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Gun Possession at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport – Criminal Charges

The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) leads Florida for having the most firearm confiscations and related arrests. In a recent year when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported a record number of guns seized nationally, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 7 in the country.

As The Sun Sentinel reported, almost 100 firearms were confiscated by TSA agents at FLL in a single recent year – more than any other airport in Florida. Orlando and Tampa weren’t far behind. More than 4,400 firearms were confiscated at airports nationwide that same year.

Both state and federal laws restrict possession of ammunition, weapons and firearms in airports. Travelers who wish to hardware along must adhere to very stringent rules. Violate these laws, and at minimum, you’re looking at a second-degree misdemeanor charge (punishable by up to 60 days in jail) – assuming you have a concealed carry license from Florida or another state with reciprocity. If you don’t have a concealed carry permit and you’re caught in an airport with a firearm in your possession, you could be charged with a third-degree felony, which can result in a maximum five-year prison sentence.

To top it all off, TSA can impose its own fine for firearm possession violations – up to $13,000.

Our Fort Lauderdale firearm defense attorneys encourage anyone facing these charges to seek legal advice immediately. If you can, don’t try to talk your way out of it at the airport. Instead, let us do the talking. There may be several effective defense approaches, but it’s imperative that these matters be handled by a defense lawyer with extensive experience in firearm possession cases.

FLL Takes Gun Possession Seriously

One of the reasons Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has such a high rate of gun possession arrests is because officials there take the offense very seriously – especially since 2017. That year, a gunman opened fire in the baggage claim area of the airport, killing five and wounding six. He was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison. It should be noted that he’d followed the legal procedure for traveling with a firearm.

Soon after, Broward County passed airport gun regulations prohibiting firearms at any airport property – including parking lots, roads and other parts of the airport. It was even applicable to taxi drivers with guns in their vehicles – even if they had the proper permitting. In practice, the county hadn’t been enforcing the tougher regulations, and was later successfully sued for the rule by a gun rights advocacy group.

Still, that doesn’t mean anything goes at FLL. F.S. 790.06(12)(a)14 still bans anyone from carrying a firearm – concealed or otherwise – into an airport terminal. If you’re outside the terminal or if your gun is stowed in a secure vehicle and you have a concealed carry permit, you should have no issue. TSA firearms rules do allow passengers to travel with a firearm, provided you are properly permitted, the gun is not loaded, it’s properly secured in a locked, hard-sided container inside your checked luggage and you have declared it to the airline.

Usually, people run afoul of these rules for two main reasons:

  • They didn’t know or fully understand the specific legal requirements that must be met for traveling with a firearm lawfully.
  • They didn’t realize they even had a gun in their baggage. (Many are rushed while traveling, a spouse may have packed it, it was left in one’s luggage after a previous trip, etc.)

Very, very few arrested on these charges intended to commit a crime, but that may not matter. What prosecutors need to show is that you knew you had a firearm in your actual or constructive possession in a place where weapons are restricted.

Penalties for Possession of Gun in Fort Lauderdale Airport

The penalties you face for unlawful possession of a firearm or other weapon in an airport will hinge significantly on whether you had a concealed carry license. If you aren’t from Florida, you’ll want to figure out if the carry license you have from your state is recognized by Florida (not all are, as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notes).

There are generally one of four charges you may face for unlawful possession of a gun at an airport. The most serious of these is carrying a concealed firearm without a license. In Florida, this is a felony for which you face up to five years in prison, five years of probation and/or a $5,000 fine. Then there is carrying a concealed weapon (other than a firearm) into an airport terminal. This is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

 Then there is carrying a concealed weapon with a license, but in a restricted area of the airport. This is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to two months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

If you are arrested at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on gun possession charges, our dedicated defense lawyers will fight for you, arguing for dismissal of the charges and fighting tirelessly to minimize the impact this is going to have on your life. 

If you have been charged with a gun crime or weapons offense in South Florida, contact the Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011.

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