Just because someone lives a life on the road without a permanent street address doesn’t mean they should be prevented from practicing their Second Amendment rights to the fullest — that’s the message behind the Traveller’s Gun Rights Act introduced earlier this month by Sen. Mike Rounds out of South Dakota, which would allow the use of alternate addresses on ATF Form 4473.
With the recent and sudden rule changes regarding forced reset triggers and President Joseph Biden announcing controversial new “ghost gun” regulations, and his polarizing nominee for ATF director, news of this bill hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. But if it passes, it will make a big difference to a growing portion of the gun-owning public and correct an undue limitation of 2A rights for many Americans.
“The Traveler’s Gun Rights Act removes an unfair prohibition facing Americans with unique living situations,” Rounds said in a statement. “This legislation will make certain that law-abiding citizens do not face a burdensome roadblock when trying to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
Rounds’ proposed legislation would update federal law to “account for various residency-related issues facing full-time recreational vehicle (RV) travelers, individuals with multiple physical addresses,” and pretty much anyone who relies on a P.O. Box or a private mailbox (PMB) instead of a street address.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R- SD).
As of 2018, an estimated 1 million Americans live in RVs full-time, according to the RV Industry Association and The New York Times. In 2019, the Census Bureau estimated that there were “more than 140,000 people living in vans, recreational vehicles, or boats — a 38% increase from three years prior,” according to the Washington Post; so take from that what you will.
“An address is an address – individuals who rely on a P.O. Box as their primary mailing address shouldn’t have their right to possess a firearm compromised,” Johnson said in a release. “Our bill fixes that problem.”
Currently, the ATF requires anyone buying a gun from a federal firearms license (FFL) holder to fill out ATF Form 4473, which requires a mailing address but prohibits buyers from using a P.O. Box or a PMB. That means people who are full-time travelers or rely on alternate addresses for whatever reason cannot complete the form. And that means they can’t buy a firearm from an FFL in any state.
Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), says the organization supports Rounds’ proposed legislation and its goal of addressing the needs of Americans who choose to live a lifestyle that doesn’t afford them a permanent street address.
“The legislation was intended to address the needs of those who spend much of their time traveling, usually by recreational vehicle, and rely on post office boxes to receive and forward mail,” Oliva told Free Range American. “Without a fixed permanent address, these individuals face significant hurdles in exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
“This legislation seeks to bridge that gap,” Oliva added. “NSSF is deeply appreciative of Sen. Rounds and his responsiveness to the citizens of South Dakota and the nation to remedy this gap in their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
In addition to Rounds, 17 senators signed on as supporters of the bill, and in the House, the companion bill was co-sponsored by 29 members of Congress.
Rounds, a Republican, has served as the junior U.S. Senator from South Dakota since 2015. Previously, he served in the South Dakota state Senate from 1991 to 2001 and as the state’s 31st governor from 2003 to 2011 before being elected to retiring Democrat Tim Johnson’s U.S. Senate seat in 2014. He was reelected in 2020.