Air travel with a firearm?


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ProtoformX
May 24, 2011, 05:25 PM
I've got a story, and a question.

My friend had driven with a friend from CA to NY several years ago (he was helping her move there) and brought his carry weapon because he was not sure what kind of neighborhoods he was going to be driving through on the way there (Florida CCW, and he researched the individual state laws before the trip). The plan was the drive to NY, then fly back to CA.

He was arrested in New York for declaring his unloaded, locked up firearm in his check in bag. They arrested him on the spot, and confiscated his firearm into evidence, never to be seen again. He was released (a few of us had to pool our cash to post bail for him), but they kept his firearm and never gave a clear reason for the arrest.

He had called the airport, and the local police the night before, as well as asked a National Guardsman at the airport before he went to the check in counter to make sure he was following the right procedure. No party gave any idication that there would be any trouble.


Now, onto my question.

I am going on vacation. I will be away from home for three months. I want to bring one of my firearms to plink with at a local range... I have done extensive research, and cannot find any reason why I would be arrested, or why something bad would happen if I brought my firearm locked securely in a hard plastic case in my check-in bag, and declared it.

My family and friends however are extremely nervous about this, and are more or less demanding that I not take it, largely due to the above story involving my friend.

Where do I stand legally on this? What can I say or do to put everyones concerns at ease? And, what the deuce is up with New York? To this day nobody has any real idea why my friend was arrested, and his firearm confiscated.

I am flying from CA to MA, and will be staying in CT if that matters.

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kingpin008
May 24, 2011, 06:06 PM
He had called the airport, and the local police the night before, as well as asked a National Guardsman at the airport before he went to the check in counter to make sure he was following the right procedure. No party gave any idication that there would be any trouble.

Not to sound rude, but none of the above should have been contacted by your friend in regards to his trip. If he was interested in the law regarding such a trip, he should have consulted the law (both federal and state) itself, or, failing that, a lawyer.

People need to understand that police are NOT sources of accurate legal advice. This is not a bash against cops, but they have a very specific job description - being able to dispense legal advice is not part of it. Ditto for Natn'l Guard. I mean seriously - you wouldn't walk up to a soldier waiting for his bags at baggage claim and ask him what NY law says about calling in a noise complaint against your neighbor for having his stereo on at 2a.m., would you?

Ditto with the airlines. All they're going to tell you is what their rules are, and how they relate to TSA regs.

Sorry for the lecture, but it's a common mistake - and as you can see by your friend's adventure it can result in a huge hassle and expense.

NavyLCDR
May 24, 2011, 06:10 PM
Your friend was arrested in NY because his possession of a handgun in New York without a New York permit was illegal in New York.

You will probably be arrested in MA upon checking in at the airport in MA unless you meet MA state law:

http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXX/Chapter140/Section131g

Section 131G. Any person who is not a resident of the commonwealth may carry a pistol or revolver in or through the commonwealth for the purpose of taking part in a pistol or revolver competition or attending any meeting or exhibition of any organized group of firearm collectors or for the purpose of hunting; provided, that such person is a resident of the United States and has a permit or license to carry firearms issued under the laws of any state, district or territory thereof which has licensing requirements which prohibit the issuance of permits or licenses to persons who have been convicted of a felony or who have been convicted of the unlawful use, possession or sale of narcotic or harmful drugs; provided, further, that in the case of a person traveling in or through the commonwealth for the purpose of hunting, he has on his person a hunting or sporting license issued by the commonwealth or by the state of his destination. Police officers and other peace officers of any state, territory or jurisdiction within the United States duly authorized to possess firearms by the laws thereof shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have a permit or license to carry firearms as described in this section.

If you were flying out of a free state on your return trip (about 45 of which come to mind immediately) you would have no issues whatsoever.

And, I agree with Kingpin008, by the way. Don't ask LEO for legal advice.

highlander 5
May 24, 2011, 06:21 PM
If your final stop is Ct why not just send the firearm you plan on taking and send it to a local FFL and do the reverse when you go home. You do not want to be caught with a firearm/oc/mace in Ma it is a felony and the local and state police take a dim veiw of anyone bring in firearms with out a LTC. and forget a non resident LTC. One of the requirments is to come to Ma to be interveiwed for the permit and on there schedule,not yours. Of the six new england states Ma is the worst as far as irearms ownership goes.

NavyLCDR
May 24, 2011, 06:43 PM
If your final stop is Ct why not just send the firearm you plan on taking and send it to a local FFL and do the reverse when you go home.

For one thing... a CT FFL would violate Federal law by transferring any firearm to a California resident.

N003k
May 24, 2011, 06:54 PM
Also, in CT you need a state Pistol Permit to 'purchase' a handgun... Also believe theres restrictions on what one can DO with a handgun in the state without a permit.

highlander 5
May 24, 2011, 07:03 PM
Navy LT I don't know Ct laws,but in his question he states that the firearm is his. Why would he have trouble picking up a firearm that is already his? If CT is a free state what is the problem?

Jim NE
May 24, 2011, 07:17 PM
It's kind of strange to think how much the world has changed. I had a friend who was an FBI agent in the New York office. This was in the late eighties/early 90's. He would sometimes try to impress young ladies on airliners by telling them he was with the FBI, and take out his I.D. and revolver to prove it.

I'm not sure if FBI agents are still allowed to carry guns on planes or not, but I'm guessing the days of impressing girls on a plane by pulling out a gun are over. :)

NavyLCDR
May 24, 2011, 07:57 PM
Navy LT I don't know Ct laws,but in his question he states that the firearm is his. Why would he have trouble picking up a firearm that is already his? If CT is a free state what is the problem?

