A documentary produced by John Stossel about the experiences of two clients of Tilem & Associates who flew through New York airports, one with a gun and one with a firearm magazine clearly demonstrates the absurdity of New York gun laws and the real need for National Concealed Carry Reciprocity.  The video can be viewed here.

The video tells the story of Tricia Jordan who was with her daughter when she was attempting to fly out of Laguardia airport with a gun and was arrested for the class “C” violent felony of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and of Avi Wolf who had a magazine with no firearm and no bullets but was arrested for the class “D” violent felony of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree (yes, I know, he didn’t possess a weapon) because the magazine, even though it was empty, was capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Both, after hiring Tilem & Associates, pled guilty to a non-criminal disorderly conduct charge and paid a fine of $250.  Both had their records sealed.  However, the video shows what these law abiding citizens went through including spending a day in jail and having to hire a lawyer to defend them against these very serious charges.  The video also shows how misleading the TSA website and the airline website can be for travelers to New York who lawfully fly with their guns.

Both Avi and Tricia checked on the TSA and airline website prior to flying and followed the directions for flying with a firearm, however neither TSA nor the airline will inform you that you may be violating New York State law when you arrive in New York.  The proper procedure for flying with a gun requires that the unloaded gun be packed in a hard sided case with in your checked baggage and that it be declared upon check-in.  In both cases this procedure was followed in Georgia without incident but each party was arrested when they declared the item in New York

John Stossel also interviewed the Chief Assistant District attorney in Queens, New York which is the county with jurisdiction over both Laguardia and Kennedy airports.  He was remarkably unsympathetic and told Stossel that he won’t apologize for enforcing New York gun laws.  The Queens District Attorney’s office clearly will not be changing anything even in light of the documentary and the injustice perpetrated on Avi and Tricia.

The bottom line is that Avi and Tricia are the tip of the iceberg.  Many hundreds of law abiding citizens are arrested in New York with firearms that they lawfully possess in the overwhelming majority of the states in this country.  Federal law, the Firearm Owners Protection Act codified in 18 USC §926A is supposed to carve out a defense for travelers who possess a gun in one state where it is legal to another state where it is legal.  A 2005 letter from the United States Justice Department clearly renders the opinion that the protection applies to air travel.  However, the federal defense is very narrow and does not protect those whose ultimate destination is New York since the possession of the firearm in New York would not be legal.

Ultimately knowledge is your only defense. That means knowing the federal laws pertaining to travelling with a gun, TSA regulations, individual airline policies, and ultimately the law at your final destination.  The bottom line is that New York has made it clear that neither guns nor gun owners are welcome.

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