Many people want to travel with their weapons, and fortunately they are allowed to do that. However, Virginia does have some important laws on the books that gun owners need to know about. Failure to follow the law could result in a criminal record, fines, and possibly time in jail.
At Bain Sheldon, we are committed to defending those accused of crimes, including weapons charges. Contact our guns and weapons defense attorney in Virginia for more information.
Don’t Carry the Firearm into the Terminal
You can absolutely take your gun with you to the airport, but make sure you don’t try to carry it into the terminal. Va. Code § 18.2-287.01 prohibits transporting or possessing a gun or other weapon into any air carrier airport terminal in the state. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor which could result in a maximum of 1 year in jail and a 2,500 fine. A person will also forfeit their weapon.
There are exceptions for certain law enforcement and people employed by the air carrier, along with certain retired law enforcement personnel. If you have a question about whether you can carry, get legal advice first.
Virginia also has a general law that prohibits carrying certain loaded weapons in public, such as loaded semi-automatic rifles or pistols or shotguns with magazines that hold more than 7 rounds. See Va. Code § 18.2-287.4. Violation of this law is also a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Check Your Gun with Your Bags
Virginia’s law does not criminalize checking your firearm or weapon with your luggage or retrieving the weapon from the baggage claim. This is what travelers should do.
The Department of Homeland Security instructs travelers to carry unloaded firearms in hard-sided containers that are locked. The container should secure the firearm so that it is not easy to access. Any container that can be easily opened is unacceptable. All firearm parts, including magazines and clips, must be checked and cannot be carried onto the plane. However, rifle scopes can be carried on, or they can be checked with your baggage.
Ammunition must be transported in its original packaging or in a container that is made for that purpose. You cannot have ammunition loaded into the firearm, even if you think it is more convenient to transport it that way.
Remember to declare the firearm when you check your baggage. Personnel need to know that it is a firearm in the locked container, otherwise there could be problems. You should retain the key; however, TSA might request access to the firearm for inspection.
Ask the Airline about their Regulations
The regulations discussed above come from the federal government. However, each airline can also put different regulations on top of whatever the government requires. Call your airline well ahead of time to check their regulations.
The airline might limit the amount of ammunition you can transport. For example, Delta allows passengers to have up to 11 pounds of small arms ammunition per passenger. Multiple passengers cannot combine material in one package. If you do not follow the airline’s rules, they can prevent you from taking your weapons, so call them with questions.
Speak with a Virginia Guns and Weapons Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for carrying a weapon illegally in the airport, qualified legal representation is essential. Some prosecutors like to throw the book at suspects when weapons are involved so they can appear “tough” on guns.
Bain Sheldon has represented many people accused of weapons charges, and we know how the prosecutors think about these cases. For immediate assistance, please contact us to schedule a free case evaluation. We represent clients throughout Central Virginia, including in Petersburg, Glen Allen, Mechanicsville, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland, New Kent, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Powhatan, Prince George and Ashland.