National Academies Press: OpenBook

Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports (2016)

Chapter: IV. STATE LAWS ON THE POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN A MOTOR VEHICLE IN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PARKING FACILITY

« Previous: III. STATE LAWS PROHIBITING OR IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS ON THE POSSESSION OF FIREARMS ON PUBLIC STREETS AND HIGHWAYS, IN PUBLIC PLACES, AND IN MOTOR VEHICLES
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Suggested Citation:"IV. STATE LAWS ON THE POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN A MOTOR VEHICLE IN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PARKING FACILITY." 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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Suggested Citation:"IV. STATE LAWS ON THE POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN A MOTOR VEHICLE IN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PARKING FACILITY." 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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21 It is a felony in Pennsylvania to carry “a firearm in a vehicle…without a valid and lawfully issued license….”227 In the state of Washington, [a] person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) the pistol is on the licensee’s person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.228 4. Licensee’s Obligation to Keep a Firearm Out of Sight and Secured As discussed in the preceding section, in some states it is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. In most states, when transporting a firearm in a motor vehicle, a licensee must keep the firearm out of sight and secured. Section 25400 of the California Penal Code, which applies to the unlawful possession of a concealed weapon (which is lawful when a person is licensed to carry a concealed weapon), allows a person over the age of 18 to trans- port a firearm that is capable of being concealed when the “firearm is within a motor vehicle and it is locked in the vehicle’s trunk or in a locked container in the vehicle.”229 A person having a valid permit in Tennessee to carry a handgun may transport and store a firearm or ammunition in the permit holder’s vehicle as long as the firearm or ammunition is kept “from ordinary observation” or is secured in the vehicle in the man- ner required by the statute.230 It becomes unlawful for a permit holder in Tennessee to have a firearm in a motor vehicle if the vehicle is owned or leased by a government or private entity that has adopted a written policy prohibiting the possession of firearms or ammunition that are “not required for employ- ment with such a motor vehicle.”231 Finally, many states, as discussed in Section VII.D, prohibit the possession or transportation of specific kinds of firearms.232 In sum, when a traveler is carrying a firearm when en route to an airport, there are several ways that the person, knowingly or unknowingly, could be violating state law. It seems that there is a greater likelihood of an infraction of state law if an individual is carrying a firearm in a motor vehicle without a license to carry a firearm or to carry a concealed firearm; the firearm is loaded and not out of sight and is accessible to the individual carrying the firearm (e.g., is not locked in a separate compartment in the vehicle), or the motor vehicle is owned or controlled by a person, other than the one carrying the firearm, who has not consented to the presence of a firearm in the vehicle. IV. STATE LAWS ON THE POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN A MOTOR VEHICLE IN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PARKING FACILITY A. Introduction Although there are undoubtedly many options for parking at or near one of the nation’s airports, motorists may park their vehicle in parking facili- ties that airports own or operate or in parking facili- ties that airports lease to a private concessionaire. As an alternative, motorists may park in other pri- vately or publicly owned facilities near an airport. As with the transportation of a firearm in a motor vehicle, state statutes vary on whether it is lawful to leave a firearm in a vehicle in a public or private parking facility. However, as long as a motorist or a passenger complies with the relevant state’s laws, it appears that most states allow an individual to leave a firearm in a motor vehicle in a parking lot owned by the state or a unit of local government, including at airports. B. State Laws that Apply to the Possession of Firearms in Publicly Owned or Leased Parking Facilities 1. States Prohibiting Firearms in Publicly Owned or Leased Parking Facilities A few states prohibit a firearm in a vehicle that is parked in a publicly owned or leased parking facil- ity. In Oklahoma, it is not lawful to carry a handgun on property set aside by a government authority for parking.233 In West Virginia, a person may keep a lawful firearm in a motor vehicle in municipal pub- lic parking facilities as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm is “out of view.”234 A municipality may, however, prohibit individuals having a license to carry a concealed handgun from possessing a fire- arm on municipally owned or operated property.235 227 18 pA. Cons. stAt. § 6106(a)(1) (2015). See also 18 pA. Cons. stAt. §§ 6106(b)(11)–(15) (stating exceptions). 228 WAsh. rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.050(2)(a) (LexisNexis 2015). 229 CAl. penAl Code § 25610(a)(1) (Deering 2015). See also CAl. penAl Code § 16850 (Deering 2015) (defining the term “locked container”). 230 tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-3113(a)(1), (2) (2015). 231 tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1307(e)(1), 39-17-1307(2) (B)(i), 39-17-1307(ii) (2015). 232 miCh. Comp. lAWs serv. §§ 750.227(1), 750.227(2), 750.227c(1)(a) (LexisNexis 2015)); see also miCh. Comp. lAWs serv. § 750.228(1) (LexisNexis 2015) (lawful trans- portation of a firearm greater than 26 in. in length). 233 oklA. stAt. tit. 21, § 12277(B) (2015). 234 W. vA. Code Ann. § 8-12-5a(b)(3) (LexisNexis 2015). 235 W. vA. Code Ann. § 8-12-5a(b)(4) (LexisNexis 2015).

