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Concealed weapons at airports

Posted by attorney Carina Castaneda

It is also not rare that clients are stopped for a traffic violation and a search ensues and such “illegal" weapons are seized.

On January 4, 2012, the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) indicated it found a .45-caliber handgun in California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s briefcase at Ontario Airport. Donnelly was cited on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a loaded firearm, punishable by a sentence of one year in jail and a $1000 plus penalties in fines.

But whether Donnelly had the right to carry a loaded weapon anywhere is a separate question and a crime that was not definitely answered the day he was cited. At the time, San Bernardino Sheriff’s officials stated that they had not issued Donnelly a concealed weapons permit, and a TSA spokesperson stated that his understanding was that Donnelly “didn’t have one."

If that is the case, the added charge would carry an additional fine and could face up to one year in jail, as a misdemeanor offense. Donnelly was questioned about whether he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and his response was that “he felt enough information about the concealed weapons permit issue had been released or published already."

Donnelly spends about half his time during the legislative year in the capital, but both the Sacramento Police and Sheriff’s Department said that they have not issued him a concealed weapons permit. Assembly officials further indicated that they too have never issued him a permit to carry a gun in the Capitol.

The 45-year-old Twin Peaks Republican announced the same week that he had failed in his signature-gathering campaign to overturn the California Dream Act, the new law that will allow undocumented immigrant college students access to public financial aid. Donnelly’s defends himself by stating that he had armed himself because of recent death threats and had mistakenly placed the gun in his briefcase. He was preparing to board a flight at the Ontario Airport for a flight to Sacramento for the first Assembly session of the New Year.

Edward Weese, a range master for the San Bernardino Pistol Club, recently spoke to some media outlets, and stated that he only knew what “he’d read in the paper about Donnelly’s gun incident. But he said that even the couple of members of his club who have concealed carry permits don’t take them on airplanes." He further added, “They never take it out of the house, except when they’re going to the wrong place at the wrong time."

In the same week, authorities again arrested a man at Long Beach Airport after having a loaded handgun found in his carry-on. He was taken into custody when the loaded .38-caliber handgun containing six round of ammunition was found his bag at a checkpoint. Two ammunition magazines each containing seven rounds were also found. It is not clear why the unidentified passenger had the weapon.

I have had clients stopped at the airport for having concealed weapons, including but not limited to guns, martial arts classes equipment or even brass knuckles. It is also not rare that clients are stopped for a traffic violation and a search ensues and such “illegal" weapons are seized. The individual then is arrested or cited facing criminal charges. “I forgot they were in there" or “Not mine" defense is commonly used i.e. Donnelly. The likelihood that the prosecutors will believe this is slim and as such, criminal convictions will be imminent.

It is also not rare that clients are stopped for a traffic violation and a search ensues and such “illegal" weapons are seized.

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