AIRPORT GUNS AND WEAPONS VIOLATIONS
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has long been the busiest airport in the nation, and it is also the airport where more guns and weapons are confiscated than any other airport in the United States. Usually, when an airport security officer finds a firearm in a carry-on or in other luggage, it’s because a traveler is in possession of the weapon because they simply forgot to remove it from his or her luggage. Of course, in a society that demands strong security, that is a mistake that no one can afford to make, especially considering the potential fines and possible jail sentences. Fortunately, however, an Atlanta gun and weapons lawyer with Hecht Walker, P.C. can provide the legal advice and help you may need.
The events of 9-11 emphasized the importance of transportation security, resulting in new, more aggressive screening approaches by the TSA. The TSA and the airline transportation industry as a whole, has taken a strict stance when it comes to aggressively screening passengers for concealed weapons to prevent acts of violence on both domestic and international flights. You can also expect to have your checked baggage searched and if a weapon is found, law enforcement may be called in to investigate the matter. It’s possible to face criminal charges even if a firearm is not loaded and you have a license to carry.
Weapons such as firearms, pocket knives, and even box cutters and corkscrews are routinely found in carry-on luggage at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. When a weapon is found by airport security personnel, the discovery of that weapon begins a complicated legal procedure that is neither quick nor pleasant. Airport-related gun and weapons violations can be charged as either a felony or as misdemeanor, depending upon the security officer’s decision at the time of the violation. But whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, resolving the situation can be inordinately time-consuming, and frankly, quite aggravating as well. It’s also normal to feel frightened due to the fact that some violations can result in prison time if convicted in court.
After an arrest on a weapons charge at Hartsfield-Jackson or at any other airport in Georgia, a prosecutor retains the discretion to prosecute, to reduce the charge, or to toss out the charge entirely depending on the strength or weakness of the case. One of the primary and most important goals for a defendant in this situation is to avoid a felony weapons violation charge. The attorneys at Hecht Walker, P.C. have represented many individuals with spotless records who have accidentally brought weapons through airport screening. We have the legal skills and experience to help you if you are charged with an airport-related gun or weapons violation.
WHY SHOULD YOU CONTACT HECHT WALKER?
One of our founding partners, Atlanta attorney Greg Hecht, served for four years as an Assistant District Attorney for the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office. In addition, Mr. Hecht also served as a DEA Airport Task Force Special Drug Prosecutor for cases arising out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Greg Hecht understands the legal intricacies and nuances that can be involved with gun and weapons violation cases, and his particular experience provides his clients with key legal insights that other attorneys will not possess.
In the majority of the gun and weapons cases that come out of Georgia’s airports, the owner of the gun simply forgot – usually in a rush to get to the airport on time – that he or she was still carrying the weapon. It can happen to anyone – and in fact, it already has. One former Georgia elected official was arrested recently for carrying a gun in his carry-on bag. Like so many others before him, he simply forgot that he had the weapon stored away in his luggage.
HOW CAN YOU FLY LEGALLY WITH A FIREARM?
If you must carry a firearm when you travel, you may bring unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container only as checked baggage. You must declare the firearm (and/or any ammunition) to the airline at the ticket counter when you check your baggage. The container must entirely secure the firearm and prevent it from being accessed. A locked case that can be easily opened will not be permitted. Be aware that the container that the firearm was packaged in when it was purchased may not secure the weapon adequately for transport in checked baggage.
If you fly with a firearm in your checked baggage, always be sure that you stay in full compliance with the local, state, national, and international laws governing firearms as they vary among the jurisdictions where you travel. Firearm parts such as magazines, clips, bolts, and firing pins are prohibited by law in carry-on luggage, but those parts may be transported in your checked baggage. Rifle scopes are permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage. Replica firearms, including any toy replicas, may only be transported in checked baggage.
The laws governing airport-related gun and weapons violations not only keep changing, but they keep getting tougher. Recently, for example, strict new guidelines have been implemented for anyone who is caught with a firearm and ultimately convicted of trying to board a flight with that firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. For anyone who does not have a gun carry permit, the charge is a felony, and a conviction is punishable by up to a year in jail and by a fine of up to $100,000. For those who have permits, they may openly carry their weapons in the airport’s public spaces, but attempting to board a plane with a weapon is a federal misdemeanor.
IF YOU ARE PLACED UNDER ARREST
There is usually a great deal of confusion any time that both state and federal laws are applicable to a possible crime, and there is certainly confusion whenever the law is changed at either the state or the federal level. If you are placed under arrest at any airport in the state of Georgia for an airport-related weapons violation, your best option will be to consult as quickly as possible with an experienced Atlanta gun and weapons lawyer at Hecht Walker, P.C. – a skilled attorney who understands both Georgia’s own complicated gun laws as well as how the federal gun laws apply to these kinds of circumstances.
The state of Georgia has some of the nation’s strictest gun statutes. Those laws have been put in place to protect the citizens of our state and to protect all of us in the United States – whether we’re in the air or on the ground. Of course, legal challenges and conflicts almost always emerge when a state attempts to enforce both the safety of its citizens along with the rights of its citizens. If you face any criminal charge related to carrying a weapon in an airport in Georgia, and if your freedom is at stake, you must have solid and experienced defense representation – a lawyer who explains your legal options and protects your rights. You’ll need to call Hecht Walker, P.C. at once to arrange a free case consultation. Call 404-369-3073.
This information was posted on 08-31-2016 and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The law changes on a daily basis, and the reader should engage an attorney through a written agreement before taking action in this area of the law.