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Impact of Firearms Laws on Airports (2016)

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

« Previous: IV. STATE LAWS ON THE POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN A MOTOR VEHICLE IN A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PARKING FACILITY
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Suggested Citation:"V. STATE LAWS THAT PROHIBIT FIREARMS IN PUBLICLY OWNED OR LEASED BUILDINGS." 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:"V. STATE LAWS THAT PROHIBIT FIREARMS IN PUBLICLY OWNED OR LEASED BUILDINGS." 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:"V. STATE LAWS THAT PROHIBIT FIREARMS IN PUBLICLY OWNED OR LEASED BUILDINGS." 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:"V. STATE LAWS THAT PROHIBIT FIREARMS IN PUBLICLY OWNED OR LEASED BUILDINGS." 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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23 prohibited or that there are some restrictions on the possession of a firearm in parking areas.245 There are some state statutes that are specific to airports. Georgia law provides that [n]o person shall enter the restricted access area of a com- mercial service airport, in or beyond the airport security screening checkpoint, knowingly possessing or knowingly having under his or her control a weapon or long gun. Such area shall not include an airport drive, general parking area, walkway, or shops and areas of the terminal that are outside the screening checkpoint and that are normally open to unscreened passengers or visitors to the airport.246 In Missouri, the possession of a firearm in a vehi- cle on airport premises is not a criminal offense as long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or “brandished while the vehicle is on the prem- ises….”247 As in Georgia, in the State of Washington, the “restricted access areas of a commercial service airport” do “not include airport drives, general park- ing areas and walkways, and shops and areas of the terminal that are outside the screening checkpoints and that are normally open to unscreened passen- gers or visitors to the airport.”248 D. Possession of Firearms in Privately Owned or Leased Parking Facilities It appears that state statutes generally allow the possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle in a pri- vate parking facility unless an owner of the facility is allowed under state law to prohibit firearms on private property as discussed in Section VIII. In Alabama, although there are some exceptions, a person having a firearm on the premises of a pri- vate facility to which access is limited by the use of security measures must keep the firearm “from ordi- nary observation and locked within a compartment or in the interior of the person’s motor vehicle or in a component or container securely affixed to the motor vehicle.”249 In Illinois, although the owner of private real property may prohibit the carrying of concealed fire- arms on the owner’s property, one having a license to carry a concealed firearm is permitted in certain instances “to carry a concealed firearm on or about his or her person within a vehicle into the parking area and may store a firearm or ammunition con- cealed in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle in the parking area.”250 Nebraska allows a permit holder to possess a con- cealed handgun in a parking area open to the public as long as “the handgun is locked inside the glove box, trunk, or other compartment of the vehicle, [or] a storage box securely attached to the vehicle….”251 To summarize, state laws generally allow a per- son legally carrying a firearm to leave the firearm in a motor vehicle in a publicly or privately owned parking lot. There is a greater likelihood that a per- son carrying a firearm is in compliance with state law when a person has a license to carry a firearm; the person is in the parking lot lawfully; the firearm is not visible and/or is locked in the vehicle as other- wise required by statute (e.g., in a separate compart- ment or in the trunk); and the individual does not remove the firearm from the vehicle or otherwise brandish the firearm. In some states, a public authority such as a municipality may prohibit fire- arms in parking lots. V. STATE LAWS THAT PROHIBIT FIREARMS IN PUBLICLY OWNED OR LEASED BUILDINGS A. Introduction All 552 commercial service airports in the United States are said to be “owned by public entities, municipalities, transportation districts or airport authorities.”252 Notwithstanding other state laws, local ordinances, and airport policies, discussed in 249 AlA. Code § 13A-11-61.2 (LexisNexis 2015). 