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FAQs: Firearms on Airport Property

Understanding firearm laws for airport environments is essential for anyone who owns or handles firearms. Airports, serving as intersections of various jurisdictions, follow a specific set of regulations that merge federal and state laws. This is especially relevant in Indiana, where state laws add another layer to the federal rules governing firearms at airports. Compliance with these laws is not just a legal requirement but a fundamental aspect of responsible firearm ownership. 

At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we understand that the legal aspects of carrying or transporting firearms on airport property can be a source of confusion for many. However, the implications of these laws are critical for maintaining both your safety and legal status; thus, being well-informed is crucial.  

If you’re seeking clarity or advice about Indiana’s firearm laws as they apply to airports, our team is here to help. The Indiana gun crimes attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have extensive experience in navigating both federal and Indiana state firearm regulations and are prepared to offer the necessary insight and support. To speak with one of our attorneys, contact our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

What are the Federal Laws on Firearms and Airports? 

When it comes to federal laws governing firearms at airports, the rules are clear. However, careful attention is always required to ensure legal compliance when traveling with firearms; as ignorance of these laws does not exempt one from legal responsibility or consequence. 

The most relevant legislation is found in the regulations set forth by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). That said, there are several other federal statutes that address the transportation and possession of firearms, including in airports. 

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Regulations: The TSA has specific guidelines on how firearms and ammunition must be transported in checked baggage. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared at the airline check-in counter. Ammunition is also subject to strict rules. Whether loaded or empty, it must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. 

Title 49 of the United States Code, Section 46505: This law deals with the carrying of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals on aircraft. Under Section 46505(b) individuals are prohibited from carrying a firearm or any dangerous weapon in a way accessible during the flight. Violations of this law could lead to federal misdemeanor charges. Furthermore, under Section 46505(c), if the act described above is done willfully, without regard to the safety of human life, the offender may be charged with a felony under federal law. 

Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 922: This section of federal law outlines unlawful acts related to firearms. Specifically, it includes regulations on the interstate transportation of firearms, which is highly relevant for those traveling through airports. 

Airport Terminal Areas: While TSA regulations focus on the transportation of firearms, it’s also important to be aware of the rules regarding carrying firearms in airport terminal areas. These areas are typically governed by state law, but in some cases, federal buildings or properties within the airport may have separate restrictions. 

What Does Indiana Law Say About Firearms and Airports? 

Alongside the federal laws outlined above, Indiana law provides additional layers of regulation regarding firearms at airports. These laws prohibit the carrying of weapons on aircraft and in airports. Indiana law also provides general regulations on who can and cannot carry a firearm in the state.  

The laws and regulations contained in Chapter 6 of Indiana Code 35-47 all specifically address the topic of weapons on aircraft and in airports in Indiana. Under this chapter of the law, it is illegal to:  

  • Board a charter aircraft with a firearm (Indiana Code 35-47-6-1
  • Check an item to be transported on a commercial passenger airline while knowing the item contains a firearm and knowingly or intentionally failing to disclose to proper authorities that item contains a firearm (Indiana Code 35-47-6-1.1
  • Knowingly or intentionally pass through security or other controlled access areas of an airport with a firearm or while having access to a firearm (Indiana Code 35-47-6-1.3

Beyond the laws described above, anyone who wishes to carry a firearm in Indiana, in general, must NOT be considered a prohibited person under Indiana Code 35-47-2-1.5. Under this section of law, a prohibited person in Indiana includes a person who has/is:  

  • Been convicted of a State or Federal offense punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year 
  • Been convicted of a Crime of Domestic Violence, Domestic Battery, or Criminal Stalking with firearms rights not restored 
  • Restrained by an Order of Protection issued under IC 34-26-5 (excluding Workplace Violence Orders). 
  • A Fugitive from Justice 
  • Under Indictment (felony charges filed by a prosecutor) 
  • Adjudicated dangerous under IC 35-47-14-6 
  • Adjudicated as a mental defective 
  • Committed to a mental institution 
  • Been dishonorably discharged from military service or the National Guard 
  • Renounced U.S. citizenship as described in 8 U.S.C. 1481 
  • Under eighteen years of age, unless authorized under IC 35-47-10 
  • Under twenty-three years of age with an adjudication as a delinquent child for an act described by IC 35-47-4-5, unless authorized under IC 35-47-10 
  • An Alien 

