National Academies Press: OpenBook

Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports (2016)


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Suggested Citation:"XIII. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS RESPONSE TO PERSONS CARRYING A FIREARM IN AN AIRPORT." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23597.
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Page 51
Suggested Citation:"XIII. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS RESPONSE TO PERSONS CARRYING A FIREARM IN AN AIRPORT." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23597.
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50 XIII. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS’ RESPONSE TO PERSONS CARRYING A FIREARM IN AN AIRPORT It appears that whenever a law enforcement offi- cer observes an individual carrying a firearm in public, the officer may make inquiries of the person and examine the firearm. At least one state’s inter- pretation of its law is that a law enforcement officer may stop and detain any person “reasonably sus- pected of violating” state law on the possession of handguns as may be “necessary to identify the per- son or determine the lawfulness of his or her con- duct.”512 In United States v. Mancillas,513 a case in which a police officer responded to a radio dispatch that there was a man with a gun in his hand in a car at a nightclub in Indianapolis, the Seventh Circuit stated that “[r]easonable suspicion requires less than the quantum of proof constituting probable cause.”514 Furthermore, “when officers receive an anonymous tip accurately describing an individual and alleging that the individual is armed, even ‘weak[] corroboration’ entitles police to stop and search the individual for a gun.”515 Some airport rules and regulations that prohibit firearms in airports, such as those of Logan Airport in Massachusetts and LAX, also require private individuals carrying a firearm into the airport to “surrender” it to airport police.516 State laws gener- ally authorize officers to search, in addition to the usual criminal, fugitive, sex offender, and other databases available to law enforcement, a state database on individuals having a license or permit to carry a firearm or to carry a concealed firearm.517 The question has arisen as to whether a person who is carrying a firearm may be questioned to violated the City’s right of home rule.502 Although the trial court upheld the constitutionality of the stat- ute,503 an Ohio appellate court reversed and remanded the case for the entry of a summary judgment in favor of the City.504 The appellate court held that the stat- ute was not a general law but one that limited the City’s power of home rule under Section 3 of Article XVIII of the Ohio Constitution and, thus, violated the doctrine of separation of powers.505 The Supreme Court of Ohio, however, upheld the constitutionality of the state statute on the basis that it was a general law for the purpose of home rule analysis and a necessary element of a three- part test used to evaluate conflicts between state statutes and local ordinances under the Ohio Home Rule Amendment.506 The court held that the statute dealt with a matter of statewide concern, was com- prehensive and uniform in its application, and together with other Ohio statutes, established a clear legal framework to regulate the carrying of concealed handguns.507 In another case involving state preemption, University of Utah v. Shurtloff,508 the issue was whether a university policy that prohibited univer- sity students, faculty, and staff from possessing firearms on campus contravened a Utah statute.509 The Utah statute preempted any local authority or state entity from adopting ordinances, regulations, rules, or policies that restrict the possession or use of firearms on public or private property. The Supreme Court of Utah held, first, that the policy did not contravene Article I, Section 6, of the Utah Constitution, because the university policy was not legislative in nature but rather was part of a con- tract between the university and its students, fac- ulty, and staff.510 Second, however, the court held that because the legislature may supervise and control all university functions, the university lacked “the authority to enact firearms policies in contravention of Utah statutory law.”511 502 Id. at 135–36. 503 Id. 504 City of Cleveland v. State, No. 92663, 2011 Ohio App. LEXIS 790 (Ohio Ct. App. Cuyahoga County Mar. 3, 2011), rev’d, City of Cleveland v. State, 128 Ohio St. 3d 135 (Ohio 2010). 505 Id. 506 City of Cleveland v. State, 128 Ohio St. 3d at 135, 137 (citing Mendenhall v. City of Akron, 117 Ohio St. 3d 33 (Ohio 2008)). 507 Id. at 138–39. 508 144 P.3d 1109 (Utah 2006). 509 utAh Code Ann. § 63-98-102(5) (LexisNexis 2015). 510 Shurtloff, 144 P.3d at 1115, 1116. 511 Id., 2006 UT 51 at P48, P56, 144 P.3d at 1121. 512 See Ark. Att’y Gen. Op. No. 2015-064, supra note 157, at 2. The opinion notes that various factors may give rise to a law enforcement officer’s reasonable suspicion, including the person’s demeanor, gait and manner; infor- mation received from third parties; and the person’s “prox- imity to known criminal conduct.” Id. 513 183 F.3d 682 (7th Cir. 1999). 514 Mancillas, 183 F.3d at 695. 515 Id. at 698 (citation omitted). 516 LAX rules And regulAtions §§ 2-1, 2-2 (Mar. 2014), Section_02_General_201112.pdf. 517 ky. rev. stAt. Ann. § 237.110(10) (LexisNexis 2015) (providing that an automated list of holders of a Kentucky license to carry a concealed firearm or other deadly weapon must be available to all law enforcement officers); minn. stAt. § 624.714(15)(a) (2015) (automated database of persons authorized to carry pistols available only to law enforcement officials to verify validity of a permit); Wyo. stAt. Ann. § 6-8-104(z)(bb) (2015).

