Guns in the Airport
In 2014, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 60, also known as the Safe Carry Protection Act. With this bill, gun owners with carry licenses are able to take their firearms with them into many more areas, including some government buildings, into bars and into school zones. They can even be carried into places of worship, unless disallowed by the church itself. Perhaps the most controversial part of the so-called “Guns Everywhere Bill” is the section regarding airports.
It is true that you can technically carry a gun into an airport if you have a carrying license. In fact, in 2015, a man tested the law by carrying a fully-loaded AR-15 into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, which was deemed perfectly legal. What news reports didn’t say, however, is that the man did not go past any security checkpoints with his gun. Doing so can land you in legal trouble not only with Georgia law enforcement officers, but with the federal government as well. If you have had gun charges at the airport brought against you, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Call the lawyers at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo today at 770-685-6400 for a free consultation.
Where Can I Carry a Gun at Hartsfield-Jackson?
If you have a carry license, you are allowed to possess your firearm in certain areas of a commercial airport, as laid out in Georgia Code Section 16-11-130.2. These areas include:
- The parking lot
- The main lobby and walkway
- Shops in the terminal
What connects all of these areas? You don’t have to go through security screening to get to them. Trying to get through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening area with a firearm (or any weapon) on your person can be a felony. If you are in possession of a firearm as you go through the screening area, and leave immediately, you will generally not be charged. But if you do make it through security screening somehow with a weapon, you will be charged with at least a misdemeanor. If it is proven you have intent to commit a crime with that weapon, you will be charged with a felony, punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $15,000 and/or a prison sentence of 1 to 10 years.
According to Georgia Code Section 16-12-127, it is also illegal to try to conceal a weapon in order to sneak it onto a plane. This includes placing in a container or the freight of a transportation company, as well as into the baggage of another person without their knowledge. This is a felony, and is punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $15,000. In some cases, you may also be charged with the federal crime of terrorism, which carries with it very serious penalties.
So how do you bring your gun with you on a trip? Don’t have it accessible to you, or any other passenger. Georgia Code Section 16-12-123, section (b), explains how to avoid any trouble when traveling with your firearm. Your gun should be in a secure case, checked in and properly declared. That way, it is inaccessible to passengers, and the flight company as well as the TSA are fully aware that it is on board.
Legal Representation for Gun Charges at the Airport
With the freedom we enjoy in Atlanta to carry our guns with us just about wherever we go, it’s sometimes easy to forget we have them on us when we travel. Sometimes it is enough to quickly leave the security checkpoint line when a legally-carried firearm is discovered. Other times, however, charges will be brought against you. In those cases, you need help from experienced attorneys. The legal team at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo has decades of combined experience representing clients in criminal cases. If you gun charges at an airport in Atlanta have been brought against you, contact us today at 770-685-6400 for a free initial consultation.