250 430 ill. Comp. stAt. Ann. 66/65(b) (LexisNexis 2015). 251 neB. rev. stAt. Ann. § 69-2441(3) (LexisNexis 2015). 252 Christine Negroni, In Missouri, Investors Seek a Profit in Branson Airport, N.Y. times, Apr. 20, 2009, http:// www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/business/21branson.html. Branson Airport in Missouri is “the only privately financed commercial airport in America.” Id. Federal law defines a “commercial service airport” as “a public airport in a State that the Secretary [of Transportation] determines has at least 2,500 passenger boardings each year and is receiv- ing scheduled passenger aircraft service.” 49 U.S.C. § 47102(7) (2015). Airport Authority, Neb.; Louisville International–Standiford Field, Ky.; Memphis International Airport, Tenn.; Minneapolis–St. Paul International/World–Chamberlain Airport, Minn.; Portsmouth International Airport, N.H.; Theodore Francis Green State Airport–Rhode Island Airport Corp. (citing R.I. gen. lAWs § 11-47-11 (license or permit to carry concealed pistol or revolver)); Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Spokane International Airport, Wash.; Tucson International Airport–Tucson Airport Authority, Ariz. 245 Responses of Bangor International Airport, Me.; Bismarck Municipal Airport, N.D. (stating that the answer is no, unless the firearm comes within N.D. Cent. Code § 6-08-02); General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee, Wisc.; Nashville International Airport, Tenn. (stating that a firearm may be kept in the trunk of a vehi- cle); Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Mich. 246 gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-130.2(a) (2015) (emphasis added), but see gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-130.2(b) (2015). 247 mo. rev. stAt. § 571.107(1)(8) (2015). 248 WAsh. rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.300(1)(e) (LexisNexis 2015).

24 the next section of the digest, that prohibit firearms in airports, at least 16 states either ban the carrying of a firearm by private individuals in public build- ings altogether or allow local governmental authori- ties to post signs banning firearms. Some statutes specifically ban firearms in pub- lic places and public buildings.253 In construing state statutes applicable to public places and pub- lic buildings, the courts have assumed or held that an airport is a public place and that buildings owned by airports and airport authorities are public buildings.254 Arizona defines a public estab- lishment to include a structure that is owned, leased, or operated by the State or a political sub- division of the State.255 Oregon law defines the term “public building” to include any portion of a building occupied by an agency of the State or a municipal corporation.256 Several airports that responded to the survey reported that they have banned firearms in the airport based on their state’s law that allows the banning of firearms in public buildings when the buildings have signs posted in accordance with the statute.257 B. State Laws that Prohibit Firearms in Publicly Owned or Leased Buildings Several states have statutes that categorically prohibit firearms in publicly owned or leased build- ings, or, alternatively, that allow governmental authorities to prohibit firearms in a building owned or leased by the state, a political subdivision of the state, or a municipality, or in a public place, includ- ing concealed firearms.258 In Arkansas, a person other than a law enforce- ment officer or a security guard may not “knowingly carry or possess a loaded firearm in any publicly owned building….”259 Another subsection of the stat- ute provides that a license to carry a concealed handgun does not authorize a person to carry a con- cealed handgun into “[a]ny place at the discretion of the person or entity exercising control over the physical location of the place” who posts a sign in the format required at each entrance advising that “‘carrying a handgun is prohibited.’”260 If a person has a license to carry a concealed handgun, however, it is permissible to leave the firearm in the person’s “locked and unattended motor vehicle in a publicly owned and maintained parking lot.”261 In Connecticut, a permit to carry a pistol or revolver does not authorize the possession of a pistol or revolver on any premises in which the person who owns or exercises control over the premises has pro- hibited firearms.262 Illinois law simply states that an individual may not carry a firearm into “[a]ny build- ing or portion of a building under the control of a unit of local government.”263 In North Carolina, a statute intended to achieve statewide uniformity provides: Nothing contained in this section prohibits municipalities or counties from application of their authority under [other state laws], including prohibiting the possession of firearms in public-owned buildings, on the grounds or parking areas of those buildings, or in public parks or recreation areas, except nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a person from storing a firearm within a motor vehicle while the vehicle is on these grounds or areas.264 258 kAn. stAt. Ann. § 237.115(2) (2015) (stating that “[e]xcept as provided in KRS 527.020, the legislative body of a state, city, county, or urban-county government may, by statute, administrative regulation, or ordinance, pro- hibit or limit the carrying of concealed deadly weapons by licensees in that portion of a building owned, leased, or controlled by that unit of government”); mo. rev. stAt. § 571.107(1)(6) (2015) (government may prohibit or limit carrying of concealed firearms in portion of a “building owned, leased or controlled by that unit of government”); mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-328(1)(a) (2015) (prohibiting con- cealed weapons in “portions of a building used for state and local government offices and related areas”). 259 Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-122(a)(1) (2015). See excep- tions in Ark. Code Ann. §§ 5-73-322, 5-73-306(5) (2015). 260 Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-306(19)(A)(i) (2015). 261 Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-122(a)(3)(C)(i) (2015). 262 Conn. gen. stAt. § 29-28(e) (2015) (applicable to a permit to carry a pistol or revolver). 263 430 ill. Comp. stAt. Ann. 66/65(a)(2)(5) (LexisNexis 2015). 264 N.C. gen. stAt. § 14-409.40(f) (2015) (emphasis added). 253 AlA. Code §§ 13A-11-59(a)(4), (c) (LexisNexis 2015) (prohibiting the possession of a firearm or other weapon (e.g., rifle or shotgun) within a prescribed distance of or within a public place or building as further defined in the statute); or. rev. stAt. § 166.173 (2015) (authorizing gov- ernment authority to regulate, restrict, or prohibit posses- sion of loaded firearms in public places); see, however, or. rev. stAt. §§ 166.370(1), (3)(d) (2015) (unlawful to possess a loaded or unloaded firearm in a public building unless a person is licensed under or. rev. Code §§ 166.291, 166.292 (2015) to carry a concealed weapon). See also Int’l Soc’y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc. v. Lee, 505 U.S. 672 (1992) and Mocek v. City of Albuquerque, 3 F. Supp. 3d 1002 (D. N.M. 2014) (stating that public airports are public places but not public fora for purposes of the First Amendment, because the purpose of airports is to facilitate travel, not to promote free speech and ideas). 254 Carricker v. City & Cnty. of Denver, No. 12-cv- 2365-WJM-KLM, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75991, at *1 (D. Colo. May 30, 2013); Tompkins v. Crown Corr, Inc., 726 F.3d 830, 838 (6th Cir. 2013). 255 Ariz. rev. stAt. Ann. § 13-3102(N)(2) (2015). 256 or. rev. stAt. § 166.360(4) (2015). 257 Responses of Lincoln Airport–Lincoln Airport Authority, Nebraska (citing neB. rev. stAt. Ann. § 69-2441(2) (LexisNexis 2015) and General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee.

25 Most of the statutes reviewed for this section of the digest do not clarify whether there is any dis- tinction between a person carrying a firearm openly or a licensee carrying a concealed firearm. An Oklahoma statute, however, states that it is unlawful for any person in possession of a valid handgun license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act to carry any concealed or unconcealed handgun into any…structure, building, or office space which is owned or leased by a city, town, county, state, or federal governmental authority for the purpose of conduct- ing business with the public…[or] [a]any other place specifi- cally prohibited by law.265 Oregon allows a city or county to adopt ordi- nances restricting or prohibiting the possession of loaded firearms in “public places.”266 Furthermore, unless a person is licensed to carry a concealed handgun, it is a Class C felony to intentionally carry a loaded or unloaded firearm in a public building.267 In Vermont, the Commissioner of Buildings and General Services is authorized to issue regulations governing “firearms and explosives…in State build- ings under his or her jurisdiction or upon the grounds of