When I’m teaching my concealed carry classes I always cover how to properly fly with a firearm so you don’t end up behind bars. However, after I explain this there are often one or two people who tell me the story of the poor gun owner who got arrested at a New Jersey or New York airport, even though he was following all the rules.
Well, I’m going to tell you why he was arrested, but remember I’m no lawyer and furthermore I don’t like lawyers, even though my sweet and lovely wife graduates from law school in less than two weeks. But let’s get back to why gun owners get arrested in these pain-in-the-butt states.
Federal law allows us to fly all over this great nation as long as our guns are properly secured in our checked luggage. This means the guns are unloaded, in a hard side case and have a lock on them.
And this is exactly what I do as I fly all over the country for training.
However, I have never flown to New York or Jersey and I don’t plan to. But there are a lot of gun owners who do have to fly to or have a layover in these crazy states and some get arrested and some don’t, so what gives?
Well, as I just mentioned, Federal law allows us to fly all over. So, if John Doe was flying from Florida to Maine and had a connection in New Jersey, he would be fine and have no problem at all if he simply went from one plane to the next and the airlines transferred his luggage as they always do.
But, let’s say John Doe flies into Jersey and he misses his connecting flight. Let’s say there are no other flights out that night so he decides to get a hotel room. And since John Doe is a responsible gun owner he goes and retrieves his bag from the ticket agent because he doesn’t want his bag containing a gun left in the airport until the next day.
Well, the next day arrives…
And John Doe walks up to the ticket counter in the New Jersey airport and declares his firearm and ammunition, as he should. And as soon as he does this the ticket agent picks up the phone, calls airport police and John Doe is arrested for having possession of a weapon.
Now, John Doe will get all charges dismissed and nothing criminally will happen to him. But, he will have several hours of his day wasted and the hassles of getting his gun back. So why was he arrested? Because he took possession of the gun. In other words, if John Doe had never taken possession of his luggage and just left it where it was with the airline until the next day all would have been well.
But when he went and retrieved the gun he violated the crazy laws of places like New York and New Jersey. Again, remember that I am no lawyer, but this is the way it has been explained to me.
So if you happen to fly through cities or states that are not gun friendly and you have a longer layover or something happens I wouldn’t take possession of your gun if I were you. I would simply let the airline transfer the bags as they are supposed to, that way you shouldn’t have to worry about running afoul of any laws.