When an FFL receives a firearm, they must log that firearm into their bound book. When they dispose of that firearm, they must log that firearm out of their bound book. The receipt of the firearm by delivery by mail or common carrier would be considered an "other acquisition." The delivery of the firearm to the final recipient would be considered an "other disposition."

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=44337824e8f2afdcaae3164a8e535863&rgn=div8&view=text&node=27:3.0.1.2.3.8.1.6&idno=27

49 CFR 478.125 (e):

478.125 Record of receipt and disposition.
(e) Firearms receipt and disposition by dealers. Except as provided in 478.124a with respect to alternate records for the receipt and disposition of firearms by dealers, each licensed dealer shall enter into a record each receipt and disposition of firearms. In addition, before commencing or continuing a firearms business, each licensed dealer shall inventory the firearms possessed for such business and shall record same in the record required by this paragraph. The record required by this paragraph shall be maintained in bound form under the format prescribed below. The purchase or other acquisition of a firearm shall, except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, be recorded not later than the close of the next business day following the date of such purchase or acquisition. The record shall show the date of receipt, the name and address or the name and license number of the person from whom received, the name of the manufacturer and importer (if any), the model, serial number, type, and the caliber or gauge of the firearm. The sale or other disposition of a firearm shall be recorded by the licensed dealer not later than 7 days following the date of such transaction. When such disposition is made to a nonlicensee, the firearms transaction record, Form 4473, obtained by the licensed dealer shall be retained, until the transaction is recorded, separate from the licensee's Form 4473 file and be readily available for inspection. When such disposition is made to a licensee, the commercial record of the transaction shall be retained, until the transaction is recorded, separate from other commercial documents maintained by the licensed dealer, and be readily available for inspection. The record shall show the date of the sale or other disposition of each firearm, the name and address of the person to whom the firearm is transferred, or the name and license number of the person to whom transferred if such person is a licensee, or the firearms transaction record, Form 4473, serial number if the licensed dealer transferring the firearm serially numbers the Forms 4473 and files them numerically.

Since the firearm would have to be transferred by the FFL to the recipient on a form 4473, 18 USC 922 (b)(3) would apply, prohibiting the CT FFL from transferring ANY firearm to a California resident. A handgun is prohibited because of the same state rule. A long gun is prohibited because a CT FFL would have no way to comply with California's DROS requirement.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/718/usc_sec_18_00000922----000-.html

18 USC 922 (b)(3):

922. Unlawful acts
(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver—

(3) any firearm to any person who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, does not maintain a place of business in) the State in which the licensee’s place of business is located, except that this paragraph (A) shall not apply to the sale or delivery of any rifle or shotgun to a resident of a State other than a State in which the licensee’s place of business is located if the transferee meets in person with the transferor to accomplish the transfer, and the sale, delivery, and receipt fully comply with the legal conditions of sale in both such States (and any licensed manufacturer, importer or dealer shall be presumed, for purposes of this subparagraph, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have had actual knowledge of the State laws and published ordinances of both States), and (B) shall not apply to the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes;

The only way for the CT FFL to dispose of the firearm received would be to transfer the firearm to another FFL, or to transfer the firearm to a recipient who could legally receive such firearm by completing the form 4473 and be in compliance with all the requirements of 18 USC 922.

The only exception would be if the FFL was returning the firearm to the original owner which they received SOLELY for the purpose of repair or customization:

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr;sid=44337824e8f2afdcaae3164a8e535863;rgn=div5;view=text;node=27%3A3.0.1.2.3;idno=27;cc=ecfr#27:3.0.1.2.3.8.1.4

478.124 Firearms transaction record.
(a) A licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer shall not sell or otherwise dispose, temporarily or permanently, of any firearm to any person, other than another licensee, unless the licensee records the transaction on a firearms transaction record, Form 4473: Provided, That a firearms transaction record, Form 4473, shall not be required to record the disposition made of a firearm delivered to a licensee for the sole purpose of repair or customizing when such firearm or a replacement firearm is returned to the person from whom received.

All of the above is Federal law and the FFL would risk losing his license by not complying.

ProtoformX
May 24, 2011, 10:30 PM
Thanks for the insight, guys. Guess I'll leave my baby home... Better to spend less time at the range if it means spending no time in a MA jail cell.

jon_in_wv
May 24, 2011, 10:35 PM
If your final stop is Ct why not just send the firearm you plan on taking and send it to a local FFL and do the reverse when you go home.

Its only necessary to use an FFL when transferring a firearm to another person, not yourself. You can legally ship a firearm across state lines to your friends house, addressed to yourself. To remain legal I think the package must remain unopened until you arrive to open it.


From the ATF FAQS section:

Q: May a nonlicensee ship firearms interstate for his or her use in hunting or other lawful activity?

Yes. A person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner. Persons other than the owner should not open the package and take possession of the firearm.

swinokur
May 25, 2011, 08:01 AM
DOJ opinion of FOPA protections going to or leaving an airport in NY here:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=554394

Sam1911
May 25, 2011, 08:19 AM
Its only necessary to use an FFL when transferring a firearm to another person, not yourself. ...In fact, if you were to mail a handgun to an FFL in another state, he CAN'T transfer it to you -- only residents of the state where he's located.

jon_in_wv
May 25, 2011, 07:50 PM
Very good point Sam! I forgot that.

bikemutt
May 25, 2011, 07:56 PM
You should still be able to plink; just rent a range gun. Much less expensive than bail + lawyer :scrutiny:

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