If you are planning a fun-filled vacation or just picking up a friend, it is important to know your rights to carry firearms in and around a Texas airport. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that the number of firearms found at airports more than doubled last year. State and federal gun laws are both enforced at the airport, so it is best to know your rights and plan ahead for a lawful trip. At Law Offices of Sam H. Lock, we represent clients charged with all state and federal gun crimes.
Where Am I Allowed to Carry at a Texas Airport?
Under Texas law, you are allowed to open carry a handgun in a belt or shoulder holster or concealed on your person, as long as you are in an unsecured area of the airport. This includes the main airport lobby, pick-up and drop-off areas, parking facilities, and the baggage claim area. Once you attempt to enter a secured area, such as through airport security, federal law applies. If you are planning to fly with a firearm or otherwise enter a secured area, you should follow the following steps to avoid a serious fine and/or jail time. Firearms, both handguns and long guns, ammunition, and all firearm parts except for scopes must be declared at the luggage counter. They must be unloaded and secured in a locked, hard-sided container and placed in checked luggage. This includes replica firearms, including replicas that are toys. Only rifle scopes are allowed in carry-on baggage. To be safe, check with TSA Guidelines before packing.
What Are the Consequences?
If you are caught trying to enter a secured area with a firearm, you will be stopped by the TSA and turned over to local law enforcement officials for arrest and prosecution. If you are not a licensed gun owner, you will be arrested. If you have a License to Carry (LTC), you will not be arrested and you will likely be allowed to leave the airport, but may still face substantial federal fines. If you do enter a secured area, you risk federal imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $250,000. Any individual who is facing state or federal charges related to gun laws at the airport needs strong representation. A conviction in state or federal court of unlawful possession will have serious consequences.