MT gun owner illegally detained while traveling with firearms


December 30, 2003, 07:05 PM
:fire: This will really get your blood boiling :fire:

Be sure to read this related article: (friend relates her experience with the FBI over the same matter.)

Airport follies
A few of you on LJ know about this, and were asked to keep quiet about it until it was resolved. For the most part, it was resolved yesterday and since the 'hostages' have been released, I can comment on it without too much worry of blowback. So, clicky-clicky for the amazing and expensive story about how, after Shooty Goodness in September, I was arrested by the Dulles Airport cops, interviewed by ATF, FBI and Fatherland Security, handcuffed in front of the crowd at the check-in counter, had $3000 of guns confiscated and was accused of being a Neo-Nazi and white supremacist.

Now, you may not be aware of it, but it is legal to take guns onto airplanes. Really. The requirement is that they be in a gun case, unloaded, locked, and declared to the check-in clerk, who will give you a form to sign, as checked baggage. I've been travelling with guns this way for over fifteen years. Never a problem. Until Sept.

One gun case contained four pistols and an AR-15. One smaller case contained a .38 revolver. I got up to the counter and said the exact same phrase I've uttered every time I fly - "I need to declare unloaded firearms". The clerk gives me a bright orange tag to fill out (the declaration tag) stating that I certify the guns are unloaded. Since I have two gun cases I tell him "I need two". He gives me another tag. I dutifully fill out both and put one in each gun case, as required by law.

SO I lock up the cases, hand em over to the clerk and they go on the conveyor belt to the TSA goons and their x-ray machine. I go through security to my gate and wait for the plane. Fifteen minutes before my plane boards I get paged and asked to return to the check-in counter. I get there to no less than four airport cops, three guys in suits with walkietalkies and three or four white shirted TSA goons. I am told that the x-ray machines picked up a cylindrical metal object in my luggage and that they'd like the keys so they can open it and check it out. (The cylindrical object was my telescoping ASP baton.) They open the gun case and things get busy. All sorts of people are called over. After fifteen minutes I am handcuffed "For my protection" in front of the assembled crowd waiting to check in for their flight. I stand there for about a half hour as they try to determine if theres something wrong. I turn to one of the cops and say "Lemme guess, if I'm innocent then I have nothing to fear, right?" She agrees. Im sure she's being fitted for jackboots as we speak.

Now one goon comes up to me and says im under arrest for improperly checking in my guns. ***? Theres a declaration tag sitting right there in the case with the guns. My legal obligation is met! They take me outside and remove my glasses, shoes, belt and stand me against the wall and search me. Outside the terminal are three marked cars, a cop with a dog, and a couple supervisors.

Still handcuffed, Im put in the back seat of a car for about a half hour as my fate is discussed. Finally im driven to the cop shop and put into a cage, still handcuffed. After about an hour or so, a couple suits from the FBI, ATF and Fatherland Security show up and take me to a room to ask questions. Having gone through my luggage, they found a t-shirt with what could have been considered a Nazi slogan on it ("Das Reich"..the shirt was left at kitiara's by one of the Shooty Goodness people when he changed clothes to go to dinner. Then there were the books...Small Arms Infantry Tactics, Counter Insurgency manual, etc, etc. Are you in the militia? Are you a white supremacist? (Asked by the Aryan, blonde haired, blue eyed FBI dweeb) Why do you have all these guns? Where did you get them? Do you own other guns? Do you own body armour? If you knew someone was going to commit a crime you'd tell us right? Etc, etc.

Back into the cage, and handcuffs, for another few hours. Finally, around 10pm, the let me go after taking all my guns and other weapons. Im charged with 'bringing a dangerous article onto airport property'. Huh? The guns were all in a locked case, as required.

Hire a lawyer. $900 "Start to finish" is the quoted price. Apparently 'start to finish' doesnt include $500 to file a motion to get a Bill Of Particulars from the prosecutor, who was dragging her feet in getting that info to us. After all, how the hell can I defend myself if I dont know what they have a problem with? There were five guns in one gun case and they said the AR-15 was the dangerous article. Why they picked that one out of the five in there seems wierd...after all, if there were five guns in there wouldnt each one be just as dangerous? (And, no, there was no 'assault weapon' ban that affected any of was a post-ban gun). So the court date was yesterday. I show up in my Going To Court suit. Docket lists 49 cases... Lawyer arrives. So we get into the courtroom. Judge asks if tehres any changes. Prosecutorgirl says the state of VA chooses not to pursue charges at this time for lack of evidence. Im free to go. Great. Now where the hell are my guns? I was thinking my toys had been turned over to the tender mercies of ATF for 'testing'. I was told I could go to the airport copshop and get them back. So, later that afternoon, kitiara (who was very supportive, very outraged, and very understanding of the whole mess) gave me a ride to the copshop. I went in , showed idea, and me and the proprty clerk inventoried my toys...AR-15, Browning P35, 1911 45, S&W .38, S&W .357, Glock 9mm, butterfly knife, etc, etc. The property clerk and the other cop did NOT seem happy to let me have my toys back. Probably the kind of cops that think only they should have guns. So I sign the forms and get my toys back. The property clerk walks them to the parking lot and puts them in the truck. He then stands there as if expecting me to thank him for carrying them..fat chance. We leave.

Now, how to get them back to MT? Well, feeling boldened and a little bit confident that the airport cops realize they might have screwed the pooch, I figure I'll check 'em in the same as last time but paying much, much more attention to every step. I filled out a declaration tag for EACH gun (overkill, yes) and followed them as they x-rayed the bags. No problems. I didnt relax until the plane was actually airborne and I didnt fully feel safe until I was on the ground in Missoula with my cases in hand.

$1500 in lawyer fees, $500 in airfare, another $1000 in lost time from work.

And it isnt over. TSA wants to fine me $1200 for failure to declare firearms...but if I dont contest it, they'll cut the fine to $600. I asked the attorney if he thought that maybe the TSA will see that VA didnt have a leg to stand on and maybe wash their hands of it too. We'll see.

The reason I havent said anything was because until I got my guns back, I didnt want to make any waves. If some well-meaning person started asking questions or rallying public opinion or something like that it would have , in my opinion, just made things more difficult. But, now that my guns are safely with me, it doesnt have to be a secret anymore.

Needless to say, I wasnt a big fan of airport security before and Im far less a fan of them now.

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Standing Wolf
December 30, 2003, 07:50 PM
Saddam Hussein is in custody. Norman Mineta isn't.

December 30, 2003, 08:20 PM
I don't mean to be snarky, since this is a very important issue. But this thread's a dupe.

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