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Sep 12, 2023
Carrying Guns in the Airport: What to Do if Caught at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport holds the dubious distinction of confiscating more guns at its security checkpoints than any other airport in the world. Many travelers, unaware of Georgia's specific gun laws related to travel and airports, find themselves in a precarious legal situation.If you're one of those people who has been caught carrying a gun at Hartsfield-Jackson, it's crucial to know the steps to take to protect your rights.
This article aims to guide you through the process, emphasizing the importance of understanding Georgia gun laws related to travel, concealed carry regulations in Georgia, and when to consult a gun rights attorney in Georgia.This article focuses on guns found in carry-on baggage. If you have questions about guns found in checked baggage, please contact us.
Carrying A Gun Into An Airport
What happens if you are discovered to have a gun in your carry-on baggage depends on whether or not you have a weapons carry license. While Georgia is now a permitless carry (sometimes called “constitutional carry”) state, commercial airports are one place where the law makes a distinction between having a license and not having a license.
Carrying A Gun Into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Without A License
If you do not have a weapons carry license, you probably will be arrested by the Atlanta Police Department and taken to the Clayton County jail. You will miss your flight and you may be held overnight before a bond is set. Assuming you are able to post bond, you will be released and given a later court date. First time offenders often are given a “pre-trial diversion” option, which is a means of disposing of your case without a conviction. You probably will have to forfeit your gun and pay a fine or fees, as well as attending classes. If you successfully complete pre-trial diversion, the case is dismissed.
Carrying A Gun Into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport With A License
If you do have a weapons carry license, you will not be arrested by the Atlanta Police Department because you have not committed an offense that is arrestable by state or local authorities. Instead, the FBI likely will give you a citation or order to appear in federal court.This may sound daunting, but it is not as bad as it sounds. When you appear in federal court, you generally will be offered the opportunity to dispose of your case by payment of an “administrative fee” of $125. If you agree to this, a formal case is never opened and no criminal record is created. If your gun was confiscated at the airport, it generally will be returned to you.
First Time Offenders
If you are a first time offender, you probably can navigate this process without a lawyer. If you are not comfortable doing so, we would be happy to represent you at the federal court appearance. Another aspect of the federal citation route is that you frequently will not miss your flight, or will be able to be rebooked on the next flight. Whether you have a weapons carry license or not, if you have Precheck, Clear, Global Entry, or Nexus, your status in those programs is likely to be revoked.
Please note that the above is a description of the criminal process. There is a parallel civil process. Usually you will receive, sometimes many months later, a proposed civil forfeiture from the TSA. The amount will vary depending on what kind of weapon you had and whether or not it was loaded, but it will be several thousand dollars. The TSA will offer to settle for ½ the amount if you agree to the forfeiture and pay it promptly. The amount is subject to negotiation. If you do not agree to pay the forfeiture, the TSA can seek imposition of a forfeiture in court, which means the TSA would sue you to try to collect a forfeiture from you.
Navigating the legal complexities of carrying a gun in an airport, especially one as busy as Hartsfield-Jackson, can be daunting. Understanding Georgia gun laws related to travel and concealed carry in Georgia is crucial for anyone who owns or carries a firearm.
If you find yourself caught in such a situation, it's imperative to consult a gun rights attorney in Georgia as soon as possible. Contact John Monroe Law today to get specialized legal advice tailored to your situation. We can guide you through the legal process, helping to protect your rights and minimize the impact on your life.
Don't leave your freedom to chance; contact us now for expert legal counsel.