New York firearms attorneys Tilem & Associates have been following the increasing number of guns recovered at US airports and more specifically the guns being recovered at local airports such as LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark with sometimes devastating consequences. As reported in the New York Times in June 2014, from 2011 until June 2014 the TSA had seen a steady rise in guns recovered by screeners in airport security lines. TSA is now reporting another 20% increase in 2015. While a majority of these guns are recovered in places with relatively lax gun laws such as:
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport — 153 guns recovered
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — 144 guns recovered
Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport — 100 guns recovered
Denver International Airport — 90 guns recovered
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — 73 guns recovered,
it is also true that many are being recovered in airports in places with very draconian gun laws.
Not included in the numbers reported by TSA which reports the guns recovered by TSA agents, are the individuals arrested in New York while attempting to check there guns. These individuals are often arrested by the Port Authority Police who are called by the airline agent when the person attempts to declare and check an unloaded gun in accordance with proper TSA procedures. The problem is that under the New York State Penal Law a person is not permitted to possess a pistol of any kind in New York unless they have a license. Since New York does not grant reciprocity to any other State’s pistol license, you must have a valid New York State Pistol License to possess a handgun in New York.
Two other factors also complicate matters. Firstly, a gun is considered loaded in New York if you possess both the gun and the ammunition that can be fired from that gun even if they are separate. The other factor is that it is a class “C” violent felony offense to possess a loaded firearm in New York. A Class “C” violent felony carries a minimum of 3 and ½ years in prison. For many, this can result in a very bad ending to a dream trip to New York.
The only silver lining is that our firm has had tremendous success in litigating gun cases throughout New York and in particular successfully handling and litigating New York airport gun cases. Just last month Tilem & Associates was able to successfully resolve a Felony Gun charge by having it reduced to a non-criminal Disorderly Conduct and paying a $250 fine. The poor woman from Georgia followed all of the lawful procedures for checking her gun in Georgia and when she reversed the process in New York was arrested. She spent nearly 24 hours waiting to see a Judge, missed her flight and spent a lot in legal fees but will have no criminal record. The gun, sadly, will not be returned.
When travelling with firearms it is important to know the local laws on both ends of your trip. In addition, you must be familiar with both TSA regulations and your airlines policies. I strongly recommend printing from the internet both the TSA regulations and airline policies and carrying them with you to the airport.