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Image courtesy Wikipedia

Airports can be minefields for CCW holders. State laws vary widely even in ‘free’ states, and the blue-gloved TSA fondlers are always waiting at the end of the security queue. Georgia is a state which specifically allows CCW in the non-secured portion of its airports, and for many Georgians this blessing has proven to be decidedly mixed . . .

Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport leads the nation in firearms seizures, with 111 guns being illegally brought through the security checkpoint in 2013. This number is way higher than the runners-up: Miami had only 24, and LAX had only 19.

The weight of a gun on your hip and a license in your wallet quickly becomes second-nature to most CCW holders, and it’s not hard to (temporarily) forget you’re still carrying when you’re rushing to catch a plane. Even lawmakers forget sometimes: former Georgia house speaker Terry Coleman was arrested last year after he forgot a handgun in his briefcase at the TSA checkpoint.

The Georgia legislature is considering a bill which would give a break to CCW holders who suddenly remember that they’re carrying and voluntarily leave the screening line. No arrest, no seizure, no citation.

We hate all forms of ‘zero tolerance’ malum prohibitum laws here at TTAG, and this Georgia proposal sounds like a step forward for common sense. Gun-grabbers and TSA crotch-grabbers both oppose this bill, of course, because airport confiscations and arrests are just another incremental way to separate more Americans from their Second Amendment liberties.

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  1. I am always paranoid that the sniffer machines are going to smell some residual chemicals from going to the range or reloading. Although my local airport got rid of their people sniffer, I am pretty sure they still run luggage through one.

    • On my last trip, my rifle was in the approved container. It had been at the range less than 24 hours earlier. I thought for sure when he swabbed the case it would set off the detector.
      Nope. The guy explained the the machine sniffs for other chemicals.

    • My girlfriend was detained while the TSA goons rubbed q-tips all over her coat because they had allegedly detected “trace elements of explosives” on her. Our best guess was she had powder residue from my reloading room which is of course covered in “trace elements of explosives”. They did eventually let her board the plane. True story.

      • I got that one beat. My wife uses an insulin pump for diabetes and rarely shoots (I’m working on it). I don’t have any reloading equipment at the time, nor any powder or components and I don’t work with explosives in any way. Because of the pump she can’t use the nudie scanner and so requested a manual check. They TSA guy swabbed her pump and claimed to get traces of nitr0glycerin. The only thing we can figure is that her lotion has glycerin and somehow that got contaminated in such a way as to give a false positive.

      • The airport in Lawton, Oklahoma could never use one of those sniffers. Lawton is downwind of fort Sill, home of the Field Artillery. The entire city is covered in decades worth of trace elements of explosives.

  2. I get nervous carrying a tube of toothpaste into an airport… a forgotten box of ammo or a spare mag in my bag, maybe, but I just can’t comprehend making it into security with my CCW.

  3. “The weight of a gun on your hip and a license in your wallet quickly becomes second-nature to most CCW holders, and it’s not hard to (temporarily) forget you’re still carrying when you’re rushing to catch a plane.”

    I’m calling this BS. If you are that unaware of your weapon, you really need to do some thinking about whether you should carry one at all.

    OTH I can understand someone with a pistol in a briefcase or backpack overlooking it when in a rush. So folks who carry need to actively develop the habit of allowing an extra minute, taking a deep breath and thinking about what your are bringing along, before you leave home.

    John Davies
    Spokane WA USA

    • I have been carrying concealed off and on for over forty years and in that time I have occasionally removed my EDC for various reasons and secured it in the car, then later forgotten to retrieve it for awhile, but I can’t recall a single time when I have “forgotten” that I actually had a pistol on my person.

      Since there are some very specific places everywhere you go that prohibit firearms, even with a CCW, it seems like IGOTD material to go into those places without remembering that you are armed. This does not apply to general Gun Free Zone areas, just your “officially restricted” sites.

      In Washington it is legal to carry outside the secure areas of the airport(s). If you are just seeing someone off, this makes perfect sense. If you are going to the airport with the intention of getting on a plane how dense do you have to be to not know where your pistol is?

    • I think what he means is that you don’t consciously think about it. I don’t think about mine, and I’ve only been carrying for three years. My assumption if I’m out of the house is that I have it, but I don’t think about it. I notice it when it bumps a chair at a restaurant or something, and I’m pretty sure I’d never forget I had it on if I was headed into an airport (because I don’t go to the airport that often), but I routinely “forget I have it on.”

      • Exactly, I never forget I am carrying. But, sometimes I forget that some other people have an irrational psychotic reaction about such normal things.

    • I’m calling BS on your BS call. It’s not so much that you’re not aware that you’re carrying, it’s that you forget that some places have pointless restrictions. Are you going to claim you’re the one person in America who hasn’t sacrificed at least one, if not several, tiny Swiss Army knives to the TSA? If you say yes, I call BS on you again.

      In addition, it’s the inconsistency – in Kentucky also, you can go into the airport carrying, just not through security. You can drive to the Post Office, even get out of the car, but you can’t go in. You can carry in church, but not if its got a parish school attached. IMO, if you’re always carrying, sunup to sundown, you can forget. It should be a no-harm, no-foul if you bust yourself and walk away before actually violating the rules.

  4. I would think having to turn around, figure out what to do with your gun (when was the last time you saw a public-use locker at an airport?), and try to get back through the line without missing your flight would be enough of a punishment for a first-time offender.

    And a really good reminder to not do it again…

    • Public-use lockers! I remember those in bus stations; it seems eons ago.

      And those mirror-finish airport floors REALLY creep me out, but I haven’t been in an airport since April of 2006, and won’t go in one again, until the Toilet Safety Administration is gone forever.

