PACKED & STRAPPED FOR THE FRIENDLY SKIES?
WHAT HAPPENS IF FORGET YOUR GUN IN YOUR CARRY ON?
In 2019, the TSA confiscated 4,432 guns at security checkpoints in US airports nationwide. 87% percent of those guns were loaded. With the total number of guns consociated up 7% since 2017, more and more people each year are forgetting their firearms in their carry-on baggage.
According to former TSA federal security director at Midway Airport, Kevin McCarthy, Most people just forget . . [t]he two most common excuses are, ‘I didn’t know it was there’ and ‘I just forgot.’ The ones we’ve encountered don’t have any ill intent.”
Ill-intent or not, when you get caught a gun happens, an honest mistake turns into a missed flight, ruined trip, and free vacation in the form of criminal charges accompanied by a court date.
CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING A GUN IN AN AIRPORT IN ILLINOIS
It isn’t technically illegal to possess a gun in an airport in Illinois, or under federal law. Whether or not you face criminal consequences for having a firearm at the airport depends on if you are licensed to carry and how the firearm is transported.
If you do no have a FOID card or Concealed Carry License, getting caught with a firearm at the airport can result in a number of charges, specifically:
- Boarding or attempting to board an aircraft with weapon:
- 4 felony-720 ILCS 5/29D-35.1
- Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon:
- 4 felony-720 ILCS 5/24-1.6
- Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon:
- 4 felony-720 ILCS 5/24 (eligible for probation)
The Illinois Concealed Carry Act specifically prohibits possessing a firearm in an airport. 430 ILCS 66/65(a)(19). A concealed carry licensee arrested for possessing a gun at the airport faces a cl. B misdemeanor for a first violation and a cl. A misdemeanor for any subsequent violation. Additionally, a second violation can carry a 6 month concealed carry license suspension, with a third potentially resulting in a permanent revocation. 430 ILCS 66/70(e).
Under federal law, the TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,000 for weapons violations. Typically, a first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900.
HOW TO TRANSPORT A FIREARM LEGALLY AT THE AIRPORT
First and foremost, don’t put the firearm in your carry-on. Federal law requires firearms to be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container and transported as checked baggage only. 49 CFR 1540.5. Ammunition must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. 49 CFR 175.10 (a)(8).
Private Plane Exception?
What if you aren’t flying commercial like everyone else? Can you get around these rules and regulations?
Nope. Now deceased Chicago Rapper JUICE WRLD found that out when the CPD was waiting for his private jet to land at O’Hare Airport last December. JUICE WRLD died later that evening after taking a lethal amount of codeine and Percocet in a suspected attempt to dispose of narcotics before encountering the law enforcement waiting for him. A search of the plane undercovered “41 “vacuum-sealed” bags of marijuana, six bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup, two 9 mm pistols, a .40-caliber pistol, a high-capacity ammunition magazine and metal-piercing bullets.”
WHAT TO DO IF CHARGED WITH AN AIRPORT GUN OFFENSE IN ILLINOIS
If you get a call from a loved one stopped for a firearm at an airport, you may or may not need to see a Judge before being able to post a bond. A criminal defense attorney can tell you what to expect immediately after the arrest, as well as the next steps in the legal process. Most people arrested for this type of offense have little to no criminal history. There are going to be many questions and concerns. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide answers.
While all cases are different, our attorneys have been successful in getting these types of charges dropped or reduced. Call our office to discuss your case further to how to handle your case.