The Effect the “Guns Everywhere” Law Has on Gun Possession at the Airport

Guns and airport security

Each year, business people, professionals, students, husbands and wives get a shock at airports around the US. They forgot that they had a small handgun in a briefcase, satchel or purse for protection. The carry-on luggage goes through the airport screening device and as opposed to going on vacation or to their business conference, they end up at a local jail. If this occurs at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, they usually end up at the Clayton County Detention Center.

While some visitors believe that the new 2014 Georgia Gun Law expanded gun owners’ rights to carry guns throughout the Airport in Georgia, they cannot carry a weapon through a screening device. Recently, the AJC reported on several Airport gun incidents. Despite these incidents, it is not legal to transport a loaded gun through security or onto an airplane. We represent clients who have to deal with the repercussions from momentary forgetfulness and accidentally bringing a firearm through security at the airport.

According to the Sunday, January 4, 2015 article of The Washington Times TSA set a new record in 2014 for firearms confiscated from passengers trying to board airplanes, catching more than 2,000 of them, the agency said.  And, As reported in ESPN owned – FiveThirtyEight’s article of January 23, 2015, a total of 109 firearms, 102 of them loaded, were confiscated in 2014 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, more than at any other airport nationwide, except in Dallas/Ft. Worth, according to federal figures.

According to another recent article in the AJC, — passengers caught with guns at security checkpoints are taken to the Atlanta Police Department precinct at the airport. Police arrested about a third of the people found with guns at Hartsfield-Jackson checkpoints this year because the passenger lacked a valid permit, according to the airport. Even if the person has a permit and is released, in almost all cases TSA imposes civil penalties of up to $7,500.

Prior to the enactment of Georgia’s New Gun Laws, if you were found in possession of a firearm while in Security Line, you were charged with O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.  The Clayton County Court System has set the mandatory bail amount for such offenses at $5,000.00. A violation of O.C.G.A. 16-11-127 was a misdemeanor, which included up to one (1) year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.00.  In addition, the Transport Security Agency (TSA) would impose a fine of up to $3,000.00 for the violation.

In addition to being arrested and the criminal penalties outlined above, you would miss your flight, which was not subject to a refund because of the violation, and the firearm was forfeited.  Overall, the entire experience could cost you nearly $10,000.00 and a year in jail.

However, under the new Safe Carry Protection Law, there is an exception for licensed gun owners.  O.C.G.A. §16-11-130.2 (b) provides that a license holder who is notified at the screening checkpoint for the restricted access area that he or she is in possession of a weapon or long gun and who immediately leaves the restricted access area following such notification and completion of federally required transportation security screening procedures shall not be guilty of violating O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.

While the statute provides an exception for licensed gun owners, the language of the statute does not make it clear what is considered the “restricted access area or what the federally required transportation security screening procedures entail.  If you or someone you know has been arrested at the Atlanta Airport for carrying a firearm please feel free to contact our firm to have your rights as a gun owner protected.

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