Can I Get Arrested for Bringing a Concealed Firearm to the Airport?

February 20, 2023 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

Florida is a gun-friendly state, meaning it’s not difficult for those who wish to own a gun to do so. By obtaining a concealed carry license, citizens who meet the qualifying characteristics have the right to carry weapons on their person. However, there are certain places in which even a concealed carry license cannot protect you from civil citations, criminal offenses, or both. One of these locations is the airport.

When flying domestically or internationally, every person must first go through the TSA security check. These checks ensure that no dangerous or prohibited item goes through to the aircraft. Despite having a concealed carry license, if you bring a gun into the airport in Florida that is not properly checked and packaged, it could result in both civil and criminal sanctions.

This article will provide information on Florida’s concealed carry license, along with TSA data detection.

License to Carry a Concealed Weapon or Firearm in Florida

In Florida, a person who wishes to own and carry a firearm must first receive a license to do so. Under Florida Statute Section 790.06, a person can receive a license for a concealed carry through the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A concealed weapon is defined by any of the following:

  • Handgun
  • Electronic weapon or device
  • Tear gas gun
  • Knife
  • Billie

Once a person obtains such a license, they can legally carry any of the above weapons for the validity of seven years in the state from the day of issuance. However, it is important to note that the person must carry the license and a valid identification that matches the license at all times when the person is in possession of the concealed weapon.

Despite obtaining a concealed carry license, there are still places in which a person cannot openly carry a handgun or other concealed weapon. Under Florida Statute Section 790.06(12)(a), a person cannot carry a concealed weapon into any of the following locations:

  • Any place of nuisance defined in section 05;
  • Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station;
  • Any detention facility, prison, or jail;
  • Any courthouse;
  • Any courtroom;
  • Any polling station;
  • Any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district;
  • Any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof;
  • Any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms;
  • Any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building;
  • Any career center;
  • Any licensed establishment to dispense alcoholic beverages;
  • Any college or university;
  • Inside the passenger terminal area of any airport, provided that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal, which firearm encased for shipment for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft; or
  • Any place where carrying a firearm is prohibited by federal law.

Florida law states that any person who fails to comply with the above regulations can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

How to Travel with a Firearm

That being said, the only way a person can travel by plane with a firearm is by properly packing and checking the item through the airline. The firearm should be locked, unloaded, and inside a case.

In addition to the possible criminal consequences, TSA imposes a civil penalty for those who bring firearms into the airport that are not properly checked. According to TSA’s page on security violations by individuals for prohibited items discovered at a checkpoint, the recommended civil fines are as follows:

  • Loaded firearms (or unloaded with accessible ammunition) – Civil fines between $3,000 to $10,700 or $10,700 to $14,950 for a repeat offense. This also includes a criminal referral.
  • Unloaded firearms – Civil fines between $1,500 to $5,370 plus a criminal referral.
  • BB, pellet, and compressed-air guns – Civil fines between $390 to $2,250
  • Silencers, mufflers, frames, and/or receivers – Civil fines between $740 to $1,490 plus a criminal referral.

TSA Data on Firearm Detection at Airports

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation systems to ensure the safety and freedom of those moving through airports. In every airport in the United States, passengers traveling on flights are required to place their baggage through a scanner to review all of their items. TSA helps to prevent any unwanted or prohibited items from entering the airport or an aircraft.

According to TSA’s website, the agency detected a total of 3,257 firearms in carry-on bags in 2021 in airports across the United States. In Florida, there were 220 firearms detected in the state’s airports. Out of all the states, Florida ranked the third highest among those who have had firearms detected in airports.

TSA takes these matters extremely seriously. Any person who is caught bringing prohibited items in their carry-on bag—such as a firearm or other weapon—can face fines, potential arrest, and imprisonment. The following is a list of TSA’s prohibited items from a carry-on bag:

  • Aerosol Insecticide
  • Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof
  • Ammunition
  • Axes or hatchets
  • Baseball bat
  • BB guns
  • Blasting caps
  • Bows and arrows
  • Box cutters
  • Brass knuckles
  • Butane
  • Cap guns
  • Compressed air gun
  • Crowbar
  • Firearms
  • Flare gun
  • Gun lighter
  • Gun powder
  • Gun or firearm parts
  • Pellet gun
  • Realistic replica of firearms
  • Rifle
  • Rocket launcher
  • Starter pistol

To view the entire list of items prohibited by TSA, please review their page here.

According to TSA’s website, there was a record number of intercepted firearms brought by passengers into airport security checkpoints during 2022. From December 16th, 2022, there were 6,301 firearms stopped through the checkpoint. Out of those, 88% of the firearms were loaded. There were over 6,500 firearms in carry-on bags that were intercepted by TSA in 2022, which was a 10% increase from 2021.

As a way to prevent and reduce the firearm threat to airports, TSA has increased its civil penalty to a maximum of $14,950 for any person who violates the airport’s firearm regulations.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a firearm violation in the airport or anywhere else in Florida, we recommend reaching out to a defense attorney in your area.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

While Florida is a relatively lenient state when it comes to gun laws and regulations, there are harsh consequences for any person who brings a firearm or other concealed weapon in their carry-on bag at the airport. If TSA discovers a firearm during a security check, the person may be subjected to paying an extremely expensive fine. They may also face criminal charges, which is why it is important to contact a Florida defense attorney.

Pumphrey Law Firm represents clients across the state of Florida for various criminal offenses. If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, contact Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys. We will provide top-quality legal guidance, and do everything we can to get your charges lessened or dismissed completely. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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