With more and more people getting conceal-and-carry permits for guns, the chances have grown for inadvertently forgetting to remove a firearm when you are taking air travel. Airport security is of vital importance for the safety of millions of people flying. Under TSA rules, no firearm can be transported in carry-on luggage, even if the gun is unloaded. At RDU airport, carrying a firearm or “dangerous weapon” in a carry-on bag results in an arrest and a fine that can be as high as $13,000.
Regardless of whether you accidentally forget to take a loaded gun out of luggage, leave it on your person, or carry it through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security, this can be a federal offense. You may be facing serious criminal charges as well as fines. When this happens, you need a legal representative who is experienced and knowledgeable in gun laws and charges, like our team at Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh.
TSA Rules Regarding Firearms and Dangerous Weapons
According to the TSA rules for guns and ammunition, airports allow no firearm to be transported in carry-on luggage even if it is not loaded, regardless of you having a concealed weapons permit. A firearm can fly on a plane, but only unloaded and contained in a locked, hard-sided container within a checked bag. If you are caught with a gun in a carry-on bag, you can face civil fines and possibly criminal charges. The same applies to ammunition. It must be in a checked bag. Airlines may have different quantity limits for ammunition.
You should declare the firearm and/or ammunitiion to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container holding the gun must be completely secure and inaccessible. Using a locked case that is easily opened is not permitted. Note that the container the firearm came in when purchased may not be adequate in securing the firearm when it is transported in checked luggage.
TSA Rules Apply to Dangerous Weapons
The term “dangerous weapons” is included in the TSA rules regarding firearms and ammunition. A dangerous weapon is any object designed or intended to inflict serious injury on people or property. Here are some examples:
- Knives with blades longer than 3.5 inches (except those used only for preparing food)
- Razors and razor blades (except those used only for shaving)
- Metallic knuckles
- Clubs, blackjacks, and nightsticks
- Dynamite cartridges, bombs, grenades, and other explosives
- Stun guns
- Loaded canes
Why Do the TSA Rules Supercede North Carolina’s Gun Laws?
An airport is an entity that is governed by rules and regulations enforced by the TSA, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The TSA has authority over the security of all transportation systems within and connecting to the United States.
North Carolina’s gun laws set forth a limited permitless state, which means that open carry is allowed without a permit if the person can legally own a firearm. In other words, if you are old enough and with no felony convictions, you can open carry without a permit. Concealed carry requires a permit. North Carolina gun laws do not apply to the RDU airport.
What Happens If You Forget to Check a Firearm at RDU Airport
Hypothetically, let’s say that you are rushing through security to catch a flight and are stopped by TSA agents after getting through the metal detector. You then remember that you forgot to put your firearm in checked luggage. It happens without malicious intention. However, if this scenario occurs, you are charged with a crime and, in many cases, you can be arrested.
First, you are detained while Wake County law enforcers are notified. More than likely, you will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are more serious crimes such as breaking/entering, larceny, and possession of stolen property and, as such, carry punishments like incarceration time or community punishment.
After you are charged by Wake County officers, you may also receive a civil fine notice. As soon as you receive a notice of fine, you should contact an attorney immediately. A legal representative can possibly help you lower the amount of the fine, which could be as high as $13,000.
Contact Our Raleigh Guns and Weapons Charge Lawyers
If you have had the misfortune of being detained and then charged with carrying a firearm in the RDU airport illegally, you need to contact our team at Sandman, Finn, and Fitzhugh immediately. With over 50 years of combined legal experience on both the state and federal levels, we have the knowledge you need to lead your defense. Time will be of the essence in fighting your case. Call us at (919) 887-8040 to speak with an attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, fill out our contact form to set up a free consultation.