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View Full Version : delayed flight with checked handgun = overnight stay in NJ = jail


D.R.E.
03-30-2010, 6:26 PM
Excellent point on Volokh: if your flight is delayed overnight and you are travelling w/ a handgun/ammo be very careful about leaving airport, etc.

http://volokh.com/2010/03/30/unexpected-flight-delay-hotel-stay-criminal-prosecution-for-gun-possession/





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.

Revell sued, and lost; the Third Circuit concluded that once he took the luggage in hand in New Jersey, it became “readily accessible,” and the FOPA immunity was lost. And this is indeed a sensible reading of the statutory text:

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.



So what do you if this happens to you?


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.[18]


[Footnote 18:] Of course, this suggestion leaves unanswered the question of what the gun owner should do if the law enforcement officers decline to assist him. It may be hoped, however, that officers will not compound a blameless owner’s problems in that way.

Hope does spring eternal, but I suspect that airport police and airport staff aren’t going to be willing to hold people’s luggage for them overnight, especially when it contains a gun. And of course the airport police or staff would then have to personally check in the luggage for the owner, since the owner can’t take it in hand without losing the FOPA immunity.

So watch out when you travel with your gun in checked luggage. If your flight gets routed to a different city, or you have to stay overnight at one of the stops, you could be arrested. Or if you drive across country but your car breaks down, and you need to move the luggage to another car, you could likewise be violating the law (though you’d be less likely to be caught, since you have no obligation declare your gun when you switch cars the way you do when you get on a plane). FOPA gives you a good deal of protection on your travels — but, as Mr. Revell learned, not complete protection.

Big Jake
03-30-2010, 6:29 PM
Scary stuff!

HondaMasterTech
03-30-2010, 7:17 PM
Ridiculous.

todd2968
03-30-2010, 7:25 PM
What ever happened to intent. What was he supposed to do?

The Director
03-30-2010, 7:31 PM
How did they even find out about the gun is my question.

FastFinger
03-30-2010, 7:33 PM
What ever happened to intent. What was he supposed to do?

Maybe that's why charges were dropped?

Although since he was leaving was actively trying to leave Dodge when the guns were noted you'd think that the LEO would cut him some slack. I guess good judgment isn't part of the job description there.

pointedstick
03-30-2010, 7:34 PM
C'mon, laws like this are for our own good! They cut down on criminals! You know, the felon-who-decides-to-otherwise-lawfully-declare-his-firearm-but-is-still-planning-murder-despite-outwardly-attempting-to-follow-the-law types! :p

D.R.E.
03-30-2010, 7:41 PM
Maybe that's why charges were dropped?

Although since he was leaving was actively trying to leave Dodge when the guns were noted you'd think that the LEO would cut him some slack. I guess good judgment isn't part of the job description there.

Four days in jail seems a pretty stiff sentence given there was no trial...

Mssr. Eleganté
03-30-2010, 8:04 PM
How did they even find out about the gun is my question.

He told them he had a gun.

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

loather
03-30-2010, 8:11 PM
This kind of crap is despicable and deplorable. The people writing these asinine laws need to have their heads examined.

Shotgun Man
03-30-2010, 8:18 PM
I honestly think the government drinks champagne and cheers after incidents like this.

They self-indulge in their invidiousness.

bodger
03-30-2010, 8:25 PM
Think of all the children that were protected during this man's four day incarceration.
It's for the children. :rolleyes:

Window_Seat
03-30-2010, 8:38 PM
The way we learn from this is by not flying airlines that go through those TWNs.

Erik.

anthonyca
03-30-2010, 9:13 PM
The way we learn from this is by not flying airlines that go through those TWNs.

Erik.

What about a fog out or other emergency? It sounds like he just had one of those "what if" scenarios happen to him. Insane.

fleegman
03-30-2010, 9:31 PM
Sometimes I think you have to be a chump to obey the law.

GuyW
03-30-2010, 10:43 PM
New Jersey sucks even worse than I thought. What an armpit....
.

CCWFacts
03-30-2010, 10:44 PM
Every once in a while people will pop into this forum and ask "can I bring ..." traveling through California. Every time someone posts, "sure, the FOPA protects you". Every time someone says that, I respond saying that I think that is extremely bad advice and to do so is asking for disaster. Every time I do that, other people chew me out for trying to tell someone not to exercise his rights by doing something legal. They say, "FOPA protects it. Why are you trying to tell that person he shouldn't exercise his right to bear arms? "

I always say, do not rely on FOPA for any kind of ground travel. The only time to rely on it is for air travel, and this case shows that even with air travel there is a risk. I have repeatedly brought up issues about what if your flight is stuck and you have to spend the night somewhere, what happens then? Unfortunately this case shows that I wasn't being a Chicken Little. It's a real concern.

I do fly with handguns almost all the time, and I am aware that if my flight to Dulles got diverted to Newark for some reason, I might have a problem. But I'm aware of the risk and would never rely on FOPA for ground travel, and would never transport a handgun if my flight has a scheduled stop in NJ etc.