these buildings[] and in…property leased to the State….”268 Although the statute is somewhat prolix, a Wisconsin law applicable to trespass to land appears to prohibit a person, including one having a license to carry a concealed firearm, from entering or remaining “in any part of a building that is owned, occupied, or controlled by the state or any local gov- ernmental unit…if the state or local governmental unit has notified the actor not to enter or remain in the building while carrying a firearm….”269 Another subsection of the statute that defines what consti- tutes a trespass to land that has similar language adds that the “subdivision does not apply…if the firearm is in a vehicle…[in] any part of the building used as a parking facility.”270 A Utah case decided on the basis of preemption (see Section XII) held that the University of Utah may not prohibit the possession of firearms on its campus. In University of Utah v. Shurtleff,271 the university sought a declaratory judgment that its policy prohibiting the possession of firearms on its campus did not violate Utah law.272 Utah’s Supreme Court decided, however, that the University did not have the authority to enact policies that violate a Utah statute that precludes a state entity or local authority from prohibiting the possession or use of firearms on public or private property.273 Thus, some state statutes categorically prohibit firearms or alternatively allow government authori- ties to prohibit firearms in publicly owned or leased buildings, including concealed firearms in some states, notwithstanding a holder’s license to carry a concealed firearm. C. State Laws Authorizing the Posting of Signs Prohibiting Firearms in Public Buildings Several states allow governmental units to post conspicuous signs forbidding individuals to carry fire- arms in public buildings.274 For example, in Delaware, municipal governments may regulate the posses- sion of firearms or ammunition in municipal build- ings by conspicuous signage at the entrances to restricted areas; however, the ordinance must state “that any person who immediately foregoes entry or immediately exits such building due to the posses- sion of a firearm, ammunition, components of fire- arms, or explosives shall not be guilty of violating the ordinance.”275 271 144 P.3d 1109 (Utah 2006). 272 Id. at 1112. 273 Id. at 1121–22. 274 kAn. stAt. Ann. § 75-7c-24(a) (2015) (stating that when a building is posted conspicuously, it is unlawful to carry an unconcealed firearm into the building); kAn. stAt. Ann. § 75-7c-20(a) (2015) (stating that the “carry- ing of a concealed handgun shall not be prohibited in any state or municipal building unless such building has adequate security measures to ensure that no weapons are permitted to be carried into such building and the building is conspicuously posted in accordance with K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 75-7c10, and amendments thereto”); kAn. stAt. Ann. § 75-7c-20(m)(1) (2015) (defin- ing adequate security measures); kAn. stAt. Ann. § 74-7c-20(m)(5)(A) (2015) (defining state or municipal building); kAn. stAt. Ann. §§ 21-6309(a)(4) (2015) (stat- ing that it is “unlawful to possess, with no requirement of a culpable mental state, a firearm…within any other state-owned or leased building if the secretary of admin- istration has so designated by rules and regulations and conspicuously placed signs clearly stating that fire- arms are prohibited within such building….”). 275 del. Code Ann. tit. 22, § 111(b) (2015). See also del. Code Ann. tit. 22, § 111(c) (2015) (defining the term “municipal building”). 265 oklA. stAt. tit. 21, §§ 1277 (A)(1), (6) (2013) (empha- sis added); see E. Lee Thomson, 2015 State Airport Gun Laws, Airports CounCil internAtionAl (2015), http://www. aci-na.org/sites/default/files/e._lee_thomson_-_april_17. pdf (citing oklA. stAt. tit. 21, § 21-1277). 266 or. rev. stAt. § 166.173(1) (LexisNexis 2015). 267 or. rev. stAt. §§ 166.370(1), (3)(d) (2015 & 2016). 268 vt. stAt. Ann. tit. 10, § 152(o)(14) (2015). 269 Wis. stAt. § 943.13(1m)(e)(4) (2015) (excluding any building or portion of a building under Wis. stAt. § 175.60(16)(a)). 270 Wis. stAt. § 943.13(c)(4) (2015) (excluding any building or portion of a building under § 175.60 (16)(a)). Wis. stAt. § 175.60(a), identified in § 943.13(c)(4), states that “[e]xcept as provided in par. (b) [applicable to cer- tain parking areas], neither a licensee nor an out-of- state licensee may knowingly carry a concealed weapon, a weapon that is not concealed, or a firearm that is not a weapon in any of the following places….”).

