What is Carrying a Weapon in an Airport?
Virginia Code § 18.2-287.01 prohibits carrying a weapon in an airport:
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or transport into any air carrier airport terminal in the Commonwealth any (i) gun or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile or projectile of any kind, (ii) frame, receiver, muffler, silencer, missile, projectile or ammunition designed for use with a dangerous weapon, and (iii) any other dangerous weapon, including explosives, stun weapons as defined in § 18.2-308.1, and those weapons specified in subsection A of § 18.2-308. Any such weapon shall be subject to seizure by a law-enforcement officer.
If you live in the Northern Virginia area, in all likelihood, you are not too far from either Reagan National Airport (DCA), or Dulles International Airport (IAD). It is not uncommon for residents to travel to these airports regularly for their own travel, or to drop off and pick up friends and relatives.
It is not unforeseeable that a person may make some simple, but consequential mistakes. A Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) holder may carry a loved ones bags, or wait in the lobby, forgetting that their weapon is not permitted even in these areas. It is also possible that someone who owns firearms may accidentally pack in a bag that is not totally empty. The statute does not limit the charge only to functional and/or loaded firearms. You may be charged if you have accessories or parts with you, including a lower receiver on its own, a suppressor or silencer, and even a single round of ammunition that got stuck in the bottom corner of a bag you regularly use.
This charge is not limited to firearms, but includes other weapons such as stun guns, certain knives, and others.
You may be charged even if you have not approached or passed security, and even if you were not at the airport to board a flight for yourself.
If you are traveling, and want to know how to safely and legally transport your firearms, the TSA provides a brief explainer: here.
How is Carrying a Weapon in an Airport Punished?
A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any weapon possessed or transported in violation of this section shall be forfeited to the Commonwealth and disposed of as provided in § 19.2-386.28.
A Class 1 Misdemeanor is the most ‘serious’ misdemeanor charge, and can carry a jail sentence up to one year, as well as a fine of up to $2,500.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Yes. This is a serious charge. A misdemeanor conviction cannot be expunged from your record. As it appears on your record, it will not be immediately distinguishable to a third party- employer or otherwise- if this was a forgetful accident, or something more serious. A qualified attorney can help you through the process, and explore your options. Contact Farheena Siddiqui and Brian Szmak to talk through this charge and your options further.