By the way, the valiant Michael Moore's bodyguard was arrested in JFK (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,144921,00.html) a few years ago. Never mind the FOPA, do not transport a handgun if you think there's any reasonable chance of a stop-over in NY / NJ / etc, and certainly never rely on FOPA for anything other than travel by air.

GuyW
03-30-2010, 10:47 PM
Mmmm, I wonder if there is a good civil suit against the airline for putting this guy in harm's way...

.

Gio
03-30-2010, 10:54 PM
Bummer, this type of thing should not be happening. Meanwhile a lot of criminal in NJ never get caught with their illegal firearms :(

-Gio

fairfaxjim
03-30-2010, 11:39 PM
I went to NJ once, many years ago. I would NEVER put myself in a position to end up in NJ ever again in this lifetime.

BTW - do you know why NJ has more toxic waste dumps and CA has more lawyers? NJ got first pick.

sreiter
03-30-2010, 11:56 PM
wait - some thing isnt right. just today i called the nj state police firearms division, they're the ones who are the final say for the DOJ. i told them i was coming to NJ for a month or so and waned to bring my hand gun. i asked if i need a permit, etc. they told me no i didnt. i was good to go.

WTF??????

plus, if he was in the airport checking his gun in, how did the know he didnt have a permit? ticket agents arent in the habit of asking for permits

plus, he said the gun was in a locked container inside his suitcase. which would make the weapon not readily accessible.

the thing i think that got him wasnt the gun, it was the hollowpoints as they are 100% illegal in NJ.

Hunt
03-31-2010, 12:00 AM
we need a gov't agency to study this problem

chsk9
03-31-2010, 12:15 AM
I hate to get "off topic" here, but what about locking his roscoe into one of the airport lockers? It would have remained at the airport, and hopefully, still under the protection of the FOPA. Am I missing something?

Gray Peterson
03-31-2010, 12:32 AM
I hate to get "off topic" here, but what about locking his roscoe into one of the airport lockers? It would have remained at the airport, and hopefully, still under the protection of the FOPA. Am I missing something?

That's not the point. The court is essentially saying that if you take your luggage with gun out of a car vehicle, you are without protection.

If the Thune Amendment had passed 6 years ago, while Bush and the Republicans were still in control, this would NOT have been at issue at all.

CaliforniaCarry
03-31-2010, 2:06 AM
Nationwide CCW reciprocity might be of some help in these edge cases. If NJ was forced to recognize a valid out-of-state CCW, there'd be a lot more options in a case like this.

JDay
03-31-2010, 2:12 AM
WTF, they've been beaten in federal court over this several times. I thought it had stopped. State law has no teeth here since he is protected by the federal peaceable journey law.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00000926---A000-.html

§ 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

Since the flight being delayed/canceled was beyond his control and the FAA requires firearms be in a locked case when flying with them he is fully protected by this law.

Kharn
03-31-2010, 2:56 AM
I hate to get "off topic" here, but what about locking his roscoe into one of the airport lockers? It would have remained at the airport, and hopefully, still under the protection of the FOPA. Am I missing something?They removed all the airport lockers so you can't leave a bomb.

press1280
03-31-2010, 3:23 AM
Part of the wonderful "zero tolerance" NJ gun laws. I guess they wanted him to sleep in the airport?

LHC30
03-31-2010, 7:30 AM
Not sure about other states, but in CA if LE comes into possession of any firearm (evidence or safekeeping) they cannot release it without a clearance letter from DOJ. SO, that may preclude asking the airport PD to hold onto your firearms......

Decoligny
03-31-2010, 7:58 AM
How did they even find out about the gun is my question.

When he was delayed overnight, the airline made him take his checked luggage with him to the hotel. Upon return to the airport, he would then be required to check the firearm again. Not being legally allowed to possess a firearm in NJ, he was quickly arrested.

GrizzlyGuy
03-31-2010, 8:12 AM
From the article:

Revell sued, and lost; the Third Circuit concluded that once he took the luggage in hand in New Jersey, it became “readily accessible,” and the FOPA immunity was lost.

Based on how the court ruled, it sounds like you would also be in legal jeopardy if you simply grabbed your bag off the carousel and walked it over for check-in at another airline (i.e., you didn't even leave the airport terminal). The locked container exemption in 18 USC 926A (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/926A.html) only applies when you are in a vehicle, not when you are on foot:

Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

CCWFacts has the right approach: stay the heck away from cities/states with these kinds of laws, even if you are only intending to travel through them.

ALSystems
03-31-2010, 8:40 AM
When he was delayed overnight, the airline made him take his checked luggage with him to the hotel. Upon return to the airport, he would then be required to check the firearm again. Not being legally allowed to possess a firearm in NJ, he was quickly arrested.
Would it be safer to go to UPS store and mail it to yourself somewhere in an unmarked box?:confused: While this is probably also illegal in NJ, it's probably a better bet than trying to check a firearm at a NJ airport without the NJ permit. Better to avoid certain airports if travelling with guns, but this sort sort of thing might catch almost anyone even if you are a careful type.