26 In response to the survey, General Mitchell Inter- national Airport in Milwaukee and Lincoln Airport– Lincoln Airport Authority in Nebraska stated that they had posted signs banning firearms in the air- port. The Lincoln Airport Authority, for example, explained that it did so in accordance with Section 69-2241(2) of the Nebraska Revised Statutes that allows “the prohibiting of concealed carry by the entity in control of the property.”276 In Tennessee, unless an exception applies, a busi- ness or a federal or state entity may prohibit the possession of weapons on property owned, operated, managed, or under the control of a business or gov- ernment entity when signs are posted in accordance with the applicable statute.277 D. Whether a License to Carry a Firearm or a Concealed Firearm Allows Possession of a Firearm in a Public Building There are at least three approaches to the issue of whether a licensee may carry a firearm in a public building: Possession is not permitted even if an indi- vidual carrying a firearm is a licensee; possession is permitted because the individual has a license; or possession is lawful because the state or local entity lacks the authority to post signs precluding licens- ees from carrying a firearm in a public building. 1. States in Which Licensees Not Permitted to Carry a Firearm in a Public Building There are some states whose laws provide that licensees are or may be prohibited from carrying a firearm in a public building.278 Alabama law states that a person, including a person with a permit to carry a concealed pistol, may not, without the express permission of a person or entity with authority over the premises, knowingly pos- sess or carry a firearm inside any building or facility to which access of unauthorized persons and prohibited articles is limited during normal hours of operation by the continuous posting of guards and the use of other security features….279 In Ohio, a person licensed to carry a concealed handgun is not authorized to carry a concealed hand- gun into [a]ny building that is a government facility of this state or a political subdivision of this state and that is not a building that is used primarily as a shelter, restroom, parking facil- ity for motor vehicles, or rest facility and is not a courthouse or other building or structure in which a courtroom is located that is subject to division (B)(3) of this section….280 In Oklahoma, even if a person has a valid hand- gun license, it is unlawful to carry a concealed or unconcealed handgun in “[a]ny structure…owned or leased by a city, town, county, state or federal gov- ernmental authority.”281 2. States in Which a Valid License Is Required to Possess a Firearm in a Public Building A person with a handgun may be allowed to enter a public building in some states as long as the person has a permit to carry a firearm or a concealed fire- arm.282 For example, in California, unless a person has a “valid license to carry the firearm,” it is illegal to possess a firearm “within any state or local public 276 neB. rev. stAt. § 69-2441(2) (2015) (emphasis added) states: If a person, persons, entity, or entities in control of the property or an employer in control of the property prohibits a permitholder from carrying a concealed handgun into or onto the place or premises and such place or premises are open to the public, a permitholder does not violate this section unless the person, persons, entity, or entities in control of the property or employer in control of the property has posted conspicuous notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited in or on the place or premises or has made a request, directly or through an authorized representative or manage- ment personnel, that the permitholder remove the con- cealed handgun from the place or premises. 277 tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1359(a)(1), (b)(1) (2015) (applicable to “meetings”). 278 kAn. stAt. Ann. § 237.115(2) (2015), stating that [e]xcept as provided in KRS 527.020, the legislative body of a state, city, county, or urban-county government may, by statute, administrative regulation, or ordinance, prohibit or limit the carrying of concealed deadly weap- ons by licensees in that portion of a building owned, leased, or controlled by that unit of government. mo. rev. stAt. § 571.107(1)(6) (2015) (providing that government may prohibit or limit carrying of concealed firearms in portion of a “building owned, leased or con- trolled by that unit of government”); mont. Code Ann. § 45-8-328(1)(a) (prohibiting concealed weapons in “portions of a building used for state and local government offices and related areas”). 279 AlA. Code § 13A-11-61.2 (LexisNexis 2015) (stating some exceptions not relevant to the digest). 280 ohio rev. Code Ann. § 2923.126(B)(9) (LexisNexis 2015). 281 oklA. stAt. tit. 21, § 1277(a)(1) (2015). 282 gA. Code Ann. § 16-11-127 (2015) (prohibiting a person not having a weapons-carry license from carrying a weapon or long gun while in a government building); nev. rev. stAt. § 202.3673(1) (LexisNexis 2015) (stating that except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), a per- son licensed to carry a concealed weapon may carry a concealed weapon while on the premises of any public building); N.D. Cent. Code § 62.1-02-05 (2015) (stating that the prohibition of possession of a firearm at a public gathering or in a publicly owned or operated building is not applicable to an individual possessing a valid license to carry a concealed weapon); mo. rev. stAt. § 571.030.1(8) (2015) (prohibiting the carrying of a firearm into any building owned or occupied by an agency of the federal government, state government, or political subdivision of the state without a valid concealed carry permit).

Next: VI. FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS ON THE POSSESSION OF A FIREARM IN AIRPORT TERMINALS »
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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