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October 17, 2011

Vol. 5   No. 16

Air Travel

The holiday season is on the horizon, and folks are making travel plans.  If your plans include air travel, the following is intended to be a short refresher course on the laws concerning air travel with a firearm.

A good friend and former student sent me the following:

Mike, my friend, who is an Airport Police officer, keeps telling me about how many people he has to arrest at the gate for trying to board a plane with a forgotten gun in carry-on luggage or a purse or backpack.

This week it was 4 in 5 days - a 357, two 380's and a derringer.  They [travelers] were male and female ranging in age from 29 to 72.

Missing their flight is just the beginning of their troubles.  First, they get a trip to county jail to meet the local gang members.  Then there's the 3rd degree felony with [possible penalties] up to 10 years and $10k fine.

OK, folks, here it is again:

About Texas Airports:

TEXAS PENAL CODE
TITLE 10. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND MORALS
CHAPTER 46. WEAPONS
Sec. 46.03. PLACES WEAPONS PROHIBITED.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, illegal knife, club, or prohibited weapon listed in Section 46.05:

... (5) in or into a secured area of an airport ...

... (c) In this section:

... (2) "Secured area" means an area of an airport terminal building to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property under federal law.

... (e) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(5) that the actor checked all firearms as baggage in accordance with federal or state law or regulations before entering a secured area.

(f) It is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor possessed a handgun and was licensed to carry a concealed handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code.

(g) An offense under this section is a third degree felony.

About airline travel with a firearm (Source:  U.S. Transportation Security Administration)

Firearms, ammunition, firearm parts, and realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on baggage. Subject to certain restrictions, you may transport these items in your checked baggage.

As part of the check-in process, all firearms and firearm parts must be declared to the aircraft operator. Firearms and firearm parts may be permitted in checked baggage if unloaded and properly locked in a hard-sided container. Passengers may be summoned to assist Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) in the screening of firearms and firearm parts. Airlines may have additional restrictions on the transport of firearms.

The FAA requires ammunition to be properly packaged. The FAA and airlines may have additional restrictions on the amount of ammunition that may be placed in checked baggage.

Violations can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.


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