Glock22Fan
03-31-2010, 8:42 AM
This incident happened quite some time ago (March 2005), and is well known to many of us on this board, who have consistently advised air travellers to beware of repeating this event.

The news is that the conviction was affirmed on appeal in March of this year, so it is current. Also, the thread appears to be bringing it in front of some fresh eyes and that is always useful.

The moral, of course, is not to transport firearms when there is even a remote possibility that your flight might end up in N.Y./N.J.

Gray Peterson
03-31-2010, 9:33 AM
This incident happened quite some time ago (March 2005), and is well known to many of us on this board, who have consistently advised air travellers to beware of repeating this event.

The news is that the conviction was affirmed on appeal in March of this year, so it is current. Also, the thread appears to be bringing it in front of some fresh eyes and that is always useful.

The moral, of course, is not to transport firearms when there is even a remote possibility that your flight might end up in N.Y./N.J.

Agreed, but we need to turn this into a "Fire Mission" and start pressuring Senator Thune to offer his amendment again to fix this problem.

wash
03-31-2010, 9:52 AM
When I fly with valuables I take a gun so I can lock my checked bag. Usually I take a stripped Glock frame because it's small and light.

When I traveled to PA and drove through NY and NJ the Glock wasn't an option so I had to take a rifle but I didn't know about any AW laws so I took a bolt action instead of a stripped AR lower. It was inconvenient but legal.

Hopefully this situation will be simplified soon.

onikuma
03-31-2010, 10:12 AM
that is.. idiotic..

khw9mm
03-31-2010, 10:16 AM
That's ridiculous!! Make me worried if I were ever to travel with firearms checked-in. Might as well drive....

CCWFacts
03-31-2010, 11:00 AM
Agreed, but we need to turn this into a "Fire Mission" and start pressuring Senator Thune to offer his amendment again to fix this problem.

Yes. The Thune Amend. came within a couple of votes of passing the senate last time he put it in there. I expect it to pass fairly easily after November. I would never have thought so a year ago, but I think we may get national CCW reciprocity from Congress sometime in the next session.

gravedigger
03-31-2010, 11:27 AM
This kind of crap is despicable and deplorable. The people writing these asinine laws need to have their heads examined

Well, they should have SOMETHING done to their heads. I am not certain that "examined" is the correct choice.

SteveH
03-31-2010, 11:36 AM
Such is the reason i avoid travelling through Denver, Chicago, New Jersey an New York when travelling with assault weapons/handguns/ect.

CCWFacts
03-31-2010, 11:48 AM
This guy is very very lucky that the prosecutor dropped charges. He got off easy: four days in jail, loss of his gun.

This whole incident proves that there is no crime in New Jersey. Obviously police and prosecutors there have solved all the real crime in the state, which is why they have time to allocate resources to an issue like this. They invested a lot in the original arrest, the four days in jail, and then fighting to keep his gun "off the street" (or "out of the luggage" in this case) all the way up through appeals. It must be wonderful to be in a place where there is so little crime that cops and prosecutors have time to spend on issues like this!

loather
03-31-2010, 11:58 AM
That's ridiculous!! Make me worried if I were ever to travel with firearms checked-in. Might as well drive....

Flying commercially has become such a royal pain in the *** now anyways. So much so that I'd rather drive instead of fly whenever possible. I must be on some list or something, because every time I fly alone I get searched. *every* *single* *time*. It's infuriating, embarrassing, and downright wrong.

We *really* need to relax the security theater at the airports. It's not helping anything or anyone.

loather
03-31-2010, 12:01 PM
It must be wonderful to be in a place where there is so little crime that cops and prosecutors have time to spend on issues like this!

Tell that to the residents of Trenton.

Pixs
03-31-2010, 12:41 PM
Hi Folks,

I'm not a lawyer but I have read the laws pertaining to HP ammo and hand guns. I've also gone a few rounds with The NJ State Police Information Officer. First of all he didn't know the law and gave misleading information. If you dig into it, there is something wrong here, my guess that the appeals court erred in its ruling.

My advice is stay out of NJ there is nothing of value there. Corruption is rampant; the right palm didn't get greased here.

I have the misfortune to be considered a duel citizen of CA and NJ, not by my choice, anybody want to buy a house in NJ cheep?

Best wishes,

Pixs :TFH:

Decoligny
03-31-2010, 1:24 PM
From the article:



Based on how the court ruled, it sounds like you would also be in legal jeopardy if you simply grabbed your bag off the carousel and walked it over for check-in at another airline (i.e., you didn't even leave the airport terminal). The locked container exemption in 18 USC 926A (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/926A.html) only applies when you are in a vehicle, not when you are on foot:



CCWFacts has the right approach: stay the heck away from cities/states with these kinds of laws, even if you are only intending to travel through them.

How about when your direct flight from point A to point B suddenly loses hydraulic pressure and diverts to the nearest airport and that just happens to be Bradyville International? They have to put you on the next available flight to point B, but that's not till tomorrow, so you get stuck with your bags and your guns.

If you happen to get stuck in NJ or NYC in such a situation, I suggest you grab the nearest rental car and drive to a gun friendly state and continue on from there.