Possessing a Firearm at the Airport
If you live or work in North Carolina and you own a firearm, then you are probably aware that North Carolina is an open carry state. Under the law, you may carry your firearm openly within the state – in certain locations. If you obtain a concealed carry permit, then you may also carry a handgun concealed on your person. However, your right to carry your gun, whether open or concealed, is limited in a variety of ways. You cannot bring your firearm into businesses with “no weapons” signs posted. You may also be limited in where you may bring your firearm by municipal ordinances. In Charlotte, possession of a firearm at the airport is illegal under city ordinance.
You may be arrested and will be charged with a crime if you are found in possession of a gun or other weapon on airport property. You will also face fines from the Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In this situation, the best way to protect yourself is to hire an experienced lawyer to defend you against these weapons charges. At Randall & Stump, PLLC, we have experience in handling federal, state, and local weapon charges. We have represented countless clients who mistakenly possessed a firearm in their carry-on bag, which was found as they made their way through TSA check at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and have had great success with these cases. We are well-versed on criminal procedure in North Carolina, and we know how to identify and use the strongest defenses in your case.
Charlotte Bans Firearms on City Property
Charlotte’s Code of Ordinances Section 15-14 prohibits the possession of dangerous weapons while in or on any real property owned, leased, or under the control of the city, whether that property is within or outside of the corporate city limits. This type of property encompasses local airports, including the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
The local ordinance specifically states that “dangerous weapons” include any object or device designed or intended to inflict serious injury upon people or property. This includes:
- Knives with blades longer than 3.5 inches, except those used solely for food preparation
- Razors and razor blades, except those used solely for shaving
- Metallic knuckles
- Clubs, blackjacks, and nightsticks
- Dynamite cartridges, bombs, grenades, and other powerful explosives
- Stun guns
- Loaded canes
If you are caught in possession of a firearm at the airport, or if TSA finds any of these items or on your person, you can expect to face criminal and civil consequences. You should contact a weapons crimes lawyer as soon as you can to fight any criminal charges and mitigate any civil fines.
Exceptions to the Airport Dangerous Weapons Ban
There are numerous exceptions to Charlotte’s ordinance against dangerous weapons on city property. You may not be charged with a crime if you are:
- A law enforcement officer
- An officer or soldier in the armed forces
- Any person carrying a dangerous weapon onto Charlotte/Douglas International Airport with the sole purpose of shipping the weapon in compliance with all federal and state law
- A person authorized by federal or state law to carry the weapon in the performance of your job
- Any person authorized, in writing, by the city manager to carry or possess a dangerous weapon while on or in specific public property.
If you have been charged with violating this ordinance, yet you fit into one of these exceptions, speak with a Charlotte criminal lawyer right away. This may be a strong defense to the charges against you.
Consequences for Possession of a Firearm at the Airport
If you are arrested for bringing a gun or other dangerous weapon into the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, then you will face consequences under both criminal and civil law. You will face criminal charges that you must defend in state court, and TSA will send you a letter, issuing a very large fine for the violation.
If you are caught with a firearm on your person or in your bag at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, you will likely face Class 1 misdemeanor charges. A conviction for this offense brings with it up to 120 days in jail, a discretionary fine, and a permanent criminal record. With a weapons offense conviction on your record, you could face many collateral consequences that impact your career, daily life, and family.
If you are arrested and charged with violating the Charlotte ordinance for possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon at the airport, call a misdemeanor lawyer from Randall & Stump, PLLC right away at (980) 237-4579. We will defend you during these criminal proceedings. Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, our goal will be to get your case dropped or dismissed. If your case goes to trial, we will fight to exonerate you in court or mitigate the penalties of a conviction.
Additionally, you will face TSA-imposed fines. There are strict regulations regarding how you may transport firearms and ammunition through an airport. A gun must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. You must check it and declare it to the airline. You cannot carry it on the plane, and you should never bring a firearm or the locked container to the security checkpoint. Other firearm parts, including magazines, clips, and firing pins must also be transported in checked luggage. If a TSA employee finds you have a loaded gun in the airport, you will be charged with a crime and face civil fines. If you have an unloaded gun that is not properly stored and transported, you will also fine charges and civil fines.
The typical fine for trying to bring a handgun through security is thousands of dollars. For certain types of firearms, like BB guns, compressed air guns, and flare pistols, you can be fined between $330 and $1,960. For an unloaded firearm, you can be fined between $1,960 and $3,920 per violation. Loaded firearms, or unloaded firearms with accessible ammunition, can lead to fines between $3,920 and $9,800.
You may also be fined if the TSA finds an inappropriately stored firearm in your checked luggage. You may be fined between $650 and $1,310 for undeclared or improperly packed firearms. Loaded firearms can result in fines between $1,310 and $2,610.
When you are facing thousands of dollars in fines from the TSA, do not assume you should simply write a check. By working with an experienced defense attorney, your lawyer can request a hearing with lawyers from TSA and attempt to negotiate for lower fines. Our attorneys at Randall & Stump, PLLC are experienced in negotiating with the TSA and getting our client’s fines substantially reduced after they’ve been caught in possession of a firearm at the airport.