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Kennedy Airport Gun Crimes

As the fifth-busiest airport in North America, John F. Kennedy International serves over 56 million passengers annually, with thousands flocking to the Queens-based airport each day to fly around the world. Many travelers carry hand guns for personal protection, not knowing the laws and consequences that await them if they carry weapons into an airport undeclared.

If you’ve been arrested for toting an illegal firearm into Kennedy Airport, Tilem & Associates, PC wants to defend you. Contact our firm today at (877) 377-8666 to discuss your options and learn more about the airport gun cases we’ve dealt with in our 25 years of service.

Although the TSA allows lawful gun owners to travel with their weapons, there are restrictions that apply. A simple misunderstanding of TSA rules could put good people in bad situations.

New York Gun Laws

We’ve seen it unfold before. Individuals declare guns which are legally owned, with their home state’s conceal carry permits ready to show. They’ve locked their gun in an approved box and checked it at the local airport, just as the airline instructed. Once they’ve boarded the plane, vacationed, and finally return to JFK, a TSA agent calls law enforcement upon their return. They’re placed under arrest, spending one or several days behind bars before their formal arraignment.

What happened to a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed, as stated in New York Civil Rights Law Art. II, § 4?

According to New York Penal Law sections 265 and 400, citizens must have specific permits to carry weapons legally. Many New York counties issue gun permits on a “may issue” basis, meaning permit issuance isn’t guaranteed. Those who fly into JFK Airport from states where conceal carry is permitted, the laws of New York take precedence.

This means confiscated weapons will be destroyed; lawful gun owners do not receive their weapons back in New York.

TSA Laws You Should Know About

As an agency of the U.S. government, the Transportation Security Administration keeps passengers secure by making sure nothing hazardous gets placed on an airplane. According to their rules, weapons are permitted if:

  • The weapon owner declares their gun prior to entering the screening area;
  • The gun’s clip is removed, no bullets are chambered, and the gun is stored in a hard-sided case;
  • No firing pins, guns, ammunition or similar are stowed away in carry-on luggage; and
  • The gun owner complies with local, state and federal laws regarding concealed weapons.

We underscore “local and state” because it’s this rule that confuses many innocent gun owners. If New York laws claim you cannot have certain weapon types, it doesn’t matter what TSA says; state laws are given precedence over federal regulations.

Penalties for Violating NY Airport Gun Laws

If you’re an innocent Idahoan traveling to Queens via JFK Airport, and have brought your legal Sig Sauer, you should know the penalties for NY gun crimes ahead of time:

  • Class A misdemeanor for possession of a firearm without a permit.
  • Class D felony for subsequent possession charges, along with possession of silencers, assault weapons (Tommy guns, et al.), modified weapons, cloaked guns or those weapons with large ammunition capacities. Having three or more regular firearms would also be charged under this felony class.
  • Class C Felony for possessing loaded firearms, five or more guns at once, or machine guns.
  • Class B felony if you’re in possession of ten or more firearms simultaneously.

If convicted at the Class C level, there’s a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years in prison. Additionally, the TSA can fine citizens who violate airport gun laws up to $11,000, and the federal government can bring charges against you as well.

Defenses to Airport Gun Law Violations

The most widely used defense is lack of understanding of New York gun laws. This defense may weaken if the TSA and your airline can show you were properly informed of New York laws, or were given prior instructions to read up on NY gun laws.

Other defenses to airport gun crimes include:

  • Defendant was wrongly identified;
  • Luggage containing the firearm did not belong to defendant;
  • The item identified as an illegal weapon was a toy;
  • The defendant did not interfere with airport security while possessing a weapon; or
  • Due process violations.

Tilem & Associates, PC can raise these and many other defenses if you’ve been formally charged with a gun crime at JFK Airport. Even though many airport gun crimes are pled down to lesser charges, many offenders have never committed a crime. They’re lawful gun owners from different states, passing through New York or vacationing here.

We’ll Fight Your Kennedy Airport Gun Charges

Many legal gun owners are unaware of New York laws, or have been misled into thinking certain laws apply that actually don’t exist. We’ve helped people in those situations, and can help you, too, if you’ve been arrested upon your return to JFK Airport with a legal weapon.

Contact our office today for your free initial consultation at (877) 377-8666. Let our firm provide the level of representation your airport gun charges deserve, and help you put this awful incident behind you for good.