Other Common Questions on Firearms and Airports 

The experienced gun crimes attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP routinely assist clients with a variety of firearm-related legal matters, including ones dealing with firearms on airport property in Indiana. The following questions are some of other more common questions on the topic, however, this post is no substitute for real legal advice. Given this, if you do have questions or concerns regarding Indiana firearms law, do not hesitate to contact our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

  • Can I carry my firearm in the public areas of an airport in Indiana? 
    • Yes, in Indiana, individuals can legally carry handguns in the public areas of airports. However, this does not apply to secure areas controlled by the TSA, such as screening checkpoints and boarding areas. 
  • How should I transport my firearm when flying? 
    • Federal law requires that firearms be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared at the airline check-in counter. The TSA has strict guidelines on the transportation of firearms and ammunition in checked baggage and these shuld be consulted. 
  • What happens if I accidentally bring a firearm to a TSA checkpoint? 
    • Accidentally bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint can lead to serious legal consequences, including fines and possible arrest. It’s essential to thoroughly check all bags and personal items before approaching a TSA checkpoint. 
  • How Common are Confiscations in Indiana?  
    • Confiscations are rather common in airports nationwide. According to the TSA, they stopped a record 6,737 firearms at 265 airports in 2023. In Indiana, in particular, TSA officials confiscated a record number of 95 firearms in 2023; a 39% increase from 2022. 
  • Are there different rules for carrying firearms in different airports within Indiana? 
    • While Indiana state law provides a general framework for carrying firearms in airports, individual airports may have additional regulations. It’s important to check the specific rules of the airport you’re visiting. 
  • What should I do if I’m unsure about the legality of carrying my firearm at an airport? 
    • If you’re uncertain about the legal aspects of carrying your firearm at an airport, it’s advisable to consult with legal experts (as well as your airline). The Indiana gun rights attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can provide guidance specific to state law. 

Practical Tips for Firearm Owners 

For firearm owners, traveling through airports requires careful planning and awareness of the laws. Here are some practical tips to ensure a smooth and lawful experience: 

  • Know the Laws: Familiarize yourself with both federal and Indiana state laws regarding firearms at airports. Remember, laws can vary significantly from one state to another. 
  • Proper Packing of Firearms: Always unload your firearm before packing it for travel. Use a locked hard-sided container as required by the TSA and store ammunition separately. Make sure you declare these items at the airline check-in counter. 
  • License and Documentation: Carry all necessary licenses and documents that prove your eligibility to possess and carry the firearm.  
  • Check Airport-Specific Rules: Before traveling, check the specific rules and regulations of the airport you’ll be visiting. Some airports might have additional restrictions or guidelines. 
  • Early Arrival at the Airport: Arrive at the airport well in advance of your flight to allow ample time for any additional screening or to address any issues that may arise from traveling with your firearm. 
  • Responsiveness and Compliance at TSA Checkpoints: Be cooperative and transparent with TSA agents. If you’re carrying a firearm or ammunition, declare it up front to avoid misunderstandings or legal issues. 
  • Plan for Your Destination: Make sure you are legally able to carry a firearm when you arrive at your destination. You need to make sure you are carrying legal from where you depart, while you’re in transit, and when you arrive. 
  • Contact Legal Professionals When in Doubt: If you have any uncertainties or specific questions, don’t hesitate to contact legal experts like those at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. They can provide tailored advice based on the most current laws. 

Following these tips can help ensure that your travel experience with firearms is as hassle-free and lawful as possible. It’s about being a responsible firearm owner and respecting the legal and safety protocols in place at airports. 

Need Further Assistance with Firearms on Airport Property? 

When transporting firearms, staying updated with both federal and state laws is key to ensuring a hassle-free experience. As these laws can be subject to change, consulting with a legal expert, such as the attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, can provide the most current and comprehensive understanding of your rights and responsibilities. To speak with an attorney about a firearm-related matter, call our firm today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

This post addresses the key laws for firearms at airports and provides some essential tips for navigating Indiana and federal regulations regarding the topic.
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