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FOPA and Air Travel

On the way back from GBR, I got stuck in San Francisco. I knew I was going to be. Prior to flying out, I mentioned to a gun rights attorney that you may have heard of that I was a bit nervous being in California since all of the contents of one of my checked bags were illegal there. And doubly illegal in San Francisco. And since some folks have said I’m actually illegal in California. I thought in the event I had to stay the night there, it could be problematic. I was told it probably wasn’t a big deal due to FOPA. Well, the third circuit says otherwise:

An unfortunate story, detailed in Revell v. Port Authority (3d Cir. 2010): Gregg C. Revell was flying from Salt Lake City to Allentown, Pennsylvania, via Minneapolis and Newark. He had an unloaded gun legally checked in his luggage, which was supposed to meet him at Allentown.

Supposed to. In fact, the flight to Newark was late, so Revell missed his connection. He booked himself on the next flight, but the airline changed those plans. He was supposed to get on a bus, but his luggage didn’t get on the bus with him. He found the luggage, but the bus had left, so he had to stay overnight at the hotel, with his luggage.

Aha! That’s where the crime came in. The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act protected Revell on the plane, and would have protected him on the bus. But the moment the luggage came into his hands or otherwise became “readily accessible” to him outside a car — here, when he got the luggage to go to the hotel, but it would have also happened if he had gotten the luggage to put it into the trunk of a rental car — he violated New Jersey law, which requires a permit to possess a handgun (and which bans the hollow-point ammunition that Revell also had in a separate locked container in his luggage). Revell was arrested when he checked in with the luggage at Newark Airport, and said (as he was supposed to) that he had an unloaded gun in a locked case in his luggage; he then spent four days in jail until he was released on bail. Eventually the New Jersey prosecutor dropped the charges against him, but Revell didn’t get the gun and his other property back until almost three years later.

When it comes to gun laws, the enthusiast acts at his peril.

So, what are you supposed to do?

Stranded gun owners like Revell have the option of going to law enforcement representatives at an airport or to airport personnel before they retrieve their luggage. The careful owner will do so and explain his situation, requesting that his firearm and ammunition be held for him overnight

I don’t think had I been stuck in Cali that that thought would have crossed my mind.

Only applies to personal vehicles, apparently.

5 Responses to “FOPA and Air Travel”

  1. JKB Says:

    It was months ago that I read a post about how to travel with checked weapons. The basic advice is under no circumstances should you take possession of your luggage from the airline while in hostile territory. Leave it checked until you get to a destination in a free area. If you are forced to take possession, do not take possession but rather involve the police to try to find a reasonable solution that does not put you in constructive possession in the hostile areas jurisdiction.

    Even traveling by car, you should not stop overnight in hostile territory unless it is physically impossible to reach a free area in a reasonable travel time. FOPA allows you to transport the weapons but you must move through hostile territory expeditiously with minimal lingering for food and fuel. If you stop, a firearm in the trunk of your car could be considered readily accessible.

    I wonder if the firearm was in a locked case but the keys were not in your possession but overnighted to your destination if it would help you in these situations.

  2. Kristopher Says:

    Re-enactors have a habit of mailing their firearms ahead as general delivery to themselves for just this reason.

    They pick up their package at the post office in the town the event is in.

    If it’s a pistol, you need to use Fedex, and have them hold it as will-call at the distribution facility nearest your destination.

    As long as YOU pick the package up, you are not violating federal law.

  3. ka Says:

    Sad that in this country we refer to certain areas as “hostile” and “free”. To quote Rage, “Land of the free? Whoever told you that was your enemy.”

  4. ATLien Says:

    The best thing to do is to violently overthrow the state governments in question, complete with heads on pikes.

  5. ralph Says:

    Talked to my buddy in California today. It’s pretty bad when you start hoping for an earthquake (a BIG earthquake), just to get rid of some politicians.

    I don’t know why he stays there.