22 2. States Not Prohibiting Firearms in Publicly Owned or Leased Parking Facilities As discussed in Section V, although it may not be lawful for a person to possess a firearm in a publicly owned or leased building, in many states it is lawful to have a firearm in a vehicle in a parking lot in or on the same premises as a publicly owned or leased building.236 Furthermore, if an owner of a vehicle has a permit to carry, it may be lawful for the owner of the vehicle to have a firearm in the vehicle when it is in a parking lot237 and/or if the firearm is out of view and secured as required by the applicable stat- ute.238 For example, in Arkansas, although a private individual may not “knowingly carry or possess a loaded firearm in any publicly owned building,”239 it is permissible for a person with a license to carry a concealed handgun to leave a firearm in the licens- ee’s “locked and unattended motor vehicle in a pub- licly owned and maintained parking lot.”240 Although there are some exceptions noted in the following section, Florida law expressly forbids the imposition of any restrictions on leaving a firearm locked in a motor vehicle in a parking lot: (a) No public or private employer may prohibit any customer, employee, or invitee from possessing any legally owned firearm when such firearm is lawfully possessed and locked inside or locked to a private motor vehicle in a parking lot and when the customer, employee, or invitee is lawfully in such area…. (d) No public or private employer shall prohibit or attempt to prevent any customer, employee, or invitee from entering the parking lot of the employer’s place of business because the customer’s, employee’s, or invitee’s private motor vehi- cle contains a legal firearm being carried for lawful pur- poses, that is out of sight within the customer’s, employee’s, or invitee’s private motor vehicle.241 Some of the exceptions to the above prohibitions are that they do not apply to “[p]roperty owned or leased by a public or private employer or the land- lord of a public or private employer upon which are conducted substantial activities involving national defense, aerospace, or homeland security.”242 In North Carolina, it is unlawful to carry a con- cealed handgun without a concealed handgun per- mit. A person having a handgun permit, however, is not prohibited from keeping a handgun in a closed compartment or container within the person’s locked vehicle when the vehicle is in a parking area that is owned or leased by state government.243 C. State Laws that Apply to the Possession of a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle in Airport Parking Areas In their responses to the survey, 22 airports reported that private individuals may carry fire- arms on other airport property such as parking areas,244 whereas 5 airports stated that firearms are 241 flA. stAt. Ann. §§ 790.251(4)(a),(d) (LexisNexis 2015) (Florida Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008) (emphasis added). See also gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-135(b) (2015) (unlawful to condition employment on the prohibi- tion of the right of an employee to enter a parking lot with a firearm when the firearm “is locked out of sight”). 242 flA. stAt. Ann. § 790.251(7)(d) (LexisNexis 2015). 243 N.C. gen. stAt. § 14-269(a)(a2) (2015). 244 Responses of Albuquerque International Sunport Air- port, N.M.; Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, Tex.; Blue Grass Airport, Lexington, Ky.; Casper/Natrona County International Airport, Wyo.; Clinton National/Adams Field Airport, Little Rock, Ark. (citing Ark. Const. art. 2, § 5 and Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-119(e)); Columbia Metropolitan Air- port, S.C. (stating that firearms may be carried by one hold- ing a concealed weapons permit); Dallas Fort Worth Inter- national Airport, Tex. (stating “only with a permit”); Eppley Airfield Airport (Omaha), Neb.; George Bush Interconti- nental/Houston Airport, Tex.; Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Grand Forks International Airport, N.D.; Huntsville International–Carl T. Jones Field, Ala.; Laguardia Airport, N.Y. Lincoln Airport–Lincoln 236 miCh. Comp. lAWs serv. § 28.425o(4) (LexisNexis 2015) (stating that premises where licensees may not carry a concealed weapon do not include the premises’ parking areas); minn. stAt. § 624.714(17)(c) (2015) (providing that the owner or operator of a private establishment may not prohibit the lawful carry or possession of firearms in a parking facility or parking area); tex. penAl Code Ann. § 46.035 (2016) (defining, in a section applicable to a holder of a license to carry a handgun, that the term “premises” means a building but not “any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area”); Wis. stAt. § 943.13(1m)(c)(4) (2015) (authorizing possession of a firearm that is prohibited in a building, as provided in the statute, in a vehicle in any part of the building used as a parking facility). 237 gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-127(d)(3) (2015) (person with a weapons-carry license not prohibited from having a weapon that is under the possessor’s control in a motor vehicle or that is in a locked compartment when the vehi- cle is in a parking facility); minn. stAt. § 624.714(1)(b) (2015) (permit required to possess or carry a pistol includ- ing in a motor vehicle); Wis. stAt. § 175.60(16) (2015) (per- son having a license to carry a concealed weapon not pro- hibited from having a weapon in a vehicle driven or parked in certain parking facilities). 238 vA. Code Ann. § 18.2-308(c)(10) (2015) (firearm per- missible in a personal private vehicle as long as it is secured in a container or compartment). 239 Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-122(a)(1) (2015). There are two exceptions not relevant to the digest. See Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-322 (2015) (applicable to the carrying of a handgun in a university, college, or community college building); Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-306(5) (2015) (stating that a license to carry a concealed handgun does not authorize any person to carry a concealed handgun into any courthouse, courthouse annex, or other building owned, leased, or regularly used by a county for conducting court proceedings or housing a county office unless otherwise authorized in the statute). 240 Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-122(A)(3)(C)(i) (2015).

Next: V. STATE LAWS THAT PROHIBIT FIREARMS IN PUBLICLY OWNED OR LEASED BUILDINGS »
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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