x-ray of a gun in a bag

Airport Gun Charges 

Don’t Worry: You Are Not Alone.

Imagine a time when you may have forgotten you had a pistol, knife, or other form of defense weapon with you when entering airport security.

If you have, don’t worry: you are not alone.

Federal law allows for situations where citizens carry firearms across state boundaries for legal purposes (with obvious exceptions, such as NFA items, firearms for sale to out-of-state parties, etc), but both state and federal law both impose restrictions when it comes to firearm possession and transportation in airports and on commercial airlines.

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Georgia Gun Carry laws

Georgia law allows the lawful carry of firearms (no license required for long guns, meaning rifles and shotguns; a Georgia Weapons Carry License required for handguns) in ‘unsecured’ areas of the airport, such as airport parking, walkways, and “shops and areas of the terminal that are outside the screening checkpoint” which are open to visitors and those who have not been screened through security. See O.C.G.A. §16-11-130.2. This same code section further provides that lawful Weapons Carry License holders who attempts to enter security with a weapon or long gun has a “right of retreat” and shall not be found guilty of a crime if he or she leaves the restricted access area immediately upon notification a weapon has been found in their belongings.

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Federal Gun Carry laws

But federal law is different. While Georgia permits a license holder the right to retreat, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Unites States Attorney, it is still a violation of federal law to bring a firearm through airport security, whether a license is possessed by the offender or not. In other words, even if Georgia grants a license holder safe passage, the federal government may not, and charges may then be filed against you. This puts any citizen in a position where he or she may be cited or arrested under state or federal law for entering airport security and restricted areas with a firearm.

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Traveling With A FireArm

What about traveling with a firearm in your luggage? Individuals are allowed to transport unloaded firearms for travel in a commercial airliner as check-in baggage only. The firearm must be declared to the airline at the check-in counter, and the airline’s procedure must be strictly followed. Of considerable importance is the firearm's casing, which should be locked to prevent access of any kind. Any violation of these regulations could result in significant penalties from the United States Transportation Security Administration: once a person is arrested for unlawful possession of firearms, the TSA may file a Notice of Violation (NOV) for a civil penalty that, by the TSA’s own information, may be as high as $13,066.00. This is in addition to any criminal penalties that may be imposed (jail time, probation, fines, or all of the above).

Given the severity of airport gun charges, all travelers and visitors to the airport should ensure they follow local, state, and federal firearm transportation laws. If you need the assistance of attorneys experienced in defending travelers, contact us today for a consultation.

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