding states.
So, what happens when federal and state laws do not flutter in agreement? According to Stephanie Jurkowski at Cornell Law, paragraph 2 of Article VI of the Constitution, also known as the Supremacy Clause, “establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions.”
Example: Let’s say it’s legal to ride unicorns in Florida and a few other western states, but against the law on a federal level. Galloping that majestic beast from the Sunshine state into Georgia can result in you having a mugshot and doing some time.
Our federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 substance with no medical value, similar to heroin or peyote. To put this in a little more context, the DEA has meth listed as a schedule 2 drug along with medicinally useful substances like hydrocodone and Demerol. The government isn’t suggesting that meth has some sort of medical value, but they straight up say that marijuana does not. D.C. and lawmakers in thirty-three states who’ve legalized cannabis for medicinal use would argue that it does, indeed have medical value. Ten states, including some where medical weed is legalized, have went on to fully legalize recreational marijuana. In Ohio, where the plant is permitted for medicinal purposes and puts users on a registry, part of being allowed to use it is giving up the constitutional right to bear arms. Illegal drug users can’t possess weapons, and since weed is illegal federally, patients who use it can’t own firearms. So, don’t pack a suitcase full of guns and cannabis into Ohio.
If you are an upstanding citizen who is lawfully allowed to own a firearm in the United States, there is a federal law that allows you to travel across the country with your gun locked securely in your car, even to states that have stricter gun laws, as long as you adhere to some rules, like making sure you’re just passing through the area on your way to another destination. This federal loophole might come in handy if you’re driving across Connecticut, a state who boasts having some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. There, a judge can rule to have your gun temporarily confiscated. On the other hand, the governor of Kentucky recently signed a bill allowing for the concealed carry of firearms without a license or permit. So, you can legally drive around the Bluegrass State with a suitcase full of guns, starting this summer.
World Atlas says the U.S. is over three million square miles of land to travel. That kind of area can leave a lot of room for legal gray areas or our own straight up ignorance of the law. If you’re thinking of traveling with a suitcase of wild turkeys, but you’re not sure about federal or each state’s laws regarding fowl transport across state lines, go ahead and google it just to be sure.