Traveler silhouettes at airport,Beijing

In the aftermath of 9/11, the rules governing airports changed dramatically. The standards regarding what behavior was deemed acceptable and what baggage was classified as admissible also shifted. Policymakers nationwide recognized the need for a more stringent set of bylaws, designed to keep both passengers and airline personnel safe. While these new laws were announced to the public, and broadcast widely in an attempt to keep all travelers well-informed, some seemed to miss the memo. Every year, the TSA reports hundreds of cases of handguns, sometimes even loaded ones, discovered inside the carry-ons of airline passengers. That’s to say nothing of the vast array of other dangerous items: knives, box-cutters, brass knuckles, ice picks, razor blades and scissors. And while malicious intent is in play, sometimes it is merely a lack of bag-packing know-how that results in the discovery of “contraband.”


Airport Protocol

The truth is, many of these seemingly dangerous items (guns, knives, etc.) can be travelled with lawfully so long as the proper steps are taken. The rules vary, and it’s always prudent to check with your airline of choice beforehand, but generally speaking, you can transport these items by keeping them in your checked baggage instead of carrying them on. (These allowances do not apply to potentially explosive or flammable items, however.) If knives and firearms are declared, and the knives are properly sheathed, and the guns are locked in adequately secure carrying-cases, separate from their ammunition caches, then there is no reason why these objects may not fly with you to your destination. Perhaps obviously, guns must remain unloaded during the duration of your journey. Failure to meet these obligations may result in detention or arrest.


Such was the case at JFK in September 2014, when a woman tried disguising illegal contraband as a whole supermarket trip’s worth of everyday goods. This woman, who remains unnamed, was carrying a Canadian passport and was destined for Barbados. TSA agents became suspicious when her luggage contained what appeared to be an unnecessary amount of cleaning supplies, cat litter, and snacks. Their misgivings were quickly justified when closer inspection of the innards of these items revealed disassembled pistols, copious amounts of ammunition, and over thirty pounds of marijuana. Needless to say, this woman was immediately arrested and brought up on state charges.


Even some big-name athletes have found themselves embroiled in airport security fiascos. Last spring, Aldon Smith, a star linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, was arrested and charged with the false reporting of a bomb threat after bristling at his selection for secondary screening and becoming vocally threatening. According to eyewitnesses and the TSA agents involved, he was selected randomly for further inspection when his demeanor abruptly turned bellicose and uncooperative. He began claiming that he was in possession of a bomb and then failed to heed checkpoints as he proceeded, unauthorized, towards his gate. He was eventually subdued, and arrested.


If this story teaches us anything, it’s that the physical possession of firearms or explosives is not the only transgression that could land you in trouble. Even less corporeal offenses can result in arrest; threatening statements, whether false or real, are taken very seriously. Borderline offensive jokes involving weaponry of any sort should be avoided at all costs. The guiding mindset of ‘better safe than sorry’ applies: TSA agents are trained to treat all suspicions of violence as veritable threats. What may seem like crass off-hand clownery to some will seem very serious indeed to the TSA.


Kaplan Lawyers PC

Sometimes, matters of this nature are simple misunderstandings. Other times, there are elements in play that aren’t readily apparent at first glance. Most people aren’t intrinsically familiar with airline protocol and online sites designed to keep citizens abreast of the rules can be misread or misguidedly ignored. Unfortunately, the responsibility lays with the prospective passenger, and airport security will most likely not notify you to your mistake until it is far too late. There have been many cases where otherwise law-abiding citizens mistakenly believe that it is permissible to carry unloaded pistols onto a plane so long as they remain properly secured in a regulation lockbox. This mistake, however, has proved a costly one for many an unwitting air traveler who did not, afterwards, seek experienced counsel in an attempt to rectify their situation.


If you or a loved one has run into legal problems related to the alleged possession of contraband in an airport or on an airplane, you now know the immense gravity of the situation. If you are caught trying to carry a firearm through airport security you may be facing various different weapons charges. Carrying a concealed weapon is a serious crime with equally serious consequences: heavy fines, long spells of probation, and possibly, long sentences of jail time may even apply. With this much at stake, it’s important you place your livelihood in the hands of a law firm that can adeptly navigate the oftentimes hazardous landscape of legal procedure, stand steadfastly by your side and wholeheartedly serve your needs. Kaplan Lawyers PC displays these values in epitomical fashion; our compassionate and professional team of attorneys can provide for you unparalleled legal representation. If you are unsure of where you stand, or of what to do next, contact us today to set up a consultation. During our consultations, we can review your options and begin building the foundation of your case. It’s a free and easy way to start fighting for your rights.