51 also require licensees and permittees to have their license or permit, as well as proof of identity, in their immediate possession whenever they are carrying a firearm or a concealed firearm.524 An individual in Arizona must answer a law enforcement officer and inform the officer when the individual is carrying a concealed weapon on “any means of transportation.”525 In California, peace officers are authorized to examine any firearm car- ried by anyone on his or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or prohibited area of an unin- corporated territory.526 Connecticut requires a per- son to have his or her permit to carry a pistol or revolver when the permittee is carrying a pistol or revolver and to “present his or her permit upon the request of a law enforcement officer who has rea- sonable suspicion of a crime for purposes of verifi- cation of the validity of the permit or identification of the holder….”527 An officer must have observed, however, the person carrying the pistol or revolver.528 In Georgia, a licensee is not subject to detention for the sole purpose of investigating whether the person has a weapons-carry license.529 When a law enforcement officer in Ohio stops and approaches a licensee, the licensee must “promptly inform” the officer that the licensee is carrying a concealed handgun.530 Under Oregon law, an officer may examine a firearm in someone’s possession ascertain whether the person has a license. In United States v. Montague,518 decided by the Eleventh Cir- cuit in 2011, the defendant, a convicted felon, appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.519 Montague argued that because the “carrying of a concealed firearm with a permit is legal in Florida, the police officers did not have a reasonable suspicion that he was involved in illegal activity that violated Florida law because they did not know whether he had a permit.”520 Although the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion did not address whether the defendant’s license was invalid because of the felony conviction, the court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed his conviction. Relying on Florida cases, the court held that “probable cause existed to pat down and search a defendant where the officer observed the bulge of what appeared to be a concealed firearm….”521 Furthermore, “[u]nder the facts of this case, the officers did not need to ascer- tain whether Montague had a permit before they con- ducted a Terry stop and search because they had a reasonable suspicion that he was carrying a concealed weapon based on a reliable informant’s tip….”522 State laws reviewed for the digest typically require a holder of a license or permit to display his or her license or permit when a law enforcement officer demands or requests to see it.523 State laws 518 437 F. App’x. 833 (11th Cir. 2011). 519 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(c)(1) (2015). 520 Montague, 437 F. App’x at 835. 521 Id. at 836. 522 Id. at 834. 523 flA. stAt. Ann. § 790.06(1) (LexisNexis 2015) (requir- ing licensees to have a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm with valid identification when carrying a con- cealed weapon or firearm and to display both upon demand by a law enforcement officer); miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(1) (b) (2015); N.C. gen. stAt. § 14-415.11(a) (2015) (whenever one having a permit is carrying a concealed handgun, the permit holder “shall disclose to any law enforcement officer that the person holds a valid permit and is carrying a con- cealed handgun when approached or addressed by the offi- cer[] and…display both the permit and the proper identifi- cation upon the request of a law enforcement officer”); N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-04-04 (2015); vA. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.01 (2015) (shall display upon demand by a law enforcement officer); Wis. stAt. § 175.60(2g)(b) (2015) (requirement to display license “upon request” of a law enforcement officer); minn. stAt. § 624.714(1b) (2015) (display permit “upon law- ful demand by a peace officer”); N.Y. penAl lAW § 400.00(5) (a) (Consol. 2015) (holder of a New York license to carry must identify the “firearms possessed by said license holder”); N.Y. penAl lAW § 400.00(8) (Consol. 2015) (requir- ing holder to exhibit his or her license upon demand to any peace officer); tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351(n)(1) (2015) (handgun carry permit holder “shall display the permit on demand of a law enforcement officer”); WAsh. rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.050(1)(b) (LexisNexis 2015) (licensee to carry concealed pistol shall display his or her license “upon demand” to any police officer). 524 Conn. gen. stAt. § 29-35(b) (2015) (requiring holder of a permit to carry a pistol or revolver to have the permit on him or her when carrying a pistol or revolver); flA. stAt. Ann. § 790.015(1)(b) (LexisNexis 2015) (requiring one carrying a concealed weapon or firearm to have the license to carry in his or her immediate possession); me. rev. stAt. tit. 25, § 2003(11) (2015) (regarding permit to carry concealed hand- gun); miss. Code Ann. § 45-9-101(1)(b) (2015); N.C. gen. stAt. § 14-415.11(a) (2015) (requiring permit holder when carry- ing a concealed firearm to display the permit along with proper identification upon request to a law enforcement offi- cer); N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-04-04 (2015); gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-137(a) (2015) (applicable to weapons-carry licensee); S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-25(K) (2015) (requiring permit holder to have permit identification card in his or her possession whenever carrying a concealable weapon); tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1351(n)(1) (2015) (holder required to have handgun carry permit in holder’s immediate possession); vA. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.01(A) (2015) (stating that a licensee shall have permit on his person at all times when carrying a con- cealed handgun); Wis. stAt. § 175.60(2g)(b) (2015). 525 Ariz. rev. stAt. §§ 13-3102(a)(1), (b)(12) (LexisNexis 2015). 526 CAl. penAl Code § 25850(b) (Deering 2015). 527 Conn. gen. stAt. § 29-35(b) (2015). 528 Id. 529 gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-137(b) (2015). 530 ohio rev. Code Ann. § 2923.12(B)(11) (LexisNexis 2015).

Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports Get This Book
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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Legal Research Digest 29: Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports analyzes recent court cases on federal and state laws that have been challenged for restricting or prohibiting the carrying of firearms in public and other places.

The right to carry guns at airports is subject to the U.S. Constitution, federal and state legislation, and judicial decisions. Some state laws allow guns to be carried openly in public places. Most state laws regulate how guns are to be carried in a vehicle or left in a public or an employer’s parking lot. These and other state laws also have ramifications for commercial airports in the United States.

Accompanying the report are appendices available online:

  • Appendix A: Survey Questions
  • Appendix B: List of Airports and Airport Authorities Responding to the Survey
  • Appendix C: Summary of Responses by Airports and Airport Authorities to the Survey
  • Appendix D: ACRP Web Only Document 29: Compendium of State and Federal Laws Affecting the Possession of Firearms at Airports
  • Appendix E: Airport Ordinances, Policies, and Rules and Regulations Provided by Airports Responding to the Survey
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