    • I have no specific data on this point, since I do not fly frequently, but it would seem logical after 9-11 that the threat of IEDs in public-use lockers at airports and other terminal would be something to fret about.

      I do know that bags of any sort left unattended in these places get security attention in pretty short order. Placing an explosive device or even a cache of weapons in a locker out of sight would be a problem security-wise.

  5. “voluntarily leave the screening line”

    Is this not allowed now? Is there some sort of policy that once-you’re-in-line-you-must-be-processed kind of thing?

    • I’m not sure. In Texas, the law reads that you’re committing a crime if you carry a firearm “in” or “into” the secured portion of a public airport. That “into” always sounded to me like meaning while in line and approaching the boundary, as in being in the process of carrying into the secured area.

      I think the whole thing is nonsense and you should be able to carry aboard in your carry-on luggage. That said, the law is the law and unless you’re making a statement, then you’re just being careless by carrying in or into the secured area. Not much sympathy here.

    • Yes. I don’t know if it’s an actual law or just a TSA “regulation”, but once you begin the screening process you’re not allowed to stop the process.

      • Really!? I was not aware of that. So, say you’re in line, shoe’s off, baggage on the rollers when a case of the runs suddenly rears it’s ugly head. You can’t put your shoes back on, grab your bag, and head back out to the bathroom?

        I just might have to test that the next time I fly.

    • I think from a purely logical standpoint the “screening process” begins when you actually arrive at the machines and personnel who will do the actually screening that determines your access to the secure area, NOT when you enter the queue. Since the “secure area” of the airport is that point beyond the TSA screeners and their machines anything up to that point is by definition “unsecure.” You should in theory be able to walk next to your wife or family or friend right up to that inspection point, armed or not, then step out of line without passing through and in so doing not have violated any law or regulation.

  6. Just for the factual record, Georgia has what is called a Weapons Carry License. You can conceal or open carry here, the license does not specify one type or the other.

    This license also covers non-firearm weapons (like long blades)

    Just a heads up, not such thing as CCW/CCP in our state.

  7. Georgia is a state which specifically allows CCW in the non-secured portion of its airports, and for many Georgians this blessing has proven to be decidedly mixed . . .

    How would this lead to more people entering security lines with a gun in Georgia? There are other States where you can see someone off or meet someone at the airport while carrying, but taking a firearm through security when flying is prohibited everywhere. The high number of seizures in Georgia seems suggestive of more Georgians actually carrying in daily life and not just warming their wallets with carry permits.

    • I forgot mine was on this weekend while I was getting measured for my tuxedo. Well, it’s not that I forgot about the gun, I really forgot about needing to be measured. The lady was measuring my waistline, stopped, looked up, and said, “Is that a…”
      “Well, I can’t get an accurate measurement with that on.”
      So I grabbed the fiancee’s purse, went to the changing room and did the transfer. When I came back to hear my fiancee say, “No” to the “Is he a cop?” question, I thought for sure she was going to tell the UNIFORMED ON-DUTY DEKALB PD OFFICER who was in there as well (not that I care, we both have GWCLs, but still). Luckily, she looks at me and says, “Don’t worry, happens all the time” and went right about her business.
      Long story longer, I think you might be right.

      • states that in Georgia the “No Guns” signs don’t have the force of law except at locations where guns are specifically proscribed by law. Or some such. This alone must boost the number of carriers. AZ, the supposed carry paradise, can only wish for such a law.

        • In our state preemption law, they outline a host of places (that keeps getting smaller) specifically denied to carry, e.g. churches, polling places, government buildings, colleges, and schools with a supposed loophole between the parking lot and the attendance office if you are checking out your kid and only go door to office to door (I can’t confirm/deny and would never chance it). Otherwise, no signage law. I’ve only seen one on a private business (a gas station) that wasn’t a mall with it buried in their long list of rules.

          This law is also great for the following reasons:
          1) churches and bars revert to private ownership rights.
          2) Allows firearms in government buildings that are not restricted or screened by security personnel during the hours the building is open for business (copied straight from GCO)
          3) decriminalized college campus carry ($100 ticket if caught)
          4) requires public housing to allow firearms unless federally prohibited
          5) school officials can authorize people to carry on campus (RF, you catch that?)
          6) removes fingerprints for renewals of GWCL
          7) fine in court for carrying without your license on you, if valid at time of arrest (i.e. lost wallet): $10
          8) removes any residual power currently held by state/local governments to take firearms during declared emergencies
          9) codifies common law defense for knowingly going into prohibited places in order to save lives (Good Samaritan law).
          10) reinforces private property rights for business owners to eject customers who carry but maintains that they can’t make it illegal.
          11) a person carrying a weapon cannot be detained soley to ask for a GWCL

          The fines are the funniest part to me. We couldn’t get this bill through last year because of campus carry, but it looks like it will with the fine. And $10 if you can prove you had a valid permit, but it wasn’t on you?

          BTW, this passed the House today (109-52, I think). Now on to the Senate, where campus carry killed this bill last year. We shall see.

  8. If you forget for one second that you are carrying a loaded weapon, you have no business carrying one. Atlanta Hartsfield is not I Corps in 1966.

    • I never forget I’m carrying. What I sometimes forget is that other people may have an irrational psychotic reaction to something I see as everyday normal.

  9. Gun grabbers oppose the bill because they never make mistakes….well, ceptin trusting armed criminals with their lives.

  10. Raleigh Durham has big signs on the roads approaching the airport saying “No Weapons”. So how are you supposed to travel